The National Rifle Association is claiming it received only one donation from a Russian between the 2012 and 2018 election cycles.
Steven Hart, the NRA’s outside counsel, told ABC News that Russian banker Aleksandr Torshin paid less than $1,000 to become a lifetime member of the gun rights group.
Hart denied to ABC that the funds went towards election-related activities, and said that the membership application was not part of “a major donor program.”
The FBI is investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the NRA to benefit Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to a January report in McClatchy.
That reported probe has sparked questions about the kind of foreign funds the gun lobbying giant pulls in. Earlier this week, NRA General Counsel John Frazer acknowledged in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the NRA accepted foreign donations and moved money between its various accounts, but said the group did not use foreign funds for election-related purposes.
Campaign finance experts told TPM that murky campaign finance laws make it difficult to know the truth. Because money is fungible, the NRA could legally receive foreign money into its general accounts and then transfer the same amount to its political advocacy arm.
Hart told ABC that the entire FBI probe is “imaginary” and that the NRA’s political arm never illegally accepted foreign contributions.
“This all comes off one report. We’ve been trying to be polite. How do you prove a negative?” Hart asked in the interview.