Home Supporting structure Texas officials took over $14 million from gun rights groups

Texas officials took over $14 million from gun rights groups

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Texas representatives in the 117th Congress took more money from gun rights groups than lawmakers in any other state, a new OpenSecrets analysis found.

Senators and House members representing Texas have received more than $14 million in gun rights interest contributions during their careers, much of it from the National Rifle Association.

Texas also ranks second among the 19 states followed by OpenSecrets for state-level lobbying by gun advocacy groups with more than $3 million spent from 2015 to 2021. During this period, the NRA has spent more for state-level lobbying state in Texas than any other state in the 19 states tracked by OpenSecrets with over $2.5 million spent.

The influence wielded by gun rights groups in Texas is also evident in the organizing and advocacy efforts carried out by the NRA.

The NRA is holding its annual meeting this weekend in Houston, a few hours drive from the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where at least 19 children and two teachers were killed in a shooting Tuesday.

Several politicians are expected to speak at the event, which is expected to be the biggest of the year for the gun lobby after previous events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the headliners slated for the convention — including Texas Governor Greg Abbott — canceled in-person appearances after coming under fire for taking money from the NRA and pursuing plans to speak at the of the event after the shooting. Abbott must still address attendees in a pre-recorded video message.

The NRA convention schedule also includes multiple in-person appearances by politicians who have benefited from the gun rights group’s largesse, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former President Donald Trump. .

Trump is due to headline a forum at the NRA’s annual meeting, and the NRA has issued a notice telling attendees they won’t be able to carry firearms, toy guns, or “weapons.” any kind” during the forum titled Trump.

Trump’s presidential bids have received significant financial support from the NRA. The gun rights group spent a record $54.4 million in the 2016 federal election, with most of that spending channeled through the NRA’s flagship lobbying arm, a “d ‘dark money’ 501(c)(4) that does not disclose its donors. Almost all of the NRA’s spending in 2016 went to boosting Trump’s presidential election.

Although tax records show revenue for the NRA’s main lobbying arm plummeted to around $282 million in 2020 after finishing several years in the red, the group still paid out tens of millions of dollars for influence the elections. Most of the $29 million the NRA spent on the 2020 federal election also went to support Trump in the final months before Election Day.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is scheduled to speak at the NRA’s annual meeting, is the biggest recipient of political contributions from gun rights interests, raising an estimated $749,000 during his career .

Gun rights interests also poured money into outside spending to boost Cruz. Of the more than $154,000 spent supporting Cruz since his election to Congress in 2012, about $122,000 has been funded by the NRA.

The NRA’s calendar of events includes a pre-recorded video message from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican with a long history with the gun rights organization. Abbot has received more than $20,000 in contributions from gun rights groups, most of it from the NRA and the Texas State Rifle Association.

In June 2021, several members of the NRA leadership – NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and NRA Chairwoman Carolyn Meadows – joined Abbott for a special bill-signing ceremony for House Bill 1927. , NRA-backed legislation that allows Texans to carry handguns for self-defense without a state license as long as they don’t have a criminal history.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is still scheduled to speak at the event.

Paxton won the GOP nomination on Tuesday in a runoff against Texas Lands Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In November, Paxton will face Rochelle Garza, a civil rights lawyer who won the Democratic nomination.

While running for re-election, Paxton is arraigned on securities fraud charges from 2015, but has pleaded not guilty and is still awaiting trial. In addition to the felony charges, Paxton is also reportedly being investigated by the FBI for corruption charges and the Texas State Bar is considering taking action against Paxton for his role in filing a complaint. contesting the presidential election results in four states won by President Joe. Biden. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

After the shooting, Paxton suggested arming the teachers as a possible solution.

Paxton is a longtime champion of the gun industry, and the industry in turn has poured in money to support the controversial politician.

The NRA, the Texas State Rifle Association, and the Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund all made political contributions to Paxton.

But Paxton’s relationship with gun rights interests goes far beyond money.

Paxton “welcomed” the NRA to Texas when the gun rights organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2021, seeking to restructure in Texas and avoid lawsuits in New York. The New York Attorney General began investigating the National Rifle Association for corruption in 2019 and decided to dissolve its 501(c)(4) nonprofit in 2020.

“The NRA has been instrumental in defending our Second Amendment rights and we would welcome them with open arms to relocate to Texas!” Paxton tweeted at the time.

In April, Paxton signed an amicus brief supporting the NRA’s petition in partnership with the California Rifle and Pistol Association asking the Supreme Court to hear Duncan v. Bonta, a case challenging California’s ban on magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.

Gun money across party lines

The contributions of gun rights groups in the Lone Star State are not limited to Republicans.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is a Democratic incumbent who has a history with the NRA.

Cuellar faced progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros on Tuesday in the Texas primary. As Cuellar declared victory, his lead was less than 200 votes and the ballots are still being counted, so the race could head to a runoff. The winning Democrat will face Cassy Garcia, a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who won her own runoff in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

The NRA has given Cuellar tens of thousands of dollars in donations and outside spending to boost Cuellar since his election to Congress, totaling $31,669 since 2002.

Most recently, Cuellar’s 2018 re-election campaign accepted $6,950 in donations from the NRA Political Victory Fund. A campaign spokesperson said CNBC that Cuellar has no intention of returning the money to the NRA or to charity, apparently asking, “Why would he do that?”

Cuellar held an A rating with the NRA heading into the 2018 midterms and was one of only three Democrats to receive campaign contributions from the NRA this cycle. But his grade went from an A to a C after backing an expansion of background checks. The NRA has given him nothing since the 2018 election cycle.

The Two Sides of the Gun Control Debate Spend Big in California

California ranks first among members of Congress who receive money from gun control groups with $968,754 in career contributions, but state lawmakers have taken a hit. money to groups on both sides of the issue.

As two of the largest states in the country, California and Texas each have more congressional representatives than any other state, meaning more state legislators may already be more likely to cumulatively attract more silver.

But many individual lawmakers in those states are also primary recipients of funds from armed groups, and the states were the top two targets of lobbying spending by gun rights interests in the 19 states tracked by OpenSecrets.

California ranks second among the 19 states followed by OpenSecrets for most funds spent on lobbying by the NRA from 2015 to 2021 and first overall for lobbying by gun rights groups during that time. Gun advocacy groups spent more than $2.1 million lobbying in California from 2015 to 2021, including $811,899 funded by the NRA.

California lawmakers recently introduced a package of gun control bills, including one sponsored by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom that uses the structure of Texas’ abortion ban to crack down on illegal guns. .

Newsom opened the legislative session this year with a call to action inspired by Texas Republicans and the conservative majority in the nation’s highest court.

The law would give Californians the right to sue manufacturers, sellers and distributors of illegal assault weapons, ghost weapons and certain firearms and collect at least $10,000 in civil damages per weapon , thus putting a premium on firearms.

Other California gun proposals include bills banning the advertising of certain firearms to minors, requiring school officials to report any “perceived threat” of a mass shooting to law enforcement. order, banning the sale of firearms on government property and forcing gun dealers to step up security.