The Federal Election Commission, notorious as the federal government’s most dysfunctional agency, apparently has begun investigating whether Russian entities gave illegal contributions to the National Rifle Association that were intended to benefit Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Politico reports this morning that the FEC is moving forward on a complaint by the American Democracy Legal Fund, an advocacy group that called for a probe of the NRA’s Russia ties following media reports that Russians supplied some of the $30 million the gun group put into the Trump campaign.
Politico said investigators are likely to demand that the NRA turn over internal documents and campaign finance records. Depending on what FEC investigators and lawyers find, the agency could expand its investigation, levy fines, or make criminal referrals to the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, the website added.
The NRA declined to comment on the FEC inquiry, but Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, who is running his own investigation of the gun lobby’s possible Russia connections, said through a spokesman that an NRA lawyer has told his office that the NRA is “answering questions about possible Russian donations as part of an FEC inquiry.”
The NRA’s clout on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures across the country is close-to-legendary, but the group has been on the defensive since a gunman killed 17 students and teachers in a Valentine’s Day rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
As students across the country demonstrated for tougher gun laws, the Florida legislature and Gov. Rick Scott defied the NRA and raised the legal age for purchasing all guns to 21 (the federal minimum is 18 for a rifle and 21 for a handgun). Florida now also bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which effectively convert semi-automatic rifles into machine guns, and gives police the authority to seize weapons from potentially dangerous people.
The NRA has filed suit to overturn the Florida law as a violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Federal gun legislation remains bottled up in committee, with little sign that the Republican-controlled Congress is interested in acting on it; after some tough talk immediately after the Florida shooting, President Trump's interest in new gun laws also appears to have cooled.
Office: Common Cause National