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Did the NRA Change Leadership Because of Russian Spy Scandal?

August 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Mark Sumner, Daily Kos

Weeks after being raided by federal agents, the gun organization named new leadership.

Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina started her move on U.S. politics by forming the pro-gun group “Right to Bear Arms” in Russia. That the group didn’t exist, wouldn’t have been permitted by Russian law, and that even the name shows the whole thing was created for an American (not Russian) audience doesn’t seem to have bothered anyone. Republican political strategists welcomed the Russian operative and took her straight to the NRA, where she was immediately besties. But Butina may not have just used the NRA as her patsy and potential pass-through for Russian funds inbound to the Trump campaign: she may have shaped their new leadership.

As Mother Jones reports, the NRA has always been a very conservative organization when it comes to leadership—conservative in the sense that the leadership is selected from those who have done years in the lower ranks of the organization, and a new president is selected only after the contender has done at least two terms in the VP role. Except for this time.

In May, the NRA reported that they were bringing in noted gun runner and liar Oliver North, whose illegal distribution of heavy weaponry apparently entitled him to jump the line. The current president of the NRA, Peter Brownell, announced that he wouldn’t seek a second term. The current vice president, Richard Childress, was bypassed. Why this sudden deviation from the leadership ladder the NRA had followed for decades?

Mother Jones speculates it has to do with something that happened a week before North was announced and Brownell went for the exit. Because at the end of April, the FBI raided the home of Butina. And Butina wasn’t just the NRA’s friend. She was Brownell’s friend, too.

With the FBI poking around Butina’s office, having the guy who accompanied her to Moscow at the top of the NRA ticket may have suddenly seemed … inconvenient.

Butina introduced Brownell to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was on the sanctions list instituted after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It was Rogozin’s job to boost sales of Russian-made weapons overseas. That made Butina’s …read more


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