Court orders FEC to rule on complaints against alleged NRA campaign coordination program


The NRA is accused of illegally coordinating campaign spending with candidates.

A federal court on Thursday ordered the Federal Election Commission to rule on pending complaints that the National Rifle Association used fictitious entities to illegally coordinate campaign spending with federal candidates, including with the 2016 presidential campaign by Donald Trump.

In 2019, the non-partisan Washington-based watchdog Campaign Legal Center Action sued the FEC on behalf of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control advocacy group led by the former Democratic representative. of Arizona Gabby Giffords, after the failure of the federal agency. to act on several complaints that accused the gun rights group of perpetrating what complainants called “an elaborate ploy … to illegally coordinate with the candidates it supports for federal office.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday ordered the FEC to act on the complaints within 30 days.

In the 2019 lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged that the NRA used a “shell company network” to bypass contribution limits and coordinate around $ 35 million in ad spend with the campaigns of at least seven Republican candidates over the course of of the last three election cycles, “thereby making millions of dollars in illegal, unreported and excessive in-kind contributions.”

The complaint alleged that although the NRA deliberately circumvented FEC rules that prohibit the coordination of vendors between campaigns and outside groups, the federal agency responsible for overseeing election expenses – whose members frequently find themselves in deadlock on partisan issues – had taken no coercive action.

“The failure of the FEC to enforce our campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion in shady campaign spending,” said Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center Action CLC and former president of the FEC. “The FEC was fortunate enough to do the right thing by taking action against the NRA for this blatant coordination of spending, but failed to do so.”

“This is a baseless effort designed by anti-gun groups who want to silence the voices of our members,” NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide told ABC News in a statement. “We welcome the FEC review so that we can move on from this frivolous distraction.”

A spokesperson for the FEC declined to comment on the dispute.

FEC rules prohibit outside groups from spending coordinated with campaigns, stipulating that candidate campaigns must not be “materially involved” in the production and placement of ads purchased by the super PAC branch or branch. politically active nonprofit of the NRA. Providers shared by the NRA and Federal Campaigns are also prohibited from sharing mutually supportive information.

“Over the past few years and throughout election cycles, the NRA has brazenly flouted the campaign finance law by illegally funneling money to candidates while claiming to remain independent,” said David Pucino, senior counsel for the campaign. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“It is clear that the NRA will continue to break the law until someone stops them,” Pucino said. “Today’s decision ordering the FEC to take action is a resounding victory in keeping black money out of our politics.”

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