Liberal Group Asks FEC To Probe Possible Russian Donations To NRA

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association convention Friday, May 20, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/AP

A Democratic-aligned group filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Election Commission asking for a comprehensive probe into whether the NRA received money from Russian nationals to help Donald Trump, in violation of campaign finance laws.

“A foreign agent illegally laundering millions of foreign dollars to influence an American election in support of then candidate Donald Trump is absolutely an issue for the Federal Election Commission to take up,” American Legal Democracy Fund (ALDF) treasurer Brad Woodhouse, a former DNC spokesman, said in a statement. “We expect the FEC to get to the bottom of this issue swiftly and deliver the results of a thorough investigation to the American people.”

The group’s complaint is based on a recent McClatchy story reporting that the FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker close to both President Vladimir Putin and the NRA gave money to the gun group’s dark money arm.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told TPM late last week that the organization “has not been contacted by the FBI or any other investigative body.”

A spokeswoman for the FEC, Judith Ingram, said that the commission could not offer comment on pending complaints beyond confirming their receipt. Ingram said the ALDF’s complaint had not yet been received by mid-afternoon on Monday.

According to McClatchy, the FBI wants to know whether Alexander Torshin, a Russian central bank official and lifetime NRA member, funneled donations to the NRA. The complaint notes an extensive web of ties between Torshin, his deputy Maria Butina, and bigwigs at the NRA.

TPM has reported at length on those connections. 

The complaint casts a wide net, asking the FEC to investigate “any additional coordination between Respondents and foreign nationals in connection with the 2016 presidential election” and that the “maximum fines permitted by law” be leveled if the commission finds evidence that the NRA accepted illegal foreign contributions.

Read the full document below.