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Saturday, December 29, 2012

How the National Rifle Association gets its power

How the National Rifle Association gets its power
Money, money, money, money, money…
By Will Collette
By Will Collette

To restore some sanity to America’s gun policy will require dealing, somehow, with the political power amassed by the National Rifle Association. Now that the NRA has declared itself squarely against any new gun laws, in spite of public reaction to the Newtown slaughter, we must deal with the amount of allegiance and obedience the NRA has bought from elected officials at almost every level of government.

The NRA has amassed this political power even though it is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization which is technically supposed to be non-political. In its last reporting year, the NRA reported income (almost all of it not only tax-exempt but tax deductible to the donors) of over a quarter of a billion dollars.

But that’s not all. The NRA controls at least three other national non-profits that each had its own revenue stream[1]. Together, they raised $18 million in the most recent tax year.

NRA salaries
Then there’s the NRA Political Victory Fund, the spearpoint of the NRA. They raised and spent $15 million during the 2012 elections.

The NRA pays ten of its top executives salaries of over a quarter million a year. Their top spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, the guy who gave one of the year’s most bizarre news conferences, had a compensation package worth $961,084.

With an annual income of around $260,000,000, the NRA has enough money to enforce its firearms philosophy. They spread their money far and wide, even in a true blue state like Rhode Island.

An actual ad for the gun used in the Newtown slaughter
According to the RI Board of Elections, the NRA Political Victory Fund invested $142,525 in Rhode Island elections. They gave money for campaigns all over the state. They gave to Democrats and Republicans, to progressives and Tea Partiers, to RINOs and DINOs. Sometimes they funded opposing candidates.

Campaign contributions only tell part of the story. They also invest in mass mailings and robocalls to support candidates who toe the NRA line or to attack those that don’t. One local candidate was on the receiving end of the NRA’s attack for committing the inadvertent error of failing to send back the NRA’s candidate questionnaire.

Click here to see the list of NRA campaign contributions in Rhode Island.

[1] In the most recent filing year which ended December 31, 2010, the NRA Foundation raised $16,074,571. The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund raised $706,570. The NRA Special Contributions Fund raised $1,559,104. According to the Federal Elections Commission, the NRA Political Victory Fund raised $14,391,314 for the 2012 election cycle.