Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden (D-OR) have requested an investigation into the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) alleged activities with Russia.
The letter: On Wednesday, Schumer and Wyden sent a letter to the IRS saying the IRS is bound to investigate the NRA’s activities after Senate Democrats’ report last week on the gun-advocacy organization’s activities with Russian nationals.
“Given this report’s concerning findings and other allegations of potential violations of tax exempt law by the NRA, it is incumbent on the IRS to fully investigate the organization’s activities to determine whether the NRA’s tax exemption should be disallowed,” Wyden and Schumer wrote to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
In addition to the letter, the two senators included their report on the NRA’s activities for the IRS to “use in any examinations of the NRA’s activities and exempt status.”
The senators said that their Friday report titled “The NRA and Russia: How a Tax-Exempt Organization Became a Foreign Asset” reveals “extensive interactions” between Maria Butina, Alexander Torshin and the NRA.
Butina is a Russian national who has confessed to planning to work as a foreign agent while Torshin, a Russian official, has been reported to have worked with Butina, according to The Hill.
“These findings raise questions about whether certain NRA activities violated the organization’s social welfare requirements,” Wyden and Schumer wrote. “Specifically, in addition to multiple meetings between Russian individuals and NRA officials that took place within the U.S., NRA officials and donors met with a number of Russian companies, government officials and oligarchs closely connected to the Kremlin during the 2015 trip to Moscow.”
The two senators say the report suggests the NRA may have used tax-exempt resources for activities that are not tax-exempt.
“In light of the continued efforts of Russia to undermine American democracy, IRS must use its full authority to prevent foreign adversaries from again exploiting tax-exempt organizations to undermine American interests,” Wyden and Schumer wrote.
The response: William A. Brewer III, an attorney for the NRA, fired back at the Democrats’ report in a statement last week, saying:
“An avalanche of proof confirms that the NRA, as an organization, was never involved in the activities about which the Democrats write,” Brewer said in a statement last week. “This report goes to great lengths to try to involve the NRA in activities of private individuals and create the false impression that the NRA did not act appropriately. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In response to the Democrats’ report, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee released their own report which found “no wrongdoing by the NRA or its officials that would reasonably call into question the NRA’s tax-exempt status, based on the documents provided to the Committee.”