Politics is a profession that tends to eat its own young. The ones who survive learn quickly how to feed from corporate largess and the benevolent PACs and lobbies that provide financial sustenance. And the National Rifle Association is one of the very largest providers of said financial sustenance.
Don’t believe me? Then you may want to check this out.
Mic.com reports that data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the NRA — long considered by many to be the most influential lobbying organization in the U.S. — spent a total of $27,205,245 on 50 senators who voted against expanding background checks barely one day after two suspects slaughtered 14 people and injured 21 at a social services center on Dec. 2, 2015.
The amount in that huge sum of money includes direct donations to campaign committees, outside spending to support the candidate (meaning that political expenditures are made independently of the candidates’ committees), and outside spending against opponents. This staggering sum of money spans their entire political careers.
If you ever wondered why the Senate hasn’t passed a decent background check bill, now you know why.
So who are the five politicians who have profited the most at the NRA money pit?
In no particular order:
Number 1 — Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The National Rifle Association funneled at least $882, 646 into his 2014 campaign. In 2013, he voted against a ban on high-capacity magazines. Now, in 2012, our man Mitch only received a paltry $1,000. Butbutbut, he’s been receiving money from the NRA off and on for the past three decades. So it should come as no surprise when he tried to scupper President Barack “Gun Grabber” Obama’s ability to pick a Supreme Court Justice. And he did this despite having once said:
“In a democracy, an up or down vote should be given to a president’s judicial nominees. It’s not complicated. It’s simple, it’s fair.”
So really, what this means, is that a Supreme Court Justice isn’t likely to be appointed until the next president takes office. And it’s not just our man McConnell. Lots of these folks receive money from the National Rifle Association, and many, if not all, are likely on the same page. So when a gundamentalist goes off his psych meds and plugs a bunch of people, this is why McConnell and his ilk respond like this:
— Sen. McConnell Press (@McConnellPress) December 2, 2015
And just for fun, I thought I’d mention this: In 2012, the NRA handed out $1,022,237 to 233 Republicans and 27 Democrats.
McConnell has been a member of the Senate since 1985, and he knows money talks in Washington because he’s been having a long conversation with it. Something to remember for the next time he’s up for re-election.
Oh, and according to NRACongress.com, he’s one of the NRA’s nine favorite Senators.
So who’s next?
Number 2 — Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). This Tea Party-loving Republican whose state was the site of a massacre that killed six people and wounded three others inside a Sikh temple has benefited from the largess of gun rights groups to the tune of more than $1.3 million. That sum is massively more than any other member of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation has received.
This dirtbag has been in office since 2011. When he ran against Democrat Russ Feingold in 2010, the NRA money flowed into his campaign, as did independent expenditures that were engineered to help him after the gun rights group endorsed him a few months prior to his election.
“Ron Johnson will be a strong voice in fighting ongoing efforts by anti-gun politicians to dismantle the Second Amendment,” said Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s lead lobbyist.
Perhaps this is why Johnson slunk out of voting on a gun control bill last December that would have required background checks for people purchasing guns sold at gun shows and online. The bill failed with votes set at 48-50. Curiously, he voted on the proposals right before the bill was introduced and then right after it. Maybe he was caught in a space-time warp or something. Or maybe he wasn’t sure what his pimps at the NRA would think.
And when 12 people were killed at that theater in Aurora, Colorado, what did Johnson do? Go on Fox News and defend ‘Muricans’ right to
go on killing sprees, I mean own guns
“This isn’t an issue about guns,” he said. “This is really an issue about sick, demented individuals. It’s a tragedy, and I don’t think there’s a solution in Washington to solve that problem. …other than look to our families, look to our communities, starting with our education system. We’ve got to re-instill values in what we’re teaching our children. We need to look at families and the education system.”
I wonder if he said that before or after the NRA gave him an A+ for supporting gun rights?
Johnson and his fellow House Republicans are soooo worried about giving mentally ill folks guns that they blocked legislation that would have prevented people on terrorist watch lists from buying firearms legally. And, while they were voting on this on December 2nd, last year, Tashfeen Malik and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook were busy slaughtering 17 people at that community center in San Bernardino. The couple was on terrorist watch lists.
The fact that the powerful interest group the NRA Political Victory Fund has spent $300,510 to keep him in office wouldn’t color his decisions would it? Hmmm….
Perhaps Wisconsin voters can excise this human cancer by voting him out of office, since he’s up for re-election in 2016.
Number 3 — Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). This brings us to (unfortunately) Joni Ernst. Over her career, the NRA has gifted her with $3,124,773. For the most part, the NRA didn’t fund her directly. Instead, it raised $2,792,789 to fight her opponent Bruce Braley in 2014 (who was, of course, for gun control).
We just bet the NRA must have LOVED this video from her 2o14 campaign:
This is a woman who just “loves” her “beautiful” gun.
“I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
In other words, she believes it’s okay to carry her gun whether that intimidates those of us who believe in gun control or not, and she’s also under the foolish notion that in the unlikely event that the government decides on some inexplicable smack-down, she’s going to be armed.
Well I have news for you, Joni dear: If and when the government decides to own your ass, it’s going to come after you with tanks, with nastier guns than you could ever own, with bombs, and whatever else necessary to own your aforementioned stupid ass.
This is one really common notion in right-wing thinking. “If Obummer comes for my guns, I’ma fight with whatever I have.” They never seem to get it that the government is going to fight with bigger and meaner weapons. Oh, and the government is only coming for you if you’re a criminal. Sheesh.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the NRA gives this fool an “A” rating and has endorsed her due to her unfortunate opposition regarding universal background checks and banning lead ammunition. Here’s what she had to say regarding the deaths of seven people at the University of California, Santa Barbara: She called it an “unfortunate accident” (a whackjob murdering several people with a gun is an “accident?” Shame on her), then she continued, saying “because of a horrible, horrible tragedy, I don’t believe we should be infringing upon peoples’ Second Amendment rights.” Yeah, like the rights of those seven people who were “Second Amendmented.”
Keep in mind that when Ernst gave this asinine speech, the NRA and other gun lobbyists were fomenting the conspiracy theory that the universal background checks bill meant “Obummer was comin’ fer yer gunz and gubmint was gonna declare martial law.” After the horrific (there is no other way to describe it) Newtown massacre, the moron, er, director of Gun Owners of America drummed up the “Obama’s gonna take yer gunz” diatribe once again, and stupidly said that if the teachers had been armed there might not have been a massacre. Yeah sure. And, of course, the NRA loves this kind of stuff and even panders to people of color. So, unsurprisingly, the background check bill failed.
That brings us to:
Number 4 — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). Also one of the NRA’s nine favorite jerks, er Senators, Cotton has earned (directly or indirectly) $1,968,714 over the course of his career. Perhaps that’s why he issued this statement after President Obama took action on gun control:
“The executive actions the president announced today trample the Constitution and undermine our unalienable right to bear arms. They purposely seek to blur legal lines and intimidate individuals from exercising their right to buy or sell a firearm. Criminals or other mentally ill individuals who wish to inflict harm with guns will not be deterred by speeches or presidential memos-and the president shouldn’t punish law-abiding citizens in an attempt to prove they will. Today, President Obama has once again chose to bypass Congress and instead use executive fiat to force his own agenda on the American people. Rest assured, Congress won’t be ignored and I am committed to protecting your Second Amendment rights.”
He also made the following statement on his campaign website, OnTheIssues reports.
“I will always defend our Second Amendment rights in Congress. As a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, my soldiers and I kept our rifles and guns within arms’ reach because of a fundamental truth: at critical moments, your life depends on being armed and ready to defend yourself. And I know our founders gave all law-abiding citizens the same rights here at home. As a hunter, gun owner, and NRA member, I understand how central the outdoorsman way of life is to Arkansas’s culture and tradition.”
Of course, it’s especially easy to defend the Second Amendment when the NRA has your back and funds a $1.3 million ad endorsing you against your opponent. But here’s the weird part–Cotton’s opponent, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, also voted against a bill that would have promoted universal background checks. But the NRA’s advert didn’t mention Pryor, instead saying that Cotton will stand up to President Obama’s “extreme” gun agenda.
And what Cotton gets wrong, is that gun control laws aren’t about impacting the rights of the “outdoorsman way of life.” These laws are about keeping guns out of the hands of those that do real harm. That apparently doesn’t matter to him, unless there’s money involved. Perhaps gun control advocates should offer him $1 million and see if he pays attention.
So who’s the politician who’s suckled the most from the NRA cash cow?
Number 5 — Thom Tillis, a Republican senator from North Carolina. He’s earned a whopping $4,418,833 over his career. And coincidentally (okay, not really), he supports legalizing guns far and wide. As Speaker of the House in North Carolina, he even helped pass a bill that expanded concealed carry to school parking lots, public parks, and restaurants that serve alcohol. Doesn’t that just fill you with confidence? No wonder the NRA gives him an A+ rating.
So what did Tillis have to say when President Obama took executive action on gun control? Well, this:
“Instead of working across party lines to implement common-sense solutions supported by a majority of Americans, President Obama is once again overstepping his constitutional authority by attempting to implement laws unilaterally.”
Perhaps The Guardian put it best, in referring to Republican objections to Obama’s executive action on gun control. Noting the uphill battle Obama has dealt with since he took office, The Guardian reported:
“First, the ludicrously overwrought Republican reaction to Obama’s statement shows that the party continues to refuse the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency: in that environment, utterly ordinary and plainly legal presidential actions can and will be cited as examples of a tyranny. Maybe next Republicans will start arguing that Obama is violating the U.S. constitution and the will of the people by delivering the State of the Union address rather than letting Paul Ryan do it.”
Indeed, the Republicans have obstructed Obama on just about everything he’s tried to do. This overview by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer shows what shenanigans the Republicans have pulled to obstruct the President. This was from 2014, but even so, it gives you a good idea of what Obama is still up against.
What makes this particularly shameful is that since the beginning of the year, 5,628 people have been killed by guns. There have been 124 mass shootings, and 240 children ages 11 and under have either been killed or injured as a result. The number of teenagers (actually ages 11-17) killed or injured by guns is 1,219.
I don’t know if any of those who were injured or killed would have been saved if there were stricter background checks, but my guess is that this certainly would have helped. But because 50 senators were lured by more than $27 million to do the NRA’s bidding it’s very likely scores of Americans have died. As they do in so many other ways, these conniving senators put a price tag on human lives, and that makes them disgusting.
Which is why anyone who has the opportunity to do so needs to get out there and vote these despicable creeps out of office.