Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Schumer are urging the IRS to investigate and possible strip the National Rifle Association of its tax-exempt status after a Democratic-led investigation revealed its connections to a foreign agent.
Findings in a recent Senate Finance Committee investigation raise “questions” about whether the NRA violated its “social welfare requirements,” Wyden of Oregon and Schumer of New York wrote in a Wednesday letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. They referred to a report the committee released in September fleshing out the NRA’s supposed ties to Russian nationals.
“Given this report’s concerning findings and other allegations of potential violations of tax exempt law by the NRA, it is incumbent on the IRS to fully investigate the organization’s activities to determine whether the NRA’s tax exemption should be disallowed,” Wyden and Schumer added.
They cited the work of Maria Butina, a 30-year-old Russian woman who pleaded guilty in December 2018 on a conspiracy charge and on a charge that she acted as a foreign agent of Russia. (RELATED: Grand Jury Indicts Russian National Linked To NRA, Adds ‘Foreign Agent’ Charge)
Butina allegedly attempted to infiltrate American political groups, including the NRA, to advance Russia’s interests ahead of the 2016 election. The alleged scheme began in March 2015 and continued through 2017, according to an affidavit unsealed in 2018.
Wyden and Schumer said in their letter that the Finance Committee’s probe confirmed ties between Butina, Russian official Alexander Torshin and the NRA previously cited by the DOJ. The NRA is pushing back against Democrats’ assertions.
“An avalanche of proof confirms that the NRA, as an organization, was never involved in the activities about which the Democrats write,” William Brewer III, an attorney for the NRA, said in a press statement in September.
Brewer added at the time: “This report goes to great lengths to try to involve the NRA in activities of private individuals and create the false impression that the NRA did not act appropriately. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The NRA has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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