The National Rifle Association has all but closed the tap of campaign spending, as money flowing from the gun rights organization to Republican candidates has dropped a whopping 90 percent this election cycle.
> The NRA has been a major donor to Republican candidates. The group poured $16 million to Republican candidates during the 2014 midterms, according to the Federal Election Commission, and a spent a whopping $54 million on Republicans in the 2016 cycle, with $32 million of that to elect President Donald Trump.
> McClatchy reports that the NRA has pledged just $1.6 million to Republicans this cycle, a mere 10 percent of its previous midterm spend. The report notes that the decline comes amid an FBI probe into whether the group illegally received Russian money to spend on the election.
The primary focus of the FBI investigation is Alexander Torshin, the Russian oligarch who is also top dog at the country’s central bank, and whether he funneled money through the NRA to help fund Trump’s 2016 campaign.
> A number of NRA officials have also been linked to Torshin's associate Maria Butina, who was indicted earlier this year for working as an agent of the Russian Federation. The NRA denied spending foreign cash on the election but admitted to accepting foreign donations for non-electoral campaigns, though the group has only admitted to receiving $2,513 in donations and membership dues from 23 Russian nationals since 2015.
The report also notes that membership dues have fallen sharply since last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which sparked a prolonged series of protests and renewed energy around the gun control movement.
> According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA has reported a $35 million decline in dues.
> “While the NRA doesn’t have billions to spend, we have a formidable grassroots organization. Our strength has always been the tens of millions of NRA members and Second Amendment supporters who consistently go to the polls and vote for candidates who support our constitutional right to self defense,” the group said in a statement to McClatchy.
The organization is also in the midst of a legal battle with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying in a lawsuit that Cuomo bullied banks and insurance companies into dropping the NRA, potentially forcing them to shut down certain aspects of their operations.
> The suit claimed Cuomo was behind a “concerted efforts to stifle the NRA’s freedom of speech” and warned that “it could be forced to shutter its multimillion-dollar television network, NRA TV, or a number of its print publications.” The lawsuit adds that without insurance, the NRA “cannot maintain its physical premises” or “convene off-site meetings and events.”