Republicans just blocked an FEC investigation into the NRA’s connections to Russian spy

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The Federal Election Commission (FEC) chair has issued an open letter calling out Republicans on the panel for refusing to investigate the NRA’s ties to a convicted Russian spy.

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Chairwoman Ellen L. Weintraub took to Twitter with an open letter (embedded below) blasting the three GOP-appointees on the elections agency after they refused to look into multiple complaints about the NRA.

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Russian spy Maria Butina allegedly infiltrated the gun rights lobby in order to report information back to her handler, former deputy central banker Alexander Torshin. He’s a high-ranking former legislator in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political party and had joined the NRA in 2012 as a lifetime member.

Now, Chairwoman Weintraub is doing the only thing she can do since either side of the idiotically constituted FEC’s “bipartisan” board of three Democrats and three Republicans can block an investigation. She’s going public by tweeting:

It’s not as if there’s a big question about the NRA’s Russian ties.

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Eighteen months ago, the group admitted to accepting financial donations from Russian sources.

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Yet Republicans on the FEC accepted the NRA’s paltry explanations of its Russian ties literally without question, according to the Chairwoman’s letter.

Last July, the US Attorney’s office in DC arrested and then indicted Maria Butina on charges of conspiring to act as a spy under a law penalizing unregistered agents of a foreign government which many observers call “espionage light.”

After four months, she decided to flip on her bosses and the NRA, eventually pleading guilty in open court.

It turned out that Butina was a key player in bringing the NRA to Moscow for its infamous trip to Red Square in December 2015.

That trip occurred at exactly at the same time that Trump’s disgraced former National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn was having dinner with Putin to celebrate the RT propaganda network’s 10th anniversary.

This April, Maria Butina got sentenced to eighteen months in federal prison, even though she pled guilty and cooperated with prosecutors, and spent the prior nine months in jail without bond due to her flight risk.

Since then, the NRA has collapsed into civil war, ousting its top lobbyist, shutting down NRA TV and embroiling itself in a blizzard of internecine lawsuits, all while the New York Attorney General has started a probe that could end with the dissolution of the gun extremist group.

Chairwoman Weintraub is right to call the GOP’s “usual evidence-blocking play” an intentional plan to turn a blind eye to an “extraordinarily significant violation” of the FEC Act.

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Unfortunately, the post-Watergate reforms are showing their age after decades of GOP and corporate attacks on the campaign finance system that is supposed to be designed to protect our democracy from both foreign influence and guard against pay to play in our politics.

Instead, even the head of the FEC, the only agency specifically tasked with enforcing federal campaign laws, can only do what any journalist or activist does, and shed light on unseemly behavior in the hopes that public shame will move the needle with those in power, or cause someone else to take up the case.

The National Rifle Association the single entity of gun fanatics most to blame for America’s out of control mass murders and gun deaths.

But it is also a disgracefully unpatriotic organization which is content to take Putin’s money and hide behind the Russian president’s Republican allies after they’ve obviously broken a bunch of federal laws.


Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.

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