The Republicans most likely to make a deal on gun control and how much money the NRA has given them to stop it

Who receives money from the NRA and when isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem

Eric Garcia
Thursday 26 May 2022 13:09 EDT
U.S. Senate leaders' differing responses to Texas school shooting

The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and 2 adults dead prompted a new round of negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate will vote on gun legislation. But while every Democrat will likely vote for gun control measures, any legislation will need 10 votes to break a filibuster. This means that Democrats will need to find a proposal that Republicans find acceptable.

Conversely, that means that Democrats will be negotiating with Republicans, who often received money from the National Rifle Association before it attempted to declare bankruptcy last year. Even in its weakened state, the NRA and gun rights groups continue to hold considerable sway. This week, the group will hold its annual meeting in Houston and Republican Governor Greg Abbott, as well as Texas’ Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Republicans, will speak there, as well as former president Donald Trump.

Here’s a list of Republicans who could potentially vote on gun legislation and how much they received from the NRA.

Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina): A regular patron of NRA money

Despite the fact Mr Graham has become more closely aligned with the Trump wing of the Republican Party, the senior senator from South Carolina has expressed some openness to working with Democrats on gun legislation. Mr Graham told reporters on Wednesday that he would rekindle his proposal with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to encourage red flag laws to prevent people who pose a risk from obtaining a firearm. But he was more vague when talking about background checks.

“The problem with this, I mean, the problem is everything we’re talking about doesn’t apply to this guy, but I mean, you just can’t try,” he told reporters. In 2020, when Mr Graham trounced now-Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, he received $9,900 from the NRA, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He received no money from the NRA when he ran for re-election in 2014 but did receive $5,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and $3,000 from Safari Club international. In his 2008 re-election campaign, Mr Graham received $7,400 from the NRA and in 2006, the group gave him $2,500. In 2002, when he won his first race to the United States Senate, the NRA gave him $9,900.

Rick Scott (R-Florida): An NRA member who received no cash and signed gun legislation

The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is actually in the peculiar position of being one of the few Republican senators who has signed gun control legislation. When he was governor of Florida, Mr Scott signed gun control legislation after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018. When he ran for Senate that year and beat Senator Bill Nelson, the largely self-funded Mr Scott did not receive money from the NRA.

Mr Scott has in the past said that he supports red flag laws despite being a member of the organisation.

Rob Portman

Rob Portman (R-Ohio): The NRA’s $3m man

The retiring Ohio Republican is a potential target for Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut’s bipartisan gun legislation, Punchbowl News reported. After a white supremacist killed people in El Paso and in Dayton over one weekend in 2019, Mr Portman said he supported “red flag laws”, which prevent people who might pose a threat to themselves and others from obtaining firearms.

In 2016, the NRA endorsed Mr Portman against former Democratic Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who previously enjoyed an A-plus rating from the organisation. The NRA supporting the Republican Senator further indicated how the group has become far more partisan and Democrats have moved away from supporting gun rights.

That year, the NRA gave Mr Portman’s campaign $9,900 and also spent $242,708 on independent expenditures for Mr Portman, $1.55m in expenditures against Mr Strickland and $3.06m throughout his career, according to a 2016 article in The Dayton Daily News. The NRA also cut a radio ad for him when he ran for Senate in 2010.

Sen Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (R-Utah): The former GOP nominee whose NRA funding has dried up

Mr Romney told The Independent on Wednesday that he was undecided on legislation but had spoken with retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey about legislation on background checks that Mr Toomey has proposed with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

“I’ve long felt that the federal government has responsibility for an effective background check system and if there ways to improve that, I could be supportive,” he said.

After the shooting in Uvalde, many people cited a number from the Brady Center to End Gun Violence that showed he received $13,647,676 from the NRA. But The Salt Lake Tribune found that Mr Romney has received zero dollars since he ran for Senate in 2018. Much of the money he received from the NRA came when he was the Republican nominee for president in 2012 and much of that statistic also stems from independent expenditures that the NRA spent to help Mr Romney defeat Barack Obama, The Tribune reported. The Utah newspaper also reported that was less than half of what the NRA spent to elect Mr Trump.

Susan Collins (R-Maine): The moderate who hasn’t received money in two decades

Senator Susan Collins was listed by Punchbowl News as one of the potential senators Mr Murphy could win over. Ms Collins won reelection in 2020 despite the fact Mr Biden won Maine the same year. In turn, Ms Collins needs to straddle the line and be seen as someone who could work together with Democrats to win over voters who picked her and Mr Biden.

In 2002, the NRA gave Ms Collins $8,900 but has not contributed to her campaigns since, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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