Follow The Money: Those very “Fungible” NRA PAC funds that is.

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richardbakes / Flickr RUSSIA...
richardbakes / Flickr

This current NPR Report raises some very disturbing Electioneer possibilities …

The Russia Investigations: On The Hunt For Duffel Bags Full Of Cash

NPR — April 7, 2018

[…]

Either way, their story suggests that one way Russia might have injected money into the American political system for the 2016 election and beyond was not via traceable and accountable electronic transfers, but through the old-fashioned delivery of cold hard cash.

Flying around stacks of cash is a time-honored way to get money into circulation in a distant place with no one in between learning about it — most of the time.

If Russian officials were shipping cash to the United States in 2016 for deposit in American bank accounts, which were then the apparently legitimate points of origination for payments to political campaigns or political action committees, that money could have been a powerful and deniable source of influence.

Investigators are believed to be looking into whether foreign cash got into the coffers of American political organizations, and if this is how, the implications are huge.

This is more than an exercise in accounting people — it’s defending our Elections from Foreign Influence.  It’s a matter of closing the big bucks “conduit” before it can happen again.

NRA Says It Receives Foreign Funds, But None Goes To Election Work

NPR, Tim Mak — March 27, 2018

[…]

Pressure on the organization has also been increased by a McClatchy report that  suggested that the FBI had been investigating whether a top Russian banker with Kremlin ties illegally funneled money to the NRA to aid Donald Trump’s campaign for president. The Federal Election Commission has also opened a preliminary investigation into this question.

[…]

The NRA said it does receive foreign money but not for election purposes.

“While we do receive some contributions from foreign individuals and entities, those contributions are made directly to the NRA for lawful purposes,” NRA’s General Counsel John C. Frazer wrote to Wyden in a letter obtained by NPR. “Our review of our records has found no foreign donations in connection with a United States election, either directly or through a conduit.”

[…]

While the NRA claims it does not receive foreign money for election purposes, the movement of its money among accounts could make it difficult, if not impossible, to track how the money is spent since it is not isolated or sequestered.

[…]

However, the NRA acknowledges that money moves among those accounts: “Transfers between accounts are made as permitted by law,” the NRA’s general counsel wrote.

These Record-breaking PAC expenditures in 2016 are NOT chicken-feed.

FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump

by Peter Stone And Greg Gordon, McClatchy DC—  January 23, 2018

[…]

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trumptriple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

OpeningTheSpigot.jpg
Pay no attention to that “leaky faucet” out back …

NRA’s Political Victory Fundwikipedia.org

The Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is the political action committee (PAC) of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The Fund contributes money to political campaigns of candidates endorsed by the NRA.[1][2]

[…]

In the 2004 elections, 95% of the NRA-PVF endorsed federal candidates and 86% of the endorsed state candidates were elected.[10]

[…]

The NRA-PVF political action committee (PAC) was established in 1976 as a NRA subsidiary.[14] The NRA-PVF created a rating system for political candidates to measure their support for gun-rights. It also helps its members locate an NRA Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC) for their area and to register to vote.[15]

Its not like the NRA doesn’t have a “track record” of transferring funds from one account to another.   It’s not like the NRA has a history of taking its own FEC violations, seriously …

NRA may have systemically broken political spending law – report

Gun rights organization allegedly ‘mixing’ corporate funds with Pac funds and solicitations, among other possible violations, report says

by Alan Yuhas in New York, The Guardian — 21 Apr 2015, Last modified on 14 Jul 2017

The National Rifle Association and its two arms for lobbying and campaign contributions may have systemically violated political spending law, a new report claims.

Exploring the labyrinthine world of campaign finance and tax law, a Yahoo news investigation has found the gun rights organization may have broken the law while fundraising and reporting its spending.

Although the NRA advertises the opportunity to contribute to its Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) —  the arm that actively lobbies members of Congress — a credit card statement showed that a donation to the organization actually went to the NRA’s political action committee (Pac), the Political Victory Fund (PVF). While the NRA cannot directly give money to political candidates, its Pac can.

[…]

So what the Big Deal if the NRA occasionally deposits a BIG Donor check, meant for one account, into another account meant for Political Action?

Money is fungible rightIt’s all still GREEN after the wash …

The NRA’s brazen shell game with donations: A Yahoo News investigation

Yahoo Politics April 21, 2015

[…]

There are at least three clear violations” of federal law, says Brett Kappel, an expert on political law and campaign finance at the law firm Akerman LLP. “First of all, they can’t be soliciting from the general public at their website. Then there’s the fact that the money is not being solicited in the name of the PAC; they have to say it’s for the PAC and what the political purpose of the PAC is. And then there are multiple missing disclaimers such as the disclaimer saying that contributions have to be voluntary.”

In addition to violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act, the NRA’s accounting of its corporate political expenditures may have run afoul of federal tax laws, because the powerful lobbying organization apparently failed to report tens of millions of dollars in political expenditures made in connection with federal election campaigns. […]

… And it’s not like Alexander Torshin (the deep-pockets donor to NRA in 2016 under investigation) doesn’t have a “track-record” of moving funds illicitly, for his sponsors back in Russia.  According to Torshin’s Resume, this should be child’s play for him …

Russian mobster or central banker? Spanish investigators allege Alexander Torshin is both

Bloomberg News; National Post — August 9, 2016

A former senator in Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party directed dirty-money flows for mobsters in Moscow before he was named a deputy head of the central bank last year, according to investigators in Spain.

Alexander Torshin instructed members of the Moscow-based Taganskaya crime syndicate how to launder ill-gotten gains through banks and properties in Spain while he was a deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, the Spanish Civil Guard said in a confidential report, seen by Bloomberg, on a three-year probe that ended in 2013.  […]

Within the hierarchical structure of the organization, it’s known that Russian politician Alexander Porfirievich Torshin stands above Romanov, who calls him ‘godfather’ or ‘boss”’ and conducts “activities and investments” on his behalf, investigators concluded in the report. Romanov was sentenced to almost four years in a Spanish prison in May, after pleading guilty to illegal transactions totalling 1.65 million euros ($1.83 million) and $50,000.

[…]

Every Billionaire ‘Mobster’ needs an under-the-radar ‘Money Guy’.  Putin has Alexander Torshin (center).

… Their words may say nyet, while their mega Million Dollar donations may end up telling an entirely different story.

Bonus Points if the NRA knowingly provided them the “back channel conduit” directly to Donald Trump Campaign coffers.  (How could it have not known?)

Secret and Foreign Spending in U.S. Elections: Why America Needs the DISCLOSE Act

by Liz Kennedy and Alex Tausanovitch, Center for American Progress — July 17, 2017
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