Donations from the National Rifle Association for the 2018 midterm election are down sharply this election cycle following a year that saw several high-profile mass shootings, one of which led to a call for companies and candidates to cut ties with the gun owner advocacy group.
According to filings from the Federal Election Commissions, the NRA has spent around $11 million on contributions in the 2018 midterm elections. The final tally will be released after Tuesday's elections.
The drop in spending comes in a year that has seen an investigation into what federal authorities say were Russian agents seeking to influence the 2016 election by trying to funnel money through the group, in addition to mass shootings and a drop in individual and corporate support.
Others say the decline in campaign funding is due to a decline in membership and fundraising in the wake of mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.
In the 2014 midterm election, the NRA's political action committee and political nonprofit arm spent more than $14 million on independent expenditures and around a million on direct campaign contributions to candidates and groups. At this point for the 2018 election, the NRA has spent $9,114,585 in independent expenditures and just over $800,000 in direct contributions to candidates.
In the 2016 presidential election, the group spent a whopping $54 million in support of the presidential and congressional races. Of that amount, $11 million went in support of Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $20 million went out in expenditures attacking Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Organizations such as the NRA may support (or oppose) candidates by making independent expenditures. Independent expenditures are generally in the form of advertisements for a candidate – or against that candidate’s opponent. Independent expenditures can also include items like paying for flyers to be printed or paying the postage to mail them out.
Independent expenditures are not considered contributions to candidates and are not subject to contribution limits. The donor may not coordinate with candidates in spending the money.
In contrast, the gun safety political action committee created by Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head at a 2011 constituent meeting in a Tucson suburb parking lot, has spent $15 million this election cycle.
Here are the candidates whose campaigns have received the most direct contributions from the NRA in this election cycle. The numbers below are from Open Secrets, a nonpartisan website that “tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy,” and they are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more.
All donations were made during the 2018 election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission. Figures for the current election cycle are based on data released on Oct. 26, 2018.
House of Representatives
- Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee – $10,850
- John Culberson, R-Texas – $9,900
- John Faso, R-New York – $9,900
- Collin Peterson, D-New Mexico – $9,900
- Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine – $9,900
- Jim Renacci, R-Ohio – $9,900
- Pau Ryan, R-Wisconsin – $9,900
- Pete Sessions, R-Texas – $9,900
- Claudia Tenney, R-New York – $9,900
- Lee Zeldin, R-New York – $9,900
- Steve Chabot, R-Ohio – $7,950
- Mike Coffman, R-Colorado – $7,950
- Andy Barr, R-Kentucky – $7,450
- Ted Cruz, R-Texas – $9,900
- Josh Hawley, R-Missouri – $9,900
- Dean Heller, R-Nevada – $9,900
- Patrick Morrisey, R-West Virginia – $9,900
- Matt Rosendale, R-Montana – $9,900
- Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi – $8,950
By the numbers:
- The NRA donated $11,016,966.13 this calendar year to date.
- Three Democratic candidates for the House – Collin Peterson of New Mexico; Henry Cuellar of Texas, Sanford Bishop of Georgia – received more than $1,000 from the NRA during this election cycle.
- Eight Democratic candidates for the House each received $13 from the NRA during this election cycle.
- When it comes to direct contributions from gun rights groups, Republicans are the overwhelming beneficiaries. In this election cycle, a group of gun rights organizations, including the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International, Gun Owners of America, National Association for Gun Rights, Dallas Safari Club and the Ohio Gun Collectors Club, have donated to 206 Republicans for a total of more than $2 million and six Democrats, for a little over $55,300.
- Gun control groups have spent more than $5.6 million against Republican candidates vs. $4.1 million in support of Democrats.
- The NRA has spent more than $4 million this cycle on lobbying efforts.
- Between its political nonprofit and super PAC, Everytown for Gun Safety former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control group, has donated more than $4 million (most in advertising buys) to help Lucy McBath's campaign for Georgia's 6th District.
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