Editor’s Note: A TPM report published March 19 calls into question the significance of the FEC action described here. The agency appears to have done little more than provide a standard response to a complaint. A full investigation is a long way off and appears to be unlikely to happen at all, TPM reports.
The Federal Elections Commission has opened a preliminary inquiry into whether Russian individuals or entities funneled money to the National Rifle Association to boost Donald Trump’s campaign, Politico reported Friday.
The probe stems in part from a complaint filed by the American Democracy Legal Fund, a progressive advocacy group. The group’s treasurer, Brad Woodhouse, confirmed to Politico that he’d received notification from the FEC that an investigation was underway.
An NRA spokesman declined Politico’s request for comment, while the FEC said it could not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations.
Per the report, if investigators find troubling information while digging through the NRA’s campaign finance records, the FEC could launch a full probe, impose fines, or even refer criminal matters to the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
McClatchy has previously reported that the FBI is investigating whether Russian banker and “life member” of the NRA, Aleksandr Torshin, illegally channeled money to the NRA to help Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The NRA responded to that story by saying the FBI was looking into Torshin, not the NRA.
The NRA and its lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, collectively spent a whopping $30 million on Trump’s campaign.
Democratic congressmen, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), have initiated their own fact-finding inquiries into the NRA-Russia ties.