NRA's RI PAC Dissolves Following Campaign Finance Complaint

Oct 24, 2013

The NRA's political action committee in Rhode Island, which has contributed a considerable amount of money to Rhode Island lawmakers over the years, dissolved on September 26 after being the subject of a complaint by the Rhode Island chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America.

Sam Bell, state coordinator of the Progressive Democrats, says the group's complaint was submitted September 6 to the state Board of Elections, which monitors campaign spending. The complaint against the NRA Political Victory Fund reads in part:

"Registered in Virginia, this PAC has never reported a single donor. Instead, the PAC reports more than $150,000 in small-dollar donations below the $100 reporting limit. We find that highly implausible.

"We present very strong evidence that the money actually comes from the NRA’s national PAC. Not only is it illegal for national PACs to donate to a Rhode Island PAC (or candidate), but it is also illegal for any PAC to donate more than $1000 per annum to any other PAC. The NRA, we believe, violates both laws."

I've contacted the NRA with a phone call, and a separate email to Darin Goens, who lobbied for the group earlier this year, and will include their response when I get it.

As I reported in February, the NRA Political Victory Fund has contributed more than $120,000 to members of Rhode Island's predominantly Democratic General Assembly since 2002.

The school shooting last year in Newtown, Connecticut, raised the question of whether the legislature would impose more stringent gun measures in Rhode Island. In the end, the General Assembly passed a small part of a related legislative package. The gun lobby has been far more active in lobbying on the issue than its counterparts on the other side.

From my report last February:

"House Speaker Gordon Fox is among the largest recipients of contributions from the NRA PAC. He’s received almost $4000 since 2002. Yet Fox says he doesn’t see the influence of the gun lobby. He says he hasn’t been personally lobbied by the NRA, and doesn’t think the financial contributions have influenced the legislature.

'I don’t think it plays a huge role,' Fox says. 'You just have some people that truly believe in the Second Amendment and take a literal definition of that and they just believe it, and they have members here in Little Rhody who believe that.' "