by Bob Barr
Perhaps Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has been reading too many Ian Fleming and Tom Clancy novels. This would explain why the Senator’s September report titled, “The NRA and Russia: How a Tax-Exempt Organization Became a Foreign Asset,” reads far more like a fantasy spy thriller than a legitimate Senate report. The dramatic cover for Wyden’s docu-novel sets the tone, that when it comes to the National Rifle Association and Russia, danger lurks!
Give us a break.
This minority committee report reflects the Democrats’ yearning to once again be in the majority, but in fact reminds us how important it is to our country that they are not permitted to regain that position.
This latest Democrat effort to demonize the NRA centers around the comically pathetic exploits of Maria Butina, a Russian citizen convicted last year by the federal government for failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. In the post-2016 Russia-crazed paranoia in which the Democratic Party continues to dwell, that paperwork failure by Ms. Butina is tantamount to being a world-class secret agent, a la James Bond or Mata Hari.
By any reasonable standard, the young woman’s elementary efforts to curry favor with Moscow by making some friends in the United States were never taken seriously by anyone other than a few federal prosecutors blinded by their desire to nail a Russian “hide” to the wall.
Nevertheless, the Butina storyline is just too juicy for the Democrats to let go, especially when they can link it – however remotely — to their favorite bogeyman, the NRA.
Attacks by the Left against the NRA have been the norm for decades but have increased in both creativity and severity since Democrats lost the 2016 election. At the state level, New York is leading the charge; with its Department of Financial Services pressuring insurance companies to stop doing business with the gun-rights organization. At the same time, New York’s openly and virulently anti-NRA Attorney General is attempting to revoke the organization’s corporate charter, which has been in the Empire State since 1871.
Not wanting to be left behind in the fight, Oregon’s Wyden has latched onto the Butina episode to lend a hand at the federal level. He and his staff, along with some of his Senate colleagues are concocting a scheme according to which the NRA, because Butina befriended a handful of its members, should be stripped of its federal tax-exempt status. This is nonsense, of course; but in today’s hyper-partisan and fact-averse world, whether a charge actually makes any sense is completely irrelevant.
In spite of its scary name and the fact that it is labeled a “Senate report,” the content across 70 pages of Wyden’s screed is little more than the continuation of the overblown Butina saga that was in the news months ago. The report centers around a 2015 trip to Russia by a few NRA officials that was partly organized by Butina in order to help launch a pro-gun group in that country. This would have been a big win for human rights in Russia, considering President Putin’s penchant for tyrannical control. However, the mere fact that Butina had a hand in organizing the visit is more than sufficient evidence on which Wyden bases his conclusion that the NRA is an agent of Putin’s government, and thereby has forfeited its non-profit status in the eyes of the IRS.
The taxpayer-funded investigation led by Wyden represents nothing more than yet another in a continuing string of blatantly partisan investigations launched by Democrats in both house of Congress.
Even though the report itself comes from the minority and carries no legal weight, Wyden knows that simply publishing such fantasy will generate media buzz and provide further ammunition with which gun control advocates will fuel their attacks against the NRA. It is precisely the same strategy with which Democrats in the House are pursuing in their faux impeachment effort against President Trump.