NRA’s 2020 forecast: Cloudy with a chance of coordination

Campaign Finance

I had the pleasure of talking with CNN’s Brian Todd on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer about the NRA’s recent controversies earlier this week.

In late 2018, we reviewed the NRA’s most recent tax returns to uncover a deficit and an investigation revealed payments tied to an alleged illegal coordination scheme with the Trump campaign.

This week, we dug more into the NRA’s prospects going into the 2020 election so all of the information about the NRA’s spending in elections and other key financial information is all in one place. Check it out on OpenSecrets: Controversy clouds NRA’s 2020 election outlook.

New foreign influence stories

Foreign Influence

The Center for Responsive Politics published a number of new foreign influence stories using the Foreign Lobby Watch tool over the past week.

First, FEC filings showed a Chinese-owned company’s $1.3 million contributions to pro-Jeb! Bush super PAC Right to Rise—found to be illegal foreign interference resulting in the biggest FEC fine since Citizens United—wasn’t the only money the company funneled into U.S. elections.


Plus, FARA filings revealed new foreign agents cleaning the reputation of a fugitive Malaysian financier in the billion-dollar 1MDB scandal tied to Trump’s campaign, Paris Hilton, a Trump Organization ethics advisor, Chris Christie, Marc Kasowitz, Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebrities.

Then, foreign agents of embattled Chinese telecom giant Huawei registered under FARA for the first time as part of their multi-part litigation, lobbying and public relations strategy.

Check them out on OpenSecrets:

Chinese-owned company that gave illegal $1.3 million to Jeb Bush super PAC also gave to pro-Clinton groups

Fugitive Malaysian financier in multibillion-dollar scandal building army of foreign agents in the U.S.

US firms register as foreign agents of embattled Chinese telecom giant Huawei

Following Citizens United, foreign-owned corporations funnel millions into US elections

Bonus:

Former EPA official launches ‘dark money’ group to promote Trump’s energy agenda

Campaign Finance, Ethics

An outgoing Trump administration official launched a new “dark money” group after leaving the EPA “to promote the Trump energy agenda” the same day House Democrats unveiled the Green New Deal but the 501(c)(4) nonprofit’s website was purchased weeks before she resigned. Read more on OpenSecrets:

Former EPA official launches ‘dark money’ group to promote Trump’s energy agenda

New FARA Disclosures

Campaign Finance, Foreign Influence

Despite the government shutdown dragging on, the Justice Department has released some of the recent disclosures made in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) — and the Center for Responsive Politics dug right in.

Check out our new posts on OpenSecrets:

Former Senator Vitter among foreign agents paid to ease sanctions on Russian oligarch’s firm
Ex-Congressman McKeon doubles down on Saudi Arabia lobbying efforts

Joe Lieberman formally registers as lobbyist for Chinese telecom giant ZTE

Campaign Finance, Foreign Influence

LDA disclosures show former Senator Joe Joe Lieberman has registered as a lobbyist for China’s controversial telecom giant, ZTE, but claims he’s not really lobbying and its close Chinese government ties raise questions about FARA foreign agent rules. Check it out on OpenSecrets:

Joe Lieberman formally registers as lobbyist for Chinese telecom giant ZTE

Trump 2020 campaign used a shell company to pay ad buyers at the center of alleged illegal coordination scheme with NRA

Campaign Finance

Our new investigation found that Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign used a shell company to pay ad buyers in an alleged illegal coordination scheme with the NRA while America First’s pro-Trump super PAC and “dark money” 501(c)(4) nonprofits paid the same individuals for “pro-Trump agenda” ads. Check it out on OpenSecrets:

Trump 2020 campaign used a shell company to pay ad buyers at the center of alleged illegal coordination scheme with NRA

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Inside the controversial operation that allegedly tricked veterans into lobbying for Saudi Arabia

Foreign Influence

NRA leader David Keene, Jack Abramoff and GOP operative Paul Erickson have a long history as foreign agents lobbying together over a decade before alleged Russian spy Maria Butina. Check it out on OpenSecrets:

Inside the controversial operation that allegedly tricked veterans into lobbying for Saudi Arabia

NRA leader, Jack Abramoff and GOP operative tied to alleged Russian spy Maria Butina have long history as foreign agents lobbying together

Foreign Influence, Uncategorized

NRA leader David Keene, Jack Abramoff and GOP operative Paul Erickson have a long history as foreign agents lobbying together over a decade before alleged Russian spy Maria Butina. Check it out on OpenSecrets:

NRA leader, Jack Abramoff and GOP operative tied to alleged Russian spy Maria Butina have long history as foreign agents lobbying together

Bonus: Here’s a Twitter thread including a nugget about televangelist Pat Robertson that didn’t make it into the post:

NRA spends second straight year in the red with $18 million deficit

Campaign Finance, Tax Law

The National Rifle Association of America experienced a $55 million decline in income last year, finding itself in the red for a second consecutive year, according to a new tax return reviewed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Check it out on OpenSecrets:

NRA spends second straight year in the red with $18 million deficit