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Sen. Burr Sold His Pricey Townhouse To Lobbyist Donor


The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, has come under fire in recent weeks for unloading stock holdings right before the market crashed on fears of coronavirus and for a timely sale of shares in an obscure Dutch fertilizer company.

Now the North Carolina Republican's 2017 sale of his Washington, D.C., home to a group led by a donor and powerful lobbyist who had business before Burr's committee is raising additional ethical questions.

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Republicans Fear NRA Turmoil Will Hurt Trump’s Re-Election Chances

Republicans are concerned that the seemingly never-ending parade of scandals at the National Rifle Association could seriously hurt Trump’s reelection efforts.

This week Politico reported on GOP concerns about the NRA, which has been a pivotal part of the Republican right’s vote mobilization efforts in the past.

“The turmoil is fueling fears that the organization will be profoundly diminished heading into the election, leaving the Republican Party with a gaping hole in its political machinery,” Politico noted.

The outlet reported that Republicans are already raising alarms and asking the NRA to come clean with its plans for 2020 so they can address possible deficiencies before the race begins in earnest.

Politico noted that Republican senators “have privately expressed concerns” about those problems to Todd Young, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“The situation has folks nervous,” said Gregg Keller, former American Conservative Union executive director.

GOP strategist Chris LaCivita told Politico that the raging internal controversies “will have an impact on the NRA’s ability to raise money, which would be used in elections to turn out its membership.”

In 2016, the NRA gave $54 million to Republicans, with $32 million of that backing Trump through an avalanche of campaign ads and voter mobilization efforts.

Things have gone considerably downhill since.

There are congressional inquiries into the source of some of those funds after it surfaced that Russian money was being funneled to the NRA.

It was revealed that an admitted Russian spy had infiltrated the top levels of the NRA.

The NRA is currently embroiled in a very public fight between key executives, which led to the ouster of its president Oliver North and the revelation that CEO Wayne LaPierre went on lavish spending sprees while the organization was cutting jobs and perks.

Recently, the gun lobby shut down its propaganda arm, NRA-TV, letting go high-profile figures like spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

And in 2018, the NRA’s chosen candidates within the Republican Party lost congressional races all over the country, leading to a Democratic majority in the House. That majority recently passed the first gun-related legislation in years to make it through the body.

On the presidential campaign trail, leading Democratic candidates have been more open with their support for gun-safety legislation than in the past, a clear indication that fear of the NRA’s political muscle is at a new low.

 

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne Lapierre (R) and NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) at the National Rifle Association’s NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Amid Internal Strife, NRA Shuts Down Its Failing TV Network

The National Rifle Association was forced to shut down its official propaganda arm, NRA-TV, after the beleaguered organization of gun extremists ran out of money to keep it going.

NRA-TV consistently produced widely derided content in defense of the NRA’s extremism on guns, like putting KKK hoods on Thomas the Tank Engine.

“After careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming,” NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre said in a statement released late Tuesday night.

Dana Loesch, an NRA TV on-air personality and a national spokesperson for the NRA, is also out. She led the organization’s charge in attacking the teenage survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and has a long history of spreading lies.

“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRA-TV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” said LaPierre.

The organization has severed ties with the advertising firm of Ackerman McQueen, which operated NRA-TV for them.

An ongoing lawsuit between the two parties has exposed sordid details of the NRA’s inner workings. LaPierre spent hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by NRA members on fancy clothing, even as the organization was cutting back on gun safety classes — one of its core functions.

The financial situation has been so dire at the NRA that it cut back on free coffee for employees.

The shuttering of NRA TV continues a slow-motion train wreck at the NRA, one of the pillars of the conservative movement. The disaster has been unfolding for years now.

The NRA faces multiple investigations for a number of issues, including potential campaign finance violations and its ties to Russia. The NRA took in Russian money while investing heavily in Trump’s election in 2016, and an admitted Russian spy was connected to NRA leaders.

Disgraced Iran-Contra criminal Oliver North took the reins for a short while, only to be ousted by LaPierre and others and replaced by a new president, Carolyn Meadows — who almost immediately made a racist attack against Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), a prominent advocate for gun safety.

Along with its internal drama, the NRA has also been losing politically. Many of the Republican candidates it backed in 2018 lost their races, and the Democratic-led House has been passing gun safety legislation after the NRA blocked such bills for years.

Despite years of bloodshed in America’s cities, towns, churches, and schools as a result of gun violence, the NRA has stood in the way of popular, common sense reforms. NRA-TV was a key tool used by the organization to fight against those reforms and against common decency.

Now, largely thanks to the NRA’s ignorance and corruption, NRA-TV is dead. “Thoughts and prayers.”

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

A Glimmer Of Hope In the Struggle For Gun Safety

Late last month, the United States recorded yet another mass shooting. This one took place on a Friday afternoon in Virginia Beach, when a not-so-civil servant mowed down several of his co-workers at a municipal building. The shooter killed 12 people before he was shot dead in a gun battle with police.

That sort of atrocity is now commonplace in this country, too frequent an occurrence to command more than a few days’ attention outside the community in which it occurs. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but we account for nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. Another month, another attack by a deranged gunman in the land of the free and the home of the armed.

But this shooting was followed by something not yet commonplace but becoming more frequent: A few days later, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, called a special session of the legislature to take up gun control measures. That action not only gave urgency to his proposals but also put Northam under the white-hot scrutiny of a disapproving gun lobby — a place that most politicians, especially in purple states such as Virginia, had spent decades avoiding.

Ever so slowly, in fits and starts, the political landscape around the push for sensible gun laws is changing. Finally. The National Rifle Association and its allies are losing their iron grip on Congress and state legislatures around the country. Fewer politicians fear the wrath of the gun lobby.

Credit goes largely to the young activists who took the stage after the February 2018 massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and staff dead. Student leaders refused to settle for the “thoughts and prayers” that had become the familiar refuge of elected “leaders” too timid to push for serious gun control measures. The students marched on Washington, staged demonstrations around the country, took to television commentary shows and endured the mockery of right-wing talking heads.

Their efforts — aided by gun control groups such as the Giffords Law Center, named for former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a mass shooting survivor and gun control activist — have changed the legislative climate. Last year, for the first time in several years, state legislatures around the country passed more gun control measures than pro-firearms proposals pushed by the gun lobby, according to The New York Times.

The students’ activism was also assisted by the NRA’s own self-inflicted meltdown, the result of years of grift and self-enrichment by its leaders. Continually peddling dire warnings of a pending confiscation of firearms by an autocratic government, the NRA has raised hundreds of millions from frightened gun owners persuaded that “jack-booted” government thugs were waiting to seize their weapons. But its principals used much of that money to support lavish lifestyles, and the organization is now struggling financially, according to published reports.

That changed climate has given Northam some room in which to maneuver. As recently as 2007, the Virginia Legislature refused to pass a relatively toothless gun control measure in the wake of a mass shooting that took the lives of 32 people at Virginia Tech. Republicans, assisted by a couple of Democrats, bottled up a bill that would have required mandatory background checks for firearms sales at gun shows. This time, however, Northam may be able to get a bill passed. Noting the shifting landscape, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who was the state’s governor back then, said Democrats now “run using gun safety as an offensive issue,” rather than trying to hide from it or deflect, as they once did.

That doesn’t mean that we will relinquish our leadership in mass shootings anytime soon. There are more civilian-owned guns than people in the U.S., according to the Small Arms Survey — about 327 million people, about 393 million firearms. We own 42 percent of the world’s guns, enough to guarantee that the havoc will continue for some time.

But thanks to some courageous young Americans, we may have found our way back toward sanity. Their future may be a safer place.

IMAGE: Emma Gonzalez, a student and survivor of the Parkland speaks at the first-ever March for Our Lives to demand stricter gun control laws on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca(Sipa via AP Images)