Court Battles

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

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 Trump’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 Hawley (R-Mo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and 2018 Senate candidate Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), according to The Post. 

{mosads}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.  

Tags Campaign finance Cory Gardner Donald Trump FEC Giffords Josh Hawley NRA Ron Johnson Thom Tillis Tom Cotton

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