It’s hardly a secret that the National Rifle Association’s political power obliterated last month’s Senate bill seeking to expand background checks on gun sales. But do you know exactly how much it costs the NRA to buy a politician’s vote?
Usually, the NRA’s cash infusion ensures that legislation to address gun violence doesn’t even materialize. But the Newtown, Connecticut massacre encouraged a single gun control measure to cautiously tip-toe out onto the Senate floor. Despite the fact that a vast majority of Americans – and an overwhelming majority of NRA members  – support expanded background checks, certain senators allowed the sizeable donations they had received from the NRA, as well as the fear of future NRA-fueled backlash, to influence their vote.
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So, what kind of cash could compel elected officials to aid and abet criminals, the mentally ill and terrorists by leaving open loopholes from them to purchase weapons? In the most recent election cycle, the NRA paid a total of $293,749  to buy the votes of 38 of the 45 people who voted to kill the background check bill.
NRA donations to individual senators in the latest cycle are listed at the end of the post; here is the quick analysis:
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- About 85 percent of the senators who voted against gun sale background checks had received NRA donations during their latest campaign.
- Among these senators, the average NRA campaign contribution was $7,730 for one election cycle.
- The NRA’s favorite senators, who hold the group's “A+” rating, earned 27 percent more cash, on average. The 10 senators with “A+” ratings who opposed background checks together took in $97,950, or an average of $9,795 each in their last campaign.
- The largest amount the NRA donated to a single politician in one cycle was $19,800, which went to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Of the seven senators (not counting Harry Reid ) who voted against expanded background checks without benefiting from a recent NRA contribution, three are Democrats. A fourth, Roy Blunt (R-MO), did receive nearly $10,000 from the NRA for his 2010 House race before getting skipped over for his 2012 Senate race. A fifth senator, Daniel Coats (R-IN), only holds a “C+” rating from the NRA.
NRA Spent $100 Million Influencing Politics Since 1990s
The nearly $300,000 the NRA spent to keep its grip on the Senate in recent years is only the tip of the iceberg. The gun rights group has continually flooded Washington with cash since OpenSecrets.org  started keeping track two decades ago:
- Since 1990, the nation’s biggest gun lobby group has shelled out a total of $21.3 million on campaign contributions.
- The NRA has spent an additional $29.9 million on lobbying since 1998.
- At least $19.8 million of additional outside spending has funded ads, a number which doesn’t appear to include the reported $25 million4 spent just on the 2012 election cycle.
It’s clear the NRA’s immutable and extreme positions serve only to protect the profits of gun manufacturers. No other reasonable interpretation exists for its extreme partisanship over the clear desires of the membership it claims to represent. After all, three in four NRA households  support expanded background checks. Overall, 73 percent of Americans  believe the Senate should try again to pass legislation expanding background checks.
No Hope For House Background Check Bill
Reps. Pete King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) would like to bring the same background check bill  that failed in the Senate to the House floor for a vote, an extremely unlikely prospect given the death grip the NRA currently holds in the chamber.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) pocketed $12,450  in NRA cash in the last cycle, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) raked in $19,850 . That is just the beginning – more than half of House members (242  representatives) have an “A” rating with the NRA.
The more people who are aware of the connection between campaign contributions and voting records, the more transparent politics will be. Citizens have a responsibility to hold their lawmakers accountable. Consider sharing this information to help pierce the NRA armor.
Recent NRA Donations to 45 Senators Who Killed Expanded Background Checks
Below is a senator-by-senator, state-by-state breakdown of what the NRA spent in campaign donations in each senator’s most recent election cycle. Everyone listed has an “A” NRA rating unless otherwise noted. The “N/A” designation means they were one of the seven who the NRA did not fund.
The New York Times has put together a terrific interactive map with the same information.
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), $4,500
Mark Begich (D-AK), N/A
Jeff Sessions (R-AL), A+, $4,950
Richard Shelby (R-AL), A+. $13,400
John Boozman, (R-AR), $4,950
Mark Pryor (D-AR), C-, N/A
Jeff Flake (R-AZ), $6,950
Marco Rubio (R-FL), B+. $4,950
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), A+, $12,200
Johnny Isakson (R-GA), $2,500
Chuck Grassley (R-IA), $6,950
Jim Risch (R-ID), A+, $14,850
Michael D. Crapo (R-ID), A+, $5950
Daniel Coats (R-IN), C+, N/A
Jerry Moran (R-KS), $7,950
Pat Roberts (R-KS), $5,950
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), $19,800
Rand Paul (R-KY), N/A
David Vitter (R-LA), $4,950
Roy Blunt (R-MO), N/A in Senate Race, however Blunt received $9,900 from the NRA in his 2010 House race.
Thad Cochran (R-MS), $8,500
Roger Wicker (R-MS), A+. $13,350
Max Baucus (D-MT), A+, $7,450
Richard Burr (R-NC), $7,900
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), N/A
John Hoeven (R-ND), $4,950
Mike Johanns (R-NE), $4,800
Deb Fischer (R-NE), $4,950
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), N/A
Harry Reid  (D-NV), B, $8,950
Dean Heller (R-NV), $9,900
Rob Portman (R-OH), $9,900
Tom Coburn (R-OK). $2,000
James M. Inhofe (R-OK), A+. $8,400
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), $7,400
Tim Scott (R-SC), $2,000
John Thune (R-SD), A+, $7,500
Bob Corker (R-TN), $4,950
Lamar Alexander (R-TN), $9,900
John Cornyn (R-TX), $12,450
Ted Cruz (R-TX), A+. $9,900
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), $5,000
Mike Lee (R-UT), $2,500
Ron Johnson (R-WI), $5,950
John Barrasso (R-WY), $17,349
Michael B. Enzi (R-WY), $5,950
 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) $8,950 donation from the NRA is not included in the donation averages because he reportedly voted against the bill only as a procedural move to allow him to re-introduce it later.
 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reportedly voted against the expanded background check bill as a procedural move to allow him to re-introduce it later.