Before getting into the latest on the National Rifle Association and its foreign contributors, some backstory is in order.
After the NRA’s campaign expenditures saw a dramatic jump in 2016, the group started fielding questions about the money’s sources. In fact, McClatchy News first reported in January that the FBI is exploring whether “a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money” to the NRA to help Trump win the presidency.
The same outlet reported soon after that a former NRA board member, had “concerns” about the group’s ties to Russia “and its possible involvement in channeling Russian funds into the 2016 elections.” Politico reported soon after that the Federal Election Commission has launched “a preliminary investigation into whether Russian entities gave illegal contributions” to the far-right group.
NPR moved the ball forward a bit with a new report two weeks ago, noting that the organization acknowledges accepting money from foreign sources, though the NRA denies anything improper.
The National Rifle Association has accepted contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia, since 2015, the gun rights group acknowledged to Congress.
The NRA said in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., unveiled on Wednesday, that the sum it received from those people was just over $2,500 and most of that was “routine payments” for membership dues or magazine subscriptions.
About $525 of that figure was from “two individuals who made contributions to the NRA.”
In case this isn’t obvious, given the enormous amount of money the NRA receives for its endeavors, these revised totals of donations from Russia represent a tiny percentage of the organization’s budget and that of its affiliates.
That said, the examination is ongoing, and if the NRA has revised its total of Russian donors once, maybe the group will do so again?