September 27,2019

Finance Minority Report on NRA Investigation Heavy on Innuendo; Light on Facts or Historical Context

Unsupported conclusions rely on stretched assumptions & ignorance of existing laws

Washington With no facts to support their call for an audit of the National Rifle Association’s tax-exempt status, Senate Finance Committee Democrats relied heavily on assumptions and innuendo to conjure a mirage of impropriety surrounding a 2015 trip by NRA officials to Russia. However, a report issued today by the committee’s minority staff summarizing its review of the evidence failed to establish abuse of its tax-exempt status.
“…the Minority report reads more like a political document directed at an organization well-known in U.S. politics to be despised by Democrats because of its advocacy for Second Amendment rights. This Majority finds 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,” the Republican majority wrote in its analysis of the minority’s investigation summary.
“The Minority report uses terms like ‘raises concerns’ in an attempt to embarrass the NRA while absolving the Minority from having to assert any serious factual or legal analysis. The Minority report exaggerates several details, while omitting or downplaying mitigating facts. … Glossing over such facts just because they are damning to a narrative does not mean they do not exist. Despite this, the Minority report seeks to use this report as justification for a compulsory audit of the NRA, in order to conduct yet another fishing expedition for wrongdoing.”
The Democrats’ report focuses largely on a 2015 trip to Russia by NRA officials to meet with Russian gun rights advocates who also met with the Obama Administration that same year. Though the minority report casts interactions with Russians as evidence of a broader conspiracy, it omitted critical context about the state of U.S.-Russia relations during the Obama administration. For example, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton called for a “reset” to improve U.S.-Russia relations. The Obama administration also approved a deal that led to the Russian government’s ownership of U.S. uranium assets. Around the same time of that transaction, former President Bill Clinton received $500,000 from Renaissance Capital, a Russian government-linked investment firm that employs former Russian intelligence personnel, for a speech in Moscow. Meanwhile, his wife was in charge of the State Department and a member of the team that approved the sale of U.S. uranium assets to Russia.
Travel Expenses
The minority report claims that a potential NRA payment of about $6,000 in travel expenses for a media executive to join the Russia trip jeopardized the organization’s tax-exempt status. However, while it’s unclear whether any payment was made, such an arrangement wouldn’t warrant an extreme response of jeopardizing the organization’s status. The majority report also notes that combining business and personal travel is not prohibited, despite insinuations in the Democrats’ analysis.
Encounters with Sanctioned Individuals
The Democrats’ report goes into great detail about NRA officials’ encounters with sanctioned individuals while conceding that such meetings wouldn’t be a violation of law.  It argues that the interactions “raise significant concerns” even though it acknowledges that the officials exercised due diligence by checking with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in advance of the meeting to ensure that they don’t run afoul of U.S. sanctions laws.
“Nothing in the Minority report’s discussion of U.S. sanctions law reasonably calls into question the NRA’s tax-exempt status,” the majority report states.
The Republican majority’s analysis is available HERE