As the National Rifle Association sets its sights on keeping President Barack Obama from a second term in the White House, a new report finds that the group’s fundraising grew twice as fast as its income from membership dues from 2004 to 2010. Bloomberg News reported that the group received $71.1 million in donations last year, up 54 percent from the $46.3 million figure they raised in 2004.
If previous numbers are any indication, election years are pretty crucial for the NRA. Their revenue minus expenses went from $29,923,548 in 2008 — when the man they called “Gun Ban Obama” was running for president — to $1,183,523 in 2009, when he actually took office (their total revenue decreased by just over $10 million).Bloomberg’s report also found inconsistencies in the amount of money the NRA said they gave to four recipients, a potential violation that could subject the organization to fines of $100 a day. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre wouldn’t agree to an interview with Bloomberg News, with a spokesman telling the reporters the NRA “will not participate in agenda journalism driven by a news organization owned by an avowed enemy of the Second Amendment — a politician who has been aggressively working against the interests of the NRA, our members and the nation’s gun owners for years.” Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is principally owned by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a supporter of gun control laws. (Bloomberg LP says Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t had a hand in the day-to-day operations of the news company in a decade.)
A crucial part of the organization’s strategy is to convince donors that their Second Amendment rights are in immediate jeopardy — former NRA chief Ray Arnet said that any special interest group is kept alive “by nurturing the crisis atmosphere.” That puts the NRA in a tough spot: the Obama administration has been inactive on gun control (in fact, they’ve expanded gun rights) and with Republicans likely to keep control of the House there’s no looming threat they can point to. So the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has suggested that the Obama administration’s failure to touch gun control is actually part of a long term scheme to get reelected so he can crack down on guns. Leaders of the organization have floated, and some members of Congress have adopted, the far-fetched theory that the Obama administration allowed guns to “walk” into Mexico during Operation Fast and Furious to create the political will to impose stricter limits on guns.
Fast and Furious, the flawed operation in which ATF agents instructed gun dealers to allow individuals they suspected were straw purchasers to purchase weapons that later ended up at crime scenes including at the location where a border patrol agent was murdered, appears to be a way for the NRA to raise money this year. The NRA is asking supporters to donate to help the organization run a video that shows “how Eric Holder’s lies are destroying freedom and costing lives.”