In response to a letter from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, the NRA has released additional information about its sources of revenue. That information reveals that the NRA has 23 contributors who are Russian or Americans living in Russia. While that admission may seem like it explodes previous NRA statements denying Russia connections, all that the organization is admitting to here is that they collected membership dues from Russian members. They continue to deny that the extraordinary burst of funds that appeared in the NRA’s coffers in 2016, an amount that almost exactly matched the $30 million that the gun-group gave to Donald Trump, came from Russia.
One high-profile Russian NRA supporter, state bank official Alexander Torshin, has cultivated a years-long relationship with the organization — but he was placed under sanction by the United States with other Russians last week.
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.
But while the NRA continues to deny getting anything but a membership fee from Torshin, apparently NRA membership comes with benefits.
Russian politician Alexander Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump — and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election.
NRA members in the United States may want to ask when they get their face time with Donald Trump, since apparently Torshin’s ties are limited to having a membership card.
The NRA letter to Wyden admits to only $2,500 in contributions from Russia sources. That’s a long way from the suspicions that Torshin used the NRA as a means of funneling millions to Trump.
These revelations come amid news that the FBI is investigating whether Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA to assist the Trump campaign in 2016, McClatchy reported in January.
The connection between the NRA and Russia goes back several years, and includes connections to oligarchs, manufacturers, and Russian organizations designed to promote weapons sales. And both NRA officials and Trump’s surrogates have worked hand-in-glove with Russia’s gun promoters.
[Sheriff David Clarke] has served as a virtual Bering Land Bridge between the NRA and its counterpart in Russia, The Right to Bear Arms, taking a trip to the country almost exactly a year ago with a who’s who of NRA brass. Present on this bizarre excursion were ex-NRA President David Keene, NRA First Vice President Pete Brownell—who also just happens to run an enormous firearm accessory empire—and NRA Women’s Leadership Forum executive committee member Hilary Goldschlager.
As a supposed non-profit organization, the NRA doesn’t have to reveal all the details of its funding. Just how the organization got more than $29 million extra in 2016 compared to 2015 isn’t clear. What is clear is that the letter they sent to Wyden, is a long way from telling the whole story. But as far as the NRA is concerned, they’re done talking.
[NRA general counsel John Frazer] told Wyden in his letter that he believed the NRA has been more than cooperative with Wyden’s questions and that this would be the last response he’ll send to the senator’s office.