In Texas and beyond, many politicians receive mega-donations from pro-gun supporters

Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, who represent the state where an 18-year-old gunman carried out one of the nation’s deadliest shootings last week, are among Congress’ top recipients of contributions from pro-gun donors, View campaign finance records.

Cruz, in particular, received the most money from pro-gun individuals and groups of any current member of Congress, raising $442,000 during his career, according to an analysis of disclosure reports by the nonpartisan campaign finance research group OpenSecrets.

Cornyn ranks third among current U.S. senators and representatives, receiving a total of $340,000 in contributions from pro-gun donors over his career, after Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who raised $396,000 , according to the analysis.

Direct contributions from pro-gun individuals and political action committees are limited to a relatively small amount each election cycle, compared to the millions of dollars that super PACs and various other unlimited-spending outside groups are allowed to make. spend to support candidates regardless of coordination. with their campaigns. The National Rifle Association’s various external spending committees, for example, spent more than $6 million supporting North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr against Democratic candidate Deborah Ross in the 2016 election cycle.

Still, direct contributions — albeit smaller in size — are an effective illustration of a candidate’s level of support from gun rights advocates.

“Throughout his career, Senator Cruz has fought passionately to protect families from crime and uphold the constitutional rights of Texans,” Cruz spokesman Steve Guest told ABC News.

At the state level, the NRA and the NRA Victory Fund have spent a total of $575,000 in local elections in Texas since 2015, both in direct campaign contributions and independent ad spending to support candidates, according to an analysis of state campaign disclosure reports by a non-partisan body. nonprofit Transparency USA, which tracks political disclosures at the state level.

An AR-15 rifle is displayed during the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston, May 27, 2022.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Campaign disclosure reports also show that executives of Daniel Defence, the maker of the assault weapon the defendant allegedly used in the shooting last week, have been top Republican donors in recent years. years.

Between 2016 and 2020, the company’s president and CEO, Marvin Daniel, and his wife and COO, Cindy Daniel, together donated a total of $300,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, as well as hundreds of thousands more to numerous other Republican campaigns and committees over the years, according to the disclosure documents.

The two are also regular donors to the National Shooting Sports Foundation PAC, together giving the group a total of $20,000 so far in the 2022 election cycle.

Additionally, on January 6, 2021, the company donated $100,000 to the Gun Owners Action Fund super PAC, which was launched shortly after the 2020 election to provide an eleventh-hour boost to Sense of the times. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate runoff that month.

However, super PAC treasurer Nancy Watkins told ABC News that the PAC refunded Daniel Defense’s $100,000 contribution “at the request of the donor” on May 10, 2022, and that the refund would be disclosed in the July quarterly disclosure report to the federal government. Electoral Commission, which covers from April to June.

Watkins did not disclose why the donation was returned more than a year after it was made. Since the Georgia runoffs, the group has been largely inactive, according to its disclosure reports — not receiving major donations or engaging in political activities.

Representatives for Daniel Defense did not return ABC News’ request for comment.

In addition to Daniel Defense’s contribution, the Gun Owners Action Fund received donations from other gunmakers, including $100,000 from Sig Sauer in December 2020 and $10,000 from Luth-AR the following month. However, Sig Sauer’s $100,000 donation was repaid in April, after watchdog group Campaign Legal Center filed a lawsuit alleging the donation violated campaign finance law that prohibits federal contractors from making donations. federal political contributions.

The super PAC was also heavily funded by ESAPAC, another super PAC which itself is funded by major GOP donors like the Ricketts family, Charles Schwab and Ken Griffith.

The emergence of new pro-gun PACs like the Gun Owners Action Fund comes as the National Rifle Association, the nation’s most prominent gun rights group, has been wracked by legal battles and bankruptcy threats.

The NRA, which spent more than $56 million in super PACs and outside money during the 2016 election cycle — including spending more than $30 million to support Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton — doesn’t has so far spent just $9,600 on outside spending for 2022 midterm candidates, according to OpenSecrets analysis of FEC data — a particularly low figure even at this early stage in the cycle.

Representatives for the NRA did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

ABC News

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