NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety released the following statement today in response to a new NPR report revealing that the NRA accepted contributions from more than 20 Russian-linked contributors since 2015. The admission by the NRA, made in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), raises questions about a previous statement from the NRA on March 19, which stated that the NRA took no contributions from Russian individuals or entities during the 2015-2016 period. The NRA’s general counsel told Senator Wyden this would be the last response he’ll send to the senator’s office, saying “Given the extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature of your requests, we must respectfully decline to engage in this beyond the clear answers we have already provided.”
STATEMENT FROM JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“The NRA doesn’t get it — you can’t tell the American people you’re done answering questions right after we learn that you’ve been misleading us about your ties to Russia. There’s only one way to stop the tough questions: Tell the full truth.”
In a letter to Senator Wyden (D-OR) on March 19, the NRA said it had accepted money from foreign contributors in the 2015-2016 cycle, but that “none of those entities or individuals is connected with Russia.” Now, from the NRA’s April 10 letter Senator Wyden (D-OR):
“Given your focus on potential Russian influence between 2015 and the present, we reviewed our financial records for that period. During that time, the NRA received a total of approximately $2512.85 from people associated with Russian addresses (which may include U.S. citizens living in Russia), or known Russian nationals living in the United States. Of this total, about $525 was from two individuals who made contributions to the NRA. The rest consisted of routine payments from about 23 individuals for membership dues and additional magazine subscriptions.”
The NRA also now says it is “reviewing its relationship” with Alexander Torshin, the Putin ally and lifetime NRA member reportedly at the center of an FBI probe into “whether Russian money went to [the] NRA to help Trump” in 2016. The news comes just days after Torshin was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
“The NRA acknowledged that Torshin, a Kremlin-linked politician, is a life member of the NRA, and has been since 2012. ‘He has paid membership dues, but has not made any contributions,’ NRA general counsel John Frazer wrote to Wyden.
“Now, however: ‘Based on Mr. Torshin’s listing as a specially designated national as of April 6, we are currently reviewing our responsibilities with respect to him,’ Frazer wrote.”
Torshin “methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into American politics,” according to a previous NPR expose.