Gun control group sues FEC over alleged failure to act against NRA

 Gun control group sues FEC over alleged failure to act against NRA
© Greg Nash

A gun control advocacy group on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), saying the commission did not act on reports alleging campaign finance violations by the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

Giffords, the gun control group run by former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the Campaign Legal Center accused the FEC of not acting on complaints from several organizations claiming that the NRA illegally donated to President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE's and six other federal political campaigns through shell companies, according to The Washington Post.

In addition to Trump, the federal candidates mentioned in the lawsuit are Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRepublicans face critical test of integrity on drug price controls Hillicon Valley: Facebook releases audit on bias claims | Audit fails to calm critics | Federal agencies hit with fewer cyberattacks in 2018 | Huawei founder says company faces 'live or die' moment Facebook releases audit on conservative bias claims MORE (R-Mo.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces GOP senator: Gun control debate 'hasn't changed much at all' back home GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation MORE (R-Wis.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Gun reform groups to pressure GOP senators with rallies in all 50 states To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (R-N.C.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit Inslee seeking third term as governor after ending presidential bid MORE (R-Colo.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator says he suggested Greenland purchase to Trump, met with Danish ambassador It's time to empower military families with education freedom Cotton warns China: Crackdown on Hong Kong would be 'grave miscalculation' MORE (R-Ark.) and 2018 Senate candidate Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), according to The Post. 


The suit reportedly claims that in 2016, the NRA skirted campaign finance laws by using people in charge of Trump campaign ads to place its own ads in support of the then-candidate, using different names. According to the lawsuit, the NRA spent over $25 million on pro-Trump ads and activities during the election cycle. The NRA is accused of violating campaign finance law by coordinating with the Trump-linked media buyers to place the ads.

“The FEC is supposed to be the nation’s election watchdog, but in this case it didn’t bite, bark, or even whimper,” Adam Skaggs, chief counsel of Giffords Law Center, said in a statement. "Instead, it turned a blind eye while the NRA’s leadership made clear it’s more interested in handing bags of cash to candidates who will carry its water than following American laws or looking out for the interests of gun owners."

The NRA did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment, but told The Post that it follows the law and called the legal challenge "frivolous." 

“We scrupulously follow the law,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told The Post. “This latest effort by Giffords and the Campaign Legal Center is a frivolous lawsuit based on a frivolous complaint.”

An FEC spokesperson declined to comment, telling The Hill that it does not comment on litigation. 

A spokesperson for Johnson's 2016 campaign declined to comment, but a person familiar with the campaign said Johnson parted ways with a firm that was mentioned in the suit during the summer of 2016. 

The Hill has reached out to the White House and the senators named in the lawsuit for comment.