Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Schumer are urging the IRS to investigate and possibly strip the NRA of its tax-exempt status after a Democrat-led investigation revealed its connections to a foreign agent.
Findings in a recent invitation by the House Finance Committee raises “questions” about whether violated its “social welfare requirements,” Wyden and Schumer wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig. They were referring to a report released in September fleshing out the group’s supposed ties to Russian nationals.
NEW: In light of the findings of my months-long investigation into the NRA and its ties to Russian nationals and mounting allegations of self-dealing, @SenSchumer and I are calling on the IRS to investigate whether the NRA should lose its tax-exempt status as a nonprofit. pic.twitter.com/PzwkczX1m8
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 2, 2019
“Given this report’s concerning findings and other allegations of potential violations of tax exempt law by the NRA, it is incumbent on the IRS to fully investigate the organization’s activities to determine whether the NRA’s tax exemption should be disallowed,” they added.
They cited the work of Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian woman who pled guilty in July 2018 on a conspiracy charge and on a charge that she acted as a foreign agent of Russia.
Butina is accused of attempting to infiltrate American political groups, including the National Rifle Association to advance Russia’s interests ahead of the 2016 election. The alleged scheme began in March 2015 and continued through 2017, according to an affidavit unsealed in 2018.
The indictment came a day after the Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint charging Butina with conspiring to act as a foreign agent.
Wyden and Schumer said in their letter that the Finance Committee’s probe confirmed ties between Maria Butina, Alexander Torshin and the NRA previously cited by the DOJ. The NRA is pushing back against the Democrat’s assertions.
“An avalanche of proof confirms that the NRA, as an organization, was never involved in the activities about which the Democrats write,” William Brewer III, an attorney for the NRA, said in a press statement in September.
Brewer added at the time: “This report goes to great lengths to try to involve the NRA in activities of private individuals and create the false impression that the NRA did not act appropriately. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The group has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on Wyden’s letter.
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