The National Rifle Association has accepted contributions from at least 23 Russia-linked donors since 2015, the gun rights group revealed in a letter addressed to Congress. The admission came after Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, prodded the NRA as part of an investigation into what political organizations may have been used by Russia to influence the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump.
The money totaled $2,500, with most of it coming from subscriptions or membership dues, according to the letter, which was released Wednesday and first reported on by NPR. About $525 of that money came from "two individuals who made contributions to the NRA," wrote John Frazer, the general counsel for the gun rights group. The 23 people "may include U.S. citizens living in Russia," the NRA said.
Kremlin-linked politician Alexander Torshin, a "life member" of the NRA since 2012, was among the list of donors, but Frazer said the organization was "currently reviewing our responsibilities with respect to him" after the Russian national was listed last week in new U.S. sanctions. In January, McClatchy DC first reported that FBI officials were investigating whether Torshin, who is also a deputy head of Russia's central bank, had illegally funneled money to the NRA in an effort to help Trump.
Although a paltry sum compared with the millions the NRA's lobbying arm has already spent this year, the $2,500 in donations paints a different picture than previous on-the-record disclosures. The gun rights group told ABC News that it had only one contribution from a Russian individual since 2012.
Newsweek has reached out to the NRA for comment but has not heard back.
At the end of the letter, Frazer told Congress that the NRA wouldn't be providing additional information.
"Given the extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature of your requests, we must respectfully decline to engage in this beyond the clear answers we have already provided," he wrote.