O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) – A federal lawsuit accuses the National Rifle Association of violating campaign finance laws by using shell companies to illegally funnel up to $ 35 million to Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and others.
The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint Tuesday in Washington on behalf of Giffords, a nonprofit gun control organization founded by former Democratic United States representative Gabby Giffords. He accuses the NRA of practices dating back to 2014 “to evade campaign finance regulations by using a series of shell companies to illegally but surreptitiously coordinate advertising with at least seven federal candidates.”
The lawsuit names Hawley and U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale of Montana as defendants, but the trial text also accuses the NRA of “excessive and undeclared in-kind contributions” to Trump and Republican-sensing campaigns Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and former Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado. Contributions to Rosendale took place during his unsuccessful 2018 Senate campaign, according to the lawsuit.
Trump’s 2016 campaign received up to $ 25 million under the program, the lawsuit says.
Two NRA affiliates – National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund and National Rifle Association of America Institute for Legislative Action – are accused of coordinating with GOP candidates to use the same staff and suppliers for campaign announcements.
“The Campaign Finance Act prohibits groups like the NRA from buying influence over elected officials by coordinating spending with those candidates’ campaigns,” Campaign Legal Center lawyer Molly Danahy said in a statement. Press release. “When special interests like the NRA secretly collude with candidates, this illegal coordination corrupts our electoral process and deprives voters of their right to know who is spending to influence their vote.”
The NRA responded on Thursday with a statement calling the trial “yet another premeditated public abuse by our adversaries – who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of their anti-freedom agenda.” This last action is as misguided as it is transparent. Suffice it to say that the NRA has full confidence in its political activities and remains keen to set the record straight. “
Emails left at the offices of Trump, Hawley, Rosendale and others in the lawsuit were not immediately returned.
Giffords represented Arizona’s 8th District from 2007 to 2012, when she resigned after sustaining a brain injury in a 2011 mass shooting in her district that killed six people.
Campaign Legal Center said the Giffords organization first exposed the allegations against the NRA in 2018 when it filed a series of complaints with the Federal Election Commission. The center said Giffords took legal action after the FEC failed to take action.
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The lawsuit seeks an order preventing the NRA from committing similar violations in future elections and asks the court to demand that the NRA pay a fine equal to the amount that was allegedly spent illegally – up to $ 35 million.
The lawsuit accuses the NRA of illegally funneling funds to help the Tillis, Cotton and Gardner campaigns in the 2014 election, the Johnson and Trump campaigns in 2016, and the Hawley and Rosendale campaigns in 2018.