Wyden Wants Answers On NRA’s Moscow Trip

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15: From left, ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks as chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listens during the Senate Finance Committee markup of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" on Wednesd... UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15: From left, ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks as chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listens during the Senate Finance Committee markup of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) MORE LESS
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March 5, 2018 12:34 p.m.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has sent a second letter to the NRA asking for details about the pro-gun lobbying group’s finances. The letter zeroes in on the group’s ties to Russian banker and accused mob boss Aleksandr Torshin, a longtime confidant of several consecutive NRA presidents and a “life member” of the group.

The FBI is reportedly probing whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The Wyden letter asks about the now-notorious trip to Moscow taken in 2015 by a number of NRA executives and supporters, including then-Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke, as well about the NRA’s “Golden Ring of Freedom” program, reserved for million-dollar-plus donors.

In one of the pictures tweeted by Torshin’s Russian gun-rights group, Right to Bear Arms, the head of the Golden Ring of Freedom program, Joe Gregory, can be seen in attendance.

“Please identify the purpose of Mr. Gregory’s December 2015 trip to Moscow and confirm whether he attended in his capacity as the individual who runs your organization’s million dollar donor program,” Wyden wrote.

Wyden also asked the NRA to identify “any Russian nationals who were members of your organization’s ‘Golden Ring of Freedom’ program, or any other related donor programs, prior to December 2015 or became members as a result of or in connection with the December 2015 trip to Moscow.”

And Wyden asked for a more detailed rundown of the group’s foreign contributions, and information about how it separates its electioneering finances from the money it receives from foreign sources:

(a)   Do your organizations maintain accounts or funds from which all expenditures are reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)? 

(b)   Do your organizations maintain accounts or funds from which no expenditures are reported to the FEC?

(c)   Do your organizations maintain accounts or funds from which some (but not all) expenditures are reported to the FEC?

This isn’t Wyden’s first letter to the controversial gun lobbyist. The senator wrote NRA treasurer Wilson Phillips in February requesting documents related to Torshin and the group’s Russian membership; the NRA responded without any detail beyond assurances that it complies with the law.

As TPM has reported, Torshin’s links to the NRA are years old. The longtime Putin ally has sent NRA presidents birthday presents, plied them with expensive speaking engagements, and regularly attended the NRA’s annual meetings, most notoriously in 2016, where he met with Donald Trump, Jr.

In May 2016, Torshin tweeted a picture of himself sitting at the NRA meeting next to former NRA president and friend David Keene. In the picture, Torshin is wearing a button that says “I’m NRA, and I Voted.”

Read the letter:

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