Political Party/527

NRA Political Victory Fund

Website:

www.nrapvf.org/

Tax ID:

52-1083020

The NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is a political action committee affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA). It grades and endorses candidates for elected office based on those candidates’ positions on firearms policy. The NRA-PVF also makes campaign contributions and independent expenditures supporting candidates who support gun rights and opposing candidates who support gun control.

Background

In the 1970s, the NRA was undergoing a significant transition. Historically, it had primarily focused on promoting marksmanship, hunting, and shooting sports, but some members were increasingly advocating for the organization to adopt a more explicitly political role in combating gun control legislation. This culminated in the “Revolt at Cincinnati” during the NRA’s 1977 annual convention, in which membership enacted a series of changes designed to shift the NRA’s focus more towards political activism in favor of gun rights. [1]

The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, was created in 1975 as part of this transition. According to the NRA, this was in response to the organization having recognized “the critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment.” [2] The next year, in 1976, the NRA established the NRA Political Victory Fund. [3]

By the 1980 and 1982 election cycles, the NRA-PVF was producing brochures, advertisements, commercials, and letters of endorsement regarding candidates. Political scientist Larry Sabato noted at the time that “most of the NRA-PVF’s independent spending has been of a positive nature,” though he also pointed out that it had spent $166,000 to “attack” then-U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy’s (D-MA) 1980 presidential campaign. [4]

Though the NRA-PVF broadly favored Republican candidates in its early years, it also made significant contributions to Democrats. During the 1984 cycle’s primary and general elections, it contributed $186,159 to 86 Democratic candidates for federal office, compared to $459,975 to 155 Republican candidates. The average contribution to Democrats was $2,165 and the average contribution to Republicans was $2,968. [5]

The NRA’s influence continued to grow during the 1990s,[6] and its political spending through the NRA-PVF reflected this. According to data from the Federal Election Commission, the NRA-PVF reported total disbursements of $3,774,796 during the 1983-1984 election cycle. Its spending gradually increased to $5,708,227 in the 1991-1992 cycle, $6,642,888 in the 1995-1996 cycle, and $16,821,436 in the 1999-2000 cycle. [7] According to the Center for Responsive Politics, The NRA-PVF reported $6,954,801 and $7,201,185 in independent expenditures, communication costs, and coordinated expenses in opposition to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, respectively. [8]

Activities

As a self-described “single-issue organization,” the NRA-PVF grades and endorses candidates for office based upon its characterization of “his or her record on Second Amendment issues.” Grades are given on an ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale, and are based on a candidate’s voting record, responses to NRA questionnaires, campaign literature, relevant statements, and other sources. It has a policy of favoring pro-gun incumbents over similarly pro-gun challengers. The NRA-PVF generally does not issue endorsements in judicial elections, describing its involvement in such races as “the exception and not the rule.” [9]

The NRA-PVF is officially non-partisan in issuing its candidate grades and endorsements, stating that it does not base its decision on a candidate’s party affiliation. [10] In practice, however, it has heavily favored Republican candidates as the parties have diverged more sharply on gun rights issues.

According to a September 2020 study by the left-of-center pro-gun control news outlet The Trace, approximately 94 percent of Republican candidates for federal office received ‘A’ ratings in that year, while 92 percent of Democrats received ‘F’ ratings. The report also noted that the share of Republicans receiving an ‘A’ rating was virtually unchanged from other recent elections, but that the percentage of Democrats who received an ‘A’ had dropped from more than 25 percent in 2010, to just a single candidate for the House of Representatives in 2020. [11]

In 2018, The Washington Post reported that past ratings for candidates, which had previously been available on the NRA-PVF’s website, were no longer publicly accessible. A spokesperson for the NRA explained to the Post that grades were “a member service” and were “not relevant after the election.” Another anonymous NRA employee, referring to the archived ratings, indicated that the thought “our enemies were using that.” [12] Archived NRA candidate grades have since been publicly posted by the left-leaning gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. [13]

Finances

According to data from the Federal Election Commission, during the 2019-2020 election cycle the NRA-PVF reported total receipts of $23,421,777.06 and total disbursements of $22,739,548.77. During the 2017-2018 cycle it reported total receipts of $19,220,640.05 and total disbursements of $18,903,069.14. During the 2015-2016 cycle it reported total receipts of $21,591,111.40 and total disbursements of $22,612,663.36. [14]

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2020 election cycle 98.39 percent of the NRA-PVF’s contributions to federal candidates were made to Republicans. During the 2018 and 2016 cycles 97.23 percent and 98.72 percent were made to Republicans, respectively. [15]

During the 2020 election cycle, the NRA-PVF’s independent expenditures, communication costs, and coordinated expenses were 87.47 percent in favor of Republicans and 12.51 percent against Democrats. During the 2018 cycle 54.15 percent were in favor of Republicans and 45.43 percent against Democrats. During the 2016 cycle 17.54 percent were in favor of Republicans and 82.46 percent were against Democrats. [16]

The NRA-PVF made $10,284,900 in contributions to a separate Super PAC called the NRA Victory Fund during the 2020 election cycle. [17][18] The NRA Victory Fund in turn spent $1,499,070 in favor of Republicans and $17,953,458 against Democrats, including $11,684,434 against Joe Biden’s campaign for President, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. [19]

References

  1. Joel Achenbach, Scott Higham, and Sari Horwitz. “How NRA’s True Believers Converted a Marksmanship Group Into a Mighty Gun Lobby.” The Washington Post. January 12, 2013. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-nras-true-believers-converted-a-marksmanship-group-into-a-mighty-gun-lobby/2013/01/12/51c62288-59b9-11e2-88d0-c4cf65c3ad15_story.html ^
  2. National Rifle Association. “A Brief History of the NRA.” Accessed May 21, 2021. Available at: https://home.nra.org/about-the-nra/ ^
  3. Spitzer, Robert J. “The Politics of Gun Control.” (New York. Routledge. 2015). pp. 101. ^
  4. Sabato, Larry J. “PAC Power.” (New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1985), pp. 104-105. ^
  5. Rubinoff, Michael W. “Principle or Pragmatism: Interest Groups, PACs and Campaign Contributions in 1984.” (The Institute for Government and Politics. 1985), pp. 39. ^
  6. Joel Achenbach, Scott Higham, and Sari Horwitz. “How NRA’s True Believers Converted a Marksmanship Group Into a Mighty Gun Lobby.” The Washington Post. January 12, 2013. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-nras-true-believers-converted-a-marksmanship-group-into-a-mighty-gun-lobby/2013/01/12/51c62288-59b9-11e2-88d0-c4cf65c3ad15_story.html ^
  7. “NRA Political Victory Fund.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed May 24, 2021. Available at: https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00053553/?tab=summary&cycle=2000 ^
  8. “National Rifle Assn Independent Expenditures.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 26, 2021. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/national-rifle-assn/C00053553/independent-expenditures/2012 ^
  9. “NRA-PVF Endorsement Policy.” NRA-PVF. May 10, 2010. Available at: https://www.nrapvf.org/articles/20100510/nra-pvf-endorsement-policy ^
  10. “NRA-PVF Endorsement Policy.” NRA-PVF. May 10, 2010. Available at: https://www.nrapvf.org/articles/20100510/nra-pvf-endorsement-policy ^
  11. Nass, Daniel. “A Democrat with an ‘A’ Grade From the NRA? There’s One Left.” The Trace. September 9, 2020. Available at: https://www.thetrace.org/2020/09/nra-grades-2020-election/ ^
  12. Bump, Philip. “The NRA Appears to Pull Old Lawmaker Grades From its Website.” The Washington Post. June 12, 2018. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/06/12/the-nra-appears-to-pull-old-legislator-grades-from-its-website/ ^
  13. “NRA Grades Archive.” Everytown for Gun Safety. June 14, 2018. Available at: https://www.everytown.org/nra-grades-archive/ ^
  14. “National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed May 24, 2021. Available at: https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00053553/ ^
  15. “National Rifle Assn PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 24, 2021. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/national-rifle-assn/C00053553/candidate-recipients/2020 ^
  16. “National Rifle Assn Independent Expenditures.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 25, 2021. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/national-rifle-assn/C00053553/independent-expenditures/2016 ^
  17. “National Rifle Assn PAC to PAC/Party.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 25, 2021. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/national-rifle-assn/C00053553/pac-to-pac/2020 ^
  18. “NRA Victory Fund, Inc. Financial Summary.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed May 25, 2021. Available at: https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00741710/?cycle=2020 (see Other Committee Contributions). ^
  19. “NRA Victory Fund. Targeted Candidates, 2020 Cycle.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed May 25, 2021. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cmte=C00741710&cycle=2020 ^
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