A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Federal Election Commission to rule on allegations that the National Rifle Association violated election laws to help the campaigns of former President Donald Trump and other candidates.
A 2019 lawsuit filed for a gun-control advocacy group connected to former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., argued that the FEC had failed to act on four previous complaints alleging the NRA "violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by using a complex network of shell corporations to unlawfully coordinate expenditures with the campaigns of at least seven candidates for federal office."
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Emmet Sullivan on Thursday denied the FEC's motion to dismiss or provide summary judgment in the case, The Hill reported.
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence complaint specifically noted that the contributions resulting from the alleged scheme included "up to $25 million in illegal contributions" to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
The center argued that the NRA's collections from shell entities far surpassed the limits set by the FEC, and that "illegal contributions to the Trump campaign alone are up to 9,259 times the limit set by Congress."
Sullivan granted the plaintiff's request for action to compel the FEC to "comply with its statutory duty to act," adding that the election regulatory agency has 30 days to take action on the complaints, The Hill reported.
David Pucino, senior staff attorney at Giffords Law Center, told The Hill that Sullivan's order was "a resounding win to keep dark money out of our politics."
"Over the last several years and across election cycles, the NRA has been brazenly flouting campaign finance law by illegally funneling money to candidates while claiming to remain independent," Pucino said in a statement to The Hill.
"The NRA has used these tactics not just to obscure their contributions, but to violate spending caps, undermining the integrity of our elections and the rule of law. It is clear that the NRA will continue to violate the law until someone stops them."
The FEC told The Hill it did not comment on pending litigation.
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