Russia, the NRA and dark money

An excellent article from Ciara Carolyn Torres-Spelliscy, describing clearly how dark money actually works, with startling numbers on how many bucks the NRA spent on the last several elections.

A couple of key excerpts:

But why would this be so significant if the story of rubles flowing through the NRA is correct? For one, such spending by a foreigner in an American election is totally illegal under American law.


Second, if the NRA-Russia-Trump nexus is borne out by the facts, then it will vindicate warnings from Supreme Court Justices and campaign finance reformers who said inviting secretive corporate money into our politics would provide cover for illegal foreign spending in American elections.

This caution was part of Justice John Paul Stevens’ dissent in Citizens United. He was leery of the possibility that inviting corporations into U.S. elections could invite foreign influence. As he wrote, “[u]nlike voters in U.S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled.” He also noted the absurdity of giving equal protection to foreign speakers in this context: it would be like “accord[ing] the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by ‘Tokyo Rose’ during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders.”

Speaking of which, when President Obama said the same thing about Citizens United during his State of the Union, Justice Alito — one of the perpetrators of this awful decision that’s made a mess of our elections ever since — infamously shook his mighty head and clearly said, “Not true, not true,” at the president.

(Don’t we get a recount on a Supreme who demonstrates (a) lousy judgment, (b) prejudice, (c) bad behavior and (d) corrupt corporate ownership?)

And the scariest part:

The reporting by McClatchy (and others) alleges that NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), a 501(c)(4) arm of the NRA, that does not disclose its donors, received money from the Russian banker Torshin. We don’t know if that happened.

We do know how the NRA spent its money. In 2016, the NRA expended $54,398,558 in outside political spending. The NRA spent $31 million of that money to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

Growing NRA Spending

Year Amount Spent
2016 $54,398,558
2014 $27,024,898
2012 $19,767,043
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