Talking Points Memo: Did Citizens United Help Russians Funnel Money To NRA?


The FBI is reportedly probing whether a Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association (NRA) to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.


Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center told TPM that the law is now easy to get around. 501(c)(4)s are required to file reports including the donor’s name if money comes in that is expressly earmarked for an ad boosting a particular candidate. But as long as the non-profit doesn’t divulge the specific content of an ad to the donor, no disclosure is necessary. Anonymity, of course, would be appealing to those like Torshin, the Russian banker whose activities are reportedly under investigation by the FBI. Neither the NRA nor Butina, the Torshin aide, responded to TPM’s request for comment. Noble said any case against Torshin or the NRA would be complex. The FBI will have to look through “bank records, the money coming in, where it went,” Noble said. “And try to trace it through to what it was spent on. Beyond that, you want to know who was involved with it, what they discussed with foreign nationals, who approached who, what were their understandings.”

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