Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released the findings of his 18-month investigation into the NRA’s relationship with Russia and potential violations of U.S. tax and sanctions laws.
The report, The NRA and Russia: How a Tax-Exempt Organization Became a Foreign Asset,reveals:
· New evidence that the 2015 delegation to Moscow was an official NRA trip meant to demonstrate Alexander Torshin’s American connections to the Kremlin, contrary to NRA statements that it was an unofficial trip organized by individuals merely interested in fostering gun rights in Russia.
· New evidence that NRA insiders exchanged access to the American political system for the promise of lucrative personal business opportunities.
· New evidence that the NRA may have violated tax laws that prohibit the use of any organization resources for personal benefit.
· New evidence that NRA insiders may have violated U.S. sanctions by meeting with sanctioned Russian government officials and state-linked weapons manufacturers in pursuit of personal business opportunities. In 2018, Senator Wyden asked Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to investigate whether some of the Russian weapons manufacturers the NRA delegation met with have evaded U.S. sanctions by abusing domestic shell companies. He is calling for Treasury to provide a response to his original request.
“During the 2016 election, Russian nationals effectively used the promise of lucrative personal business opportunities to capture the NRA and gain access to the American political system,” Wyden said. “The totality of evidence uncovered during my investigation, as well as the mounting evidence of rampant self-dealing, indicate the NRA may have violated tax laws. This report lays out in significant detail that the NRA lied about the 2015 delegation trip to Moscow. This was an official trip undertaken so NRA insiders could get rich—a clear violation of the principle that tax-exempt resources should not be used for personal benefit. The IRS needs to examine these findings and investigate other publicly reported incidents of potential lawbreaking, and OFAC needs to stop stonewalling and investigate whether Russian arms manufacturers are evading sanctions to do business in the United States.”
“The report from the Senate Finance Committee shows the NRA has been engaged in business activities and self-dealing that likely violate nonprofit rules under the tax code. The NRA has abused its tax-exempt status and essentially become a business enterprise that its board members and leadership use for lucrative personal business opportunities, including in Moscow. As the disturbing truth continues to surface, the NRA’s status as a tax exempt entity needs to be thoroughly investigated,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
A web version of this release is available here.