NRA rewards Virginia GOP with $200,000 for refusing to fight gun violence


Weeks after Virginia Republicans abruptly ended a special legislative session on gun safety, the NRA cut their leader a huge check.

With a $200,000 check to Del. Todd Gilbert, the Republican majority leader in the House of Delegates, the NRA appears to be rewarding Virginia Republicans for carrying their water during the most recent legislative session.

The massive donation, reported on Tuesday, comes weeks after Republicans ended a special legislative session on gun violence after only 90 minutes, and without passing any bills to prevent gun violence. During that brief special session, NRA staff were allowed to use a conference room belonging to Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox as they gave advice to Republican legislators.

The $200,000 donation is more than twice as large as previous individual donations by the NRA to Virginia Republicans over the last two decades, according to a statement from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC).

The donation sparked an immediate backlash from Democrats, who are seeking to gain the majority in the state legislature after the 2019 election. Virginia is one of a handful of states with elections in 2019.

"It's really shocking to see how blatantly the NRA controls the House Republican leadership," Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, the House Democratic Leader, said in a statement. "Less than two months after blocking any discussion or allowing us to do our work to keep Virginians safe, it is disappointing the Republican leadership now receives this large donation."

The Virginia governor called a special session on gun violence in July following the murder of 12 people in a mass shooting in Virginia Beach. But rather than take any action to address the epidemic, Republicans did the bidding of the NRA and just left town.

"It couldn't be clearer — the NRA is rewarding Virginia Republicans for standing with them instead of their constituents," Jessica Post, president of the DLCC, said in a statement. "Virginia Republicans are extreme and out of touch when it comes to gun safety. Todd Gilbert and the House Republican Caucus are reaping the rewards of their refusal to act, but no amount of big spending by the gun lobby can save them this November. Virginians are ready to vote for change and vote them out of office."

The issue of gun violence could play a pivotal role in the November election. At the moment, Republicans hold a 51-48 advantage in the state House (with one vacancy), and Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the state Senate. All seats in both the House of Delegates and state Senate are up for election this fall.

An overwhelming majority of Americans support commonsense gun safety measures such as universal background checks for gun sales. But rather than passing any kind of legislation to keep Virginians safe, Republicans abdicated their responsibility.

And the NRA bundled together 200,000 thank you notes to show their appreciation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.