When we previously discussed New York Attorney General Letitia James’ efforts to dissolve the National Rifle Association in its entirety, I noted that many legal analysts have weighed in on the subject negatively, including some of the NRA’s traditionally ardent opponents. This legal maneuver has all the characteristics of a political hit job in the making and James may be overreaching to the point where her entire effort will collapse in upon itself. But at the same time, some of the allegations she’s bringing forward obviously have the ring of truth to them.
As I wrote at the time, the only real “victims” in the alleged fiscal abuses of Wayne LaPierre and others are the members who have donated millions of dollars to the cause every year. And if there is any blowback coming to the upper management of the NRA, it would (and probably should) be coming in the form of people voting with their wallets and their feet rather than some court-ordered mandate. There hasn’t been much time for all of this news to sink into the system yet, but it’s possible that we’re seeing an early indicator of just such a response. The Free Beacon reports this week that contributions to the group’s PAC, the NRA Political Victory Fund (PVF), and its associated Super PAC have registered some of their worst fundraising numbers in many months.
The National Rifle Association’s political action committee saw a steep drop-off in fundraising during the month of July, federal records show.
The NRA Political Victory Fund (PVF) brought in $628,404 in July, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, down 42 percent from June when the group brought in more than $1.1 million. The new fundraising haul is the lowest for the PAC since January. This amount is also a 42 percent drop from the same time period during the 2016 election cycle.
An NRA official with knowledge of the group’s fundraising plans said the July shortfall was due to a shift in strategy. The official said the group is undertaking a major fundraising campaign centered around August’s political conventions.
An NRA spokesperson speaking on background went on to claim that this dip in fundraising was anticipated because the group’s approach to the general election was focused primarily on the conventions of the two parties and the weeks that follow. They will be focusing both their fundraising and their advertising on the period we’re entering into right now and targeting key markets in critical contests.
The spokesperson went on to point out that the PVF still has $15.4 million in cash on hand at the moment. That’s three million more than they had during the same period during the 2016 election. Those are definitely valid points and bode well for the NRA’s ability to get their pro-Second Amendment message out to voters. But at the same time, as I noted above, we’re only a few weeks into this new era of bad headlines about the group and the spending habits of those in charge.
It’s still possible that the NRA’s members and regular donors may shrug the news off, for the most part, expecting the leadership to accept this as an opportunity to mend their ways and do better going forward. But if these sagging contributions continue in the coming months, the group could be in serious trouble. I doubt that a court will dissolve them, but a lack of faith in the organization’s handling of donations that results in fewer contributions and people failing to renew their memberships could weaken the NRA significantly.
It would be a shame if that were to happen. The NRA has been a loud and effective voice for defenders of the Second Amendment for a very long time. Yes, there are some other groups out there with similar goals, but none of them have the established reach and experience of the National Rifle Association when it comes to electoral advocacy on this topic. Personally, I’m taking a wait and see attitude before making up my mind. If the NRA refuses to address the issue and simply remains in denial (assuming verifiable proof of profligate spending is offered), I might begin to feel differently. But for now, I’m willing to give them a chance and see if they can straighten up their own house.