On Thursday, January 18, 2018, The House Intelligence Committee released seven hours of testimony recounting the interview with Glenn Simpson of FusionGPS. The Republican-controlled committee had shown little interest in releasing the testimony until their hand was forced by a release of ten hours of Senate Judiciary Committee testimony by Diane Feinstein, against the wishes of Republican Chairman, Chuck Grassley.
Possibly lost in the House testimony which discussed Trump ties to both the Italian and Russian mobs and multiple inferences of money laundering, was the mention of Russia infiltrating the NRA and possibly funneling millions of dark money (donors undisclosed) to support Donald Trump’s bid for election. It’s true that the NRA spent three times as much ($30 Million) in support of Trump than it did for Mitt Romney four years earlier. What we don’t know is how much of that money came from Russia?
This is all possible because the Supreme Court upheld Citizens United, which says that the free speech clause of the First Amendment allows for unlimited political contributions from nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, unions, and other associations for “independent expenditures for communications.” It is the law that equates corporations with people and allows for anonymous corporate donations.
While illegal for foreign nations to contribute to American elections, apparently the Russians didn’t care, the NRA didn’t care, and there is little reason to suggest that Congress will care, as all Republicans and many Democrats are beholden to the NRA for their own campaign financing.
Also deep in the transcript of the interview, is that in addition to the NRA, Russia is using multiple outlets in its attempts to influence American elections. There is no solution which does not involve the United States Congress, passing a bill which replaces Citizens United and takes dark money out of politics. It would be nice if every member that received donations from the NRA and any other organization filtering Russian money, donated a like amount to a charitable cause that benefits this country, not another.
The NRA has some cleaning house to do, we’ll see how willing they are to address their infiltration and what actions if any they take? The issue is bigger than that, however. The issue is whether we as a country are willing to cede our independence to Russia, or China, the Koch brothers and I’ll throw in George Soros to make my Republican friends happy. What is the justification for having any dark money in our election process? I can think of none.