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Berlow writes: "Early last summer I began making contributions to the National Rifle Association - a dollar here, a dollar there - to see where my money would end up."

National Rifle Association convention. (photo: AP)
National Rifle Association convention. (photo: AP)


The NRA's Brazen Shell Game With Donations

By Alan Berlow, Yahoo News

22 April 15

 

arly last summer I began making contributions to the National Rifle Association — a dollar here, a dollar there — to see where my money would end up. Some of it quickly found its way into the account of the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the NRA’s political action committee. And that was of no small interest, because I never knowingly contributed to the NRA-PVF. For me, this wasn’t a big problem; my contributions were a spit in the bucket for an organization that spent $37 million on the 2014 elections and operates on an annual budget of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. But my contributions and others like them may be a big problem for the NRA because, according to some of the nation’s top experts on federal election law, they are all illegal.

The issue is not just that my donations ended up in a political fund account, but the way the NRA solicited them — and presumably those of thousands of others. In fact, each of these transactions almost certainly violated multiple provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and a legion of state and federal antifraud statutes designed to protect the public from phony charities and false or misleading solicitations.

The FECA makes a hard distinction between solicitations for elections and other solicitations, in part because many Americans don’t like donating to politicians. An NRA member might contribute to the organization because she admires its work on behalf of hunters. She might also contribute to an environmental group because she wants to preserve forests. But this same donor may vehemently oppose the candidates endorsed in federal elections by both the NRA and the environmental group. As a result, the law makes it clear that when these groups are soliciting for electoral purposes they must disclose that fact to potential donors.

Requirments on solicitation for federal law. (photo: Federal Election Commission)
Requirments on solicitation for federal law. (photo: Federal Election Commission)

If a private citizen says he’s raising money for a cancer charity and deposits the money into his personal bank account, he can be prosecuted for committing a fraud. Similarly, under federal election law, corporations like the NRA that set up what are known as “connected PACs” must inform potential donors if a PAC is the intended beneficiary of a solicitation. The NRA can’t claim to be raising money for the corporation — to finance such things as its lobbying or research initiatives — and then deposit that money into the account of its PAC. But that’s precisely what the NRA did when it solicited my contributions.

The NRA also appears to have violated a federal law that bars soliciting for a connected PAC from anyone other than the group’s employees or members — what the law calls its “restricted class.” And the NRA appears to have violated another provision that says Internet solicitations must be at websites that are accessible only to members (the restricted class), not the general public.

“You really can’t solicit for a connected PAC outside the connected organization’s restricted class,” says Joseph Birkenstock, an attorney with Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock and a former chief counsel of the Democratic National Committee. “That’s really not a gray area of campaign finance law; that’s pretty much ‘first principles.’” (The “restricted class” concept applies to corporations and unions. A corporation can raise money from its own executives and shareholders. Tax-exempt corporations like the NRA and labor unions can raise money from their members.)

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

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+23 # Ken Halt 2015-04-22 18:10
Sock it to 'em! Throw the book at 'em! The US shouldn't be a nation where the paranoid minority holds the rest of us at gunpoint. The second amendment was not written to allow unlimited access to firearms and the excessive homicides that naturally follow. The US is exceptional in it's per capita homicide rate as compared to other industrialized countries. Australia banned guns and guess what? The homicide rate diminished! No brainer there.
 
 
-35 # cicciuzzu 2015-04-22 22:12
Come on Ken, the Supreme Court has visited the Second Amendment recently, as you well know, and they say what the Amendment means, not you. What they have done is incorporate the Amendment into the 14th Amendment and thus have made it applicable to the States for the first time. Get a grip.
 
 
-37 # skylinefirepest 2015-04-22 22:47
Cicciuzzu is absolutely correct. And you, Mr. Halt, don't have a clue about what it means. The Second Amendment is a Right granted by the Constitution and is freely recognized as being an offshoot of the God given right of self protection, not a privilege granted by government. And while you, Ken, are correct in thinking that we have way too many murders you need to correlate those figures into the amount of drug crime, inner city crime, hoodlum crime, etc. where guns are used. When you ban the guns from the law abiding you simply make the job easier for the thugs. Funny that in England the violent crime went sky high after the law abiding were disarmed...and you'll remember that the United States literally had to arm the English for the second World War. American citizens donated the use of personal firearms to the English.
 
 
+17 # ericlipps 2015-04-23 05:42
The Second Amendment is not recognized as a "God-given right " to "keep and bear arms" (a vaguely-defined phrase which could apply to backpack nukes); none of the rights recognized under the Constitution were seen by the mostly thoroughly secular (not atheist, but secular) Framers. Except for the boilerplate phrase 'year of our Lord" at the bottom where the document's date is given, the Constitution nowhere mentions God.
 
 
-7 # skylinefirepest 2015-04-23 21:40
Eri, apparently you didn't give much thought to my comment. You and I have a God given right to self protection. Yes or No?? The Constitution was written by God fearing men. And the basis for the Second Amendment is well documented in The Federalist Papers amongst many other sources.
 
 
+1 # Merlin 2015-04-27 03:43
skylinefirepest 2015-04-23 21:40

Look you silly troll, take your godly conversation to your church. Guns, the NRA and violence supporters like you, are a man made problem, and god has nothing to do with it.

Bringing god into your argument is called "name dropping."

The weakness of your manliness is not changed by your referencing your particular fantasy in the sky. Believe what ever you want, but don't believe you are convincing anyone but your fellow weak kneed trolls like yourself.
 
 
+7 # Granny Weatherwax 2015-04-23 09:41
Quoting skylinefirepest:
Funny that in England the violent crime went sky high after the law abiding were disarmed...


Sources, please, lest I call BS.

The second amendment was to provide "well-regulated " (i.e. lead by US-trained officers) "militia" (i.e. organized groups of citizens).
This was to provide for organized defense against the French and the Indians without requiring a professional standing army which was seen as costly, dangerous for the democracy and necessarily spread too thin to be efficient in an emergency on the wild frontier.
The "right to bear arms" was meant to ensure every one could enlist in the militia, as opposed to the European practice of selecting enlistees based on loyalty to the colonel personally.

So give us all a break.
 
 
+6 # reiverpacific 2015-04-23 10:01
Quoting Granny Weatherwax:
Quoting skylinefirepest:
Funny that in England the violent crime went sky high after the law abiding were disarmed...


Sources, please, lest I call BS.

The second amendment was to provide "well-regulated" (i.e. lead by US-trained officers) "militia" (i.e. organized groups of citizens).
This was to provide for organized defense against the French and the Indians without requiring a professional standing army which was seen as costly, dangerous for the democracy and necessarily spread too thin to be efficient in an emergency on the wild frontier.
The "right to bear arms" was meant to ensure every one could enlist in the militia, as opposed to the European practice of selecting enlistees based on loyalty to the colonel personally.

So give us all a break.

Quoting mmcmanus:
And you, apparently, don't have a clue about anything! Your babble about England, crime rates and World War II is frighteningly ignorant.


Check this out re, "American cops just killed more people in March that the UK since 1900!
http://yournewswire.com/us-police-kill-more-people-in-one-month-than-uk-since-1900/
 
 
-4 # arquebus 2015-04-23 11:26
But who is the militia. Perhaps folks would like to review the Militia Act of 1903 which stated that all males between the age of 17 and 45 are the Reserve Militia.
 
 
+6 # mmcmanus 2015-04-23 09:46
And you, apparently, don't have a clue about anything! Your babble about England, crime rates and World War II is frighteningly ignorant.
 
 
-6 # skylinefirepest 2015-04-23 21:36
Ignorant? Apparently you don't know your history Mac! Well, given the state of government education today I guess you're about average.
 
 
+18 # lfeuille 2015-04-22 23:26
Quoting cicciuzzu:
Come on Ken, the Supreme Court has visited the Second Amendment recently, as you well know, and they say what the Amendment means, not you. What they have done is incorporate the Amendment into the 14th Amendment and thus have made it applicable to the States for the first time. Get a grip.

Their ruling purposely ignore the historical context in which it was written. The ruling was base on a conscious misreading of history. It is perfectly reasonable to advocate for overturning it.
 
 
+16 # ChrisCurrie 2015-04-23 05:08
The NRA is an advertising agency and legal offense/defense agency for American gun manufacturers. Donating to the NRA is like donating to General Motors.
 
 
+13 # jabo1941 2015-04-23 07:01
Great Idea: How about all those NRA people who love to fire weapons for sport join the National Guard and really contribute to the common welfare?

The NRA folks are always spouting that they have the right to protect themselves from the tyranny of the government. What they don't realize is that they don't need guns, they need fair elections. While they were off at the firing range our government stole our basic right of democracy.
 
 
+5 # mmcmanus 2015-04-23 09:55
Maybe not such a great idea--the fact that so many nuts have guns is bad enough, putting them in uniform with guns is worse. Oh, wait, we've already done that: they're police in New York, North Charleston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Oklahoma . . .. Perhaps a better idea is to have the Kochs pay to fly the NRA to Iraq and start their own jihad against ISIS.
 
 
+1 # jpmarat 2015-04-23 12:02
Does anyone think their NRA is going to feed the starving in Sudan, NOT to bribe politicians? The NRA exists to jack up the profits of those who sell guns and ammo to chumps; donors EXPECT their $$ to pay bribes, no?
 

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