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NRA sued for illegally funneling $35 million to gun rights candidates

NRA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) and Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (R) welcome President Donald Trump (C) onstage to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, April 28, 2017. (Reuters photo)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been sued for allegedly breaking federal campaign finance laws by making illegal contributions.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, gun control advocacy group Giffords alleged that the NRA has been violating campaign finance laws since 2014.

The NRA made as much as $35 million in "unlawful" and "unreported in-kind campaign contributions" to seven federal candidates, including candidates for US Senate in 2014, 2016, and 2018, and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, according to the suit.

Giffords alleged the NRA illegally contributed up to $25 million to Trump's White House run. Thom Tillis, Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, Ron Johnson, Josh Hawler and Matt Rosendale are other politicians named as having received these funds.

"The NRA has long acted like it is above the law, and it has done so flagrantly in the last several election cycles. This lawsuit demonstrates that the NRA broke the law by illegally coordinating with federal campaigns and funneling millions of dollars to candidates who supported their extremist, deadly agenda," David Pucino, a senior staff attorney at Giffords Law Center, said in a statement.

Among forms of relief the suit seeks are a penalty equal to the amount of money spent unlawfully, which the NRA would pay to the US treasury.

"We are suing the NRA to finally hold them accountable for actions that corrupted politicians and undermined our democracy," Pucino said.

The lawsuit was filed by campaign finance watchdog Campaign Legal Center on behalf of Giffords in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

In August, New York's attorney general said the NRA had failed to root out rampant internal corruption.

The association had attempted to use Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reincorporate in Republican-dominated Texas and escape what it described as a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York, where it was founded in 1871.

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