Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control group just vastly outspent the NRA to help Democrats win in Virginia

Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control group just vastly outspent the NRA to help Democrats win in Virginia

(*)(**)(***)(***)(****)Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg arrives at Gala Dinner on the occasion of the World Mayors Summit in Christiansborg in Copenhagen, Denmark October (*******************************************************************************), (*************************************************). Ritzau Scanpix/Martin Sylvest via REUTERS ATTENTI(*****)(****)Ritzau Scanpix | Martin Sylvest | Reuters(*****)(******)(******)(******)(***)(****)A gun-control lobbying group funded largely by billionaire Michael Bloomberg just helped Democrats take over the state government in Virginia – right in the National Rifle Association’s backyard.(*****)(****)In Tuesday’s elections, the Democrats tipped the Virginia House and Senate in their favor, giving them full control of the state government for the first time (*******)since (******************************************************)(********). The election had stronger-than-usual turnout in the suburbs, according to media reports.(*****)(****)While the results could be a good omen for Democrats’ chances in (************************************************), it may also be a tipping point in the money battle over gun rights. Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun-control advocacy group that the former New York mayor helps fund, spent $2.5 million this year to influence voters in Virginia versus (*********)approximately $(***************************************************************),(**************************************************************************************)  by the NRA(********), which has its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.(*****)(****)”In the past, the NRA has had its way with lawmakers because it was considered powerful and wealthy, and that has dynamic changed drastically — even within the last year,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown.(*****)(****)The NRA did not immediately respond to request for comment.(*****)(****)Other issues, such as minimum wage and health care, were also a focus for voters in the election. But gun control was in the spotlight. (**********)Three in 4(********) voters rated gun policy, including mandatory background checks, a “very important” issue, according to a (***********)Washington Post-Schar School poll(********). A mass shooting in Virginia Beach left a dozen dead earlier this year, while massacres in Ohio, Texas and California also emboldened groups calling for tougher gun laws.(*****)(****)Bloomberg helped found Everytown for Gun Safety in (****************************************************) to “end gun violence and counter the Washington gun lobby.” The group put its focus beyond Congress, to bring attention to state elections and corporate boards, “(************)fields of play formerly occupied almost solely by the gun lobby(********).” Bloomberg has pledged to spend at least $(*********************************************************************) million to support the cause. The group now has (*************************************************************),(**************************************************************************************) financial backers, though Bloomberg remains a major contributor.(*****)(****)The group’s influence has seeped into corporate boardrooms, too. The Virginia election came after a number of executives came out in favor of gun reform, amid Everytown’s advocacy and a steady stream of mass shootings.(*****)(****)(*************)Walmart(********) in September said (**************)it will discontinue all sales of handgun ammunition(********) and sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition that can be used with military-style weapons, following two “horrific” shootings at Walmart stores this summer.(*****)(****)The same month, chief executives of (****************************************************************) companies (***************)signed a letter(********) urging the U.S. Senate to pass a bill mandating background checks. The list included leaders of companies like (****************)Levi Strauss(********), (*****************)Gap(********) and (******************)Beyond Meat(********). (*****)(****)H.R. 8, a bipartisan proposal, passed the Democratic-controlled House in February passed the Democratic-controlled House in February. The bill has yet to come to a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not put any bill up for a vote unless he is sure that President Donald Trump would sign it.(*****)(****)The list of (****************************************************************) executives (*******************)did not include(********) some of the country’s largest or most powerful institutions such as (********************)J.P. Morgan Chase(********), (*********************)Bank of America(********) and (**********************)Apple(********). It also did not included some of the largest companies headquartered in Virginia, such as (***********************)Dollar Tree(********), (************************)General Dynamics(********), (*************************)Capital One Financial(********) and (**************************)Northrop Grumman(********).(*****)(****)Bloomberg tweeted Tuesday night to celebrate the election results, calling out the influence of another group he helps fund, Beyond Carbon, a $(***********************************************************) million group that advocates for energy reform.(*****)(******)(***************************)Pressure rises on the NRA(****************************)(***)(****)The NRA’s spending on the Virginia election is much less than the $1 million it (*****************************)reportedly(********) spent on Virginia TV ads in (**************************************************), when Everytown-backed Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in the governor’s race. That year, the NRA’s blitz included (******************************)a $(********************************************************),(**************************************************************************************) spending spree(********) between mid-October and Election Day.(*****)(****)But political leaders are increasingly zeroing in on the group, and its financial health is now in question. The NRA has lodged a (*******************************)lawsuit targeting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his state’s regulators(********), saying their efforts to dissuade insurance and financial companies from doing business with the organization will cause “irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm” to the organization.(*****)(****)The NRA is (********************************)under investigation(********) by New York Attorney General Letitia James following allegations of misconduct. Those include (*********************************)media reports(********) of millions of dollars of improper payments, which puts into question its status as a tax-exempt nonprofit. The revocation of that status could have a large impact on its finances, experts have said.(*****)(****)Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has (**********************************)alleged(********) that the NRA acted as a “foreign agent” for Russia during the (***************************************************) election. In a report issued earlier this year, he alleged that convicted Russian operative Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin “utilized a network of Russian oligarchs and high-ranking Kremlin officials to bring the NRA to Moscow with promises of lucrative business opportunities with Russian entities.”(*****)(****)The NRA (***********************************)spent $(*************************************************************************) million(********) to help elect Trump in (***************************************************), more than double the $(*****************************************************************************).5 million spent on behalf of the (*****************************************************) Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org.(*****)(****)The NRA also spent $1.6 million during the first half of the year (************************************)lobbying Congress against laws that would enact stricter background checks for people looking to buy guns(********). While Trump has spoken in support of background checks, he has also said he has spoken to the NRA about the issue “(*************************************)so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected(********).”(*****)(******)(******)(**************************************)(***************************************)Read More(********)

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