Republicans have been raising money off the gun issue forever, but did you know that they are also literally using campaign funds to purchase guns? True story.
According to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), 13 members of the House and Senate have spent more than $25,500 of campaign money to purchase guns, ammunition, or tickets to gun shows and other shooting events since the beginning of the 2014 election cycle.
“Why would members of Congress use campaign money to purchase firearms? Well, these members do it for a variety of reasons, but mostly it is a fundraising gimmick. In some cases, the campaigns buy the guns and then give them as gifts to the candidate’s supporters. For example, in June 2013, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) bought $2,230 in “gifts for speaker” from Turnbull Restoration & Manufacturing Company in upstate New York, which sells and restores a wide variety of pistols, handguns, rifles and shotguns.”
Another reason candidates are using campaign money to purchase guns is so that they can get more gun lovers at their campaign events. They buy the guns and then have them auctioned or raffled off at their events. A few of the lawmakers who’ve used this trick include:
Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)….Flores spent $5,060 with Turnbull on “silent auction items” in 2014.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)…..In 2014 Collins used $1,055 of her campaign money to buy a shotgun from Fox Firearms Sales and Training Services which she then raffled off.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)…..Earlier this year the Cruz campaign auctioned off a Remington 12-gauge shotgun which was engraved with Cruz’s campaign logo. They spent $639 on “donor memento-personalized engraving” with the Dawson Precision arms dealer in Florence, TX.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT)….At the end of 2015 Zinke spent $545 at a gun store in Billings, MT for a “fund-raising event.” He then sent out emails to his supporters saying that he would be giving away “a signed AR-15 to one of my strongest supporters.”
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)….In 2015 King’s campaign announced that they would be raffling off an AR-15 autographed by Ted Nugent. He spent $1,010 at Shooters Outlet in Arcadia, IA on a “raffle item.” A few months later King also raffled off a Henry .30/.30 rifle which was signed by Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum. This time the campaign spent $1375 on the “raffle item.”
In some cases, instead of using campaign dollars to buy guns, campaigns took in-kind contributions of guns and ammo.
Rep. Jason Smith (R-IL)….In 2013 Smith accepted $650 in in-kind donations for a gun he then auctioned off.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)….In 2014 Cornyn accepted $649.99 for an in-kind donation of a shotgun which was then raffled off.
Gun-loving Republicans are also spending money on campaign events at shooting ranges and gun clubs.
Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL)….In 2014 Nugent spent $644 on a shooting event at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center.
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA)….In 2014 Hunter spent $290.72 at the American Shooting Center on “ammo.”
I think with all of these examples it is clear that many Republicans believe that guns will buy them votes. But what is unclear is whether or not some of them are breaking the law. I couldn’t find any mention of background checks in any of the press releases or emails for the guns that are being auctioned or raffled. If any of them are running background checks on the gun winners, they haven’t been open about it. Which leads me to believe that this is just another loophole that the Republicans don’t care about.
Featured image via redalertpolitics.com