The NRA Received Donations From Russian Nationals

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(Bloomberg) -- The National Rifle Association received donations from about two dozen individuals with Russian addresses, an attorney for the firearms lobby said in a letter dated April 10. The letter was released by Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee.

The organization received about $2,512 from those with Russian addresses between 2015 and April 2018, the NRA said in the letter. Some of those addresses may be linked to American citizens living in Russia, it said. Of the $2,512, “about $525 was from two individuals who made contributions to the NRA,” the letter, signed by NRA general counsel John C. Frazer, said. “The rest consisted of routine payments from about 23 individuals for membership dues and additional magazine subscriptions.” It's unclear whether the two contributors are counted among the 23 individuals.

Read the letter here. 

An NRA spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.

Wyden, of Oregon, has been exchanging letters with the NRA for the last few weeks. He has previously written to the NRA to ask about its fundraising efforts, specifically related to Russia. 

U.S. authorities are reportedly investigating if the group funneled Russian funds into the 2016 presidential election. The NRA spent more than $50 million on political campaigns in 2016, including $30 million to support Donald Trump for president, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

On March 27, Wyden requested additional information about the group’s campaigning, communications and funding. The senator also sought more information about Alexander Torshin, a Russian lawmaker and ally of President Vladimir Putin. Torshin has paid dues to the NRA as a member, the April 10 letter stated, “but has not made any contributions, and is therefore not a member of any major donor program.” The NRA is reviewing its “responsibilities with respect to him” because Torshin was placed on a U.S. list of sanctioned individuals on April 6. 

According to a Wyden aide, the senator plans to refer his correspondence with the NRA to the Federal Election Commission.

Frazer, the NRA attorney, said the group wouldn't respond to any more Wyden requests, citing their “extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature.”

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