FEC failed, so Giffords sues NRA directly

Earlier this year the FEC was presented with evidence that the NRA illegally coordinated with GOP campaigns to use the same personnel and vendors to run ads for GOP candidates, claiming the vendors were “functionally indistinguishable.” That’s illegal. But the FEC didn’t act. So a federal judge granted the Giffords’ nonprofit the right to sue the NRA.

It calls for the court to prevent the NRA from “violating the law in future elections” and for the gun rights group to pay a fine to the Treasury Department equal to the alleged total in the donation scheme.

The lawsuit alleges as much as $35 million in “unlawful” and “unreported in-kind campaign contributions” went toward a scheme that goes back as early as 2014, with $25 million allegedly going toward Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

NRA ran shell companies to illegally fund Trump and other Republicans, Giffords group alleges in suit Washington Post 11/3/2021

This is an important development, because it shows what can be done when one of the institutions that is supposed to keep the blatant corruption in check, fails to act. I’m a big fan of civil lawsuits because in America money is power.
And when you get in the way to a group’s revenue, you reduce their power. My fedora is off to my old friends at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and my new friends at Campaign Legal Center Action for this lawsuit and this strategy.

The story about how the NRA used shell companies and vendors to coordinate is in the lawsuit.

The races at the heart of the lawsuit include the following (with the candidate receiving the NRA’s support in bold):

2014: Thom Tillis in the race for Senate in North Carolina (vs. Kay Hagan); Tom Cotton in the race for Senate in Arkansas (vs. Mark Pryor); Cory Gardner in the race for Senate in Colorado (vs. Mark Udall)
2016: Ron Johnson in the race for Senate in Wisconsin (vs. Russ Feingold); Donald Trump in the presidential race (vs. Hillary Clinton)
2018: Josh Hawley in the race for Senate in Missouri (vs. Claire McCaskill); Matt Rosendale in the race for Senate in Montana (vs. Jon Tester)

Giffords Sues the National Rifle Association for Violating Campaign Finance Laws
The NRA shell game. Using vendors to

When a group is busted for illegally obtaining or using money, there should be penalties. But if the agency that is supposed to impose those penalties is rendered weak or ineffectual, we need to figure how to fix the agency.

If the FEC failed to act on this very clear violation of the law, what else are they failing to act on? For example, WHERE did the money that the NRA used for these campaigns come from?

If the FEC doesn’t act on the issue of money coming from Russia and being funneled via the NRA to campaigns, there needs to be another lawsuit. Maybe the people who lost the elections could get the Campaign Legal Center Action to file on their behalf.

I’m mentioned the Russian money because it gives me a chance to show the cool animation I made in 2018.

What did Chris Cox, Josh Hawley & Tom Cotton know about the source of NRA’s funding?

Chris Cox, the head of the NRA-ILA and NRA-PVF

What will show up in the discovery of this lawsuit? What happens if the source of the funding is traced to foreign entities? New York’s attorney general said in August that the NRA had failed to root out rampant internal corruption. What else will show up?

Who at the NRA knew? Surely Chris Cox, the head of the NRA-ILA and NRA-PVF, knew. Who else knew and when did they know it?

Which of the vendors working for the candidates knew?
Which of the candidates knew? Hawley? Cotton? Who on their staff knew?

Because there are so many different ways to LEGALLY get money from outside groups, I’m always astonished when someone violates the bright lines of FEC laws on foreign contributions. Frankly it just feels lazy on their part.

Breaking FEC laws has become “Just the cost of running for office” for the GOP

For Trump and the modern GOP, violating FEC laws is like cheating on your taxes. It’s “just smart business.”

For GOP candidates to NOT accept money from foreign entities would be “leaving money on the table.”
To them getting caught and paying a tiny fine is “just the cost of running for office” in an election.

Part of the problem is that violations of FEC laws currently results in small fines and “Don’t do that again!” administrative warnings. The candidates are likely doing a cost/benefit analysis of getting busted compared to the huge financial/power benefit of winning an election.

The business mentality of “Do the crime, pay the fine” works for them. But prison terms don’t.
When the chance for prison isn’t one of the penalties, the fine should be bigger. In this case, the NRA would have to “pay a fine to the Treasury Department equal to the alleged total in the donation scheme.” Making the NRA pay $35,000,000 would be cool.

But if it can be shown the candidates knew money was coming from Russian, and didn’t report it, that needs to be more than a fine. It needs to be identified as a TREASONOUS act. There should be criminal penalties.

“Here is the evidence showing you KNEW this money was from Russian via the NRA. Why didn’t you report it? What kind of “patriot” does that?”

The Framers of the constitution had something to say about those who commit treason. Check it out in your pocket Constitution. It’s on page 13.

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