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Six Questions the NRA Should Answer About its Relationship With Maria Butina, Purported Lifetime NRA Member and Russian National Charged With Conspiracy to Act as a Foreign Agent

July 18, 2018

The NRA has avoided explaining its ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than a year now.

Since the Department of Justice charged Maria Butina, a Russian national with deep ties to NRA leadership with “conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General” and acting as a foreign agent, the NRA still has not made a public statement. It’s time for the NRA to come clean. Below are six questions the NRA must answer.

  • Butina has been charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General” and acting as a foreign agent, and therefore anyone in the US that she had contact with is a potential witness in the Department of Justice’s case. Have any NRA officers, directors, employees, or affiliates testified in front of the Grand Jury or otherwise been questioned by the FBI?
  • Have NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and other NRA leaders and national politicians seen with Maria Butina retained counsel in the investigation?
  • Has the NRA retained counsel to perform an internal investigation into Butina/Russia’s interactions with the NRA leadership and staff members?
  • Did Butina’s Russian gun group, Right to Bear Arms, pay for any expenses, including travel, related to the 2015 NRA delegation trip to Moscow, which included former NRA president David Keene, then-NRA First Vice President Pete Brownell (who later became NRA president), NRA Golden Ring of Freedom chair Joe Gregory and NRA board member and surrogate Sheriff David Clarke? According to Clarke’s personal financial disclosure form for 2016, Butina’s group paid for part of Clarke’s travel expenses, plus meals and hotel fare.
  • How did Butina and Torshin gain access to events for the NRA’s million-dollar donor program, the Golden Ring of Freedom, and what did that access get them? Reports have revealed that Torshin and Butina were regular guests at “Golden Ring of Freedom dinners and VIP events” typically reserved for members who donate $1 million to the NRA. At the 2016 NRA convention, Torshin was photographed wearing a Ring of Freedom badge. The NRA has recently stated that no Russian individuals were members of Golden Ring of Freedom, but are any members of Golden Ring of Freedom either donors or supporters of the Right to Bear Arms?
  • How recently have NRA officials or representatives had contact with Alexander Torshin, Maria Butina or other individuals connected to the Kremlin? The NRA said in an April letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that it was reviewing its relationship with Alexander Torshin. What about its relationship with Maria Butina? Is she also an NRA lifetime member, as Torshin has claimed?


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