It looks like the Federal Election Commission believes there could be an un-holy alliance between Russia and the National Rifle Association, so much so that the FEC is launching an investigation into the existence of such a partnership. The suspicion is that Russian groups gave illegal donations to the NRA whose purpose was to support candidate Trump in his 2016 election campaign. The investigation was in response to a complaint from a liberal advocacy group, American Democracy Legal Fund. They requested that the FEC check media reports revealing a connection between the American gun rights lobbying group and Russian entities. Media reports also mentioned a banker with close connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin was also involved.
According to the way FEC probes are conducted, the early investigation will most likely request the NRA to hand over internal documents and campaign finance records, which are closely guarded by the NRA. After the preliminary probe the FEC could then initiate a full-blown investigation, impose fines, or could even suggest to the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller to make criminal referrals.
The NRA, together with its lobbying arm the Institute for Legislative Action, gave $30 million to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat from Oregon, and the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, is interested in whether Russian-backed groups helped the Trump presidential bid by sending funds into the NRA which was then handed off to the campaign.
“I am specifically troubled by the possibility that Russian-backed shell companies or intermediaries may have circumvented laws designed to prohibit foreign meddling in our elections by abusing the rules governing … tax exempt organizations,” Wyden wrote in a letter he sent to the NRA on February 2, 2018.