Four liberal political action committees (PACs) that support only Democrats gave more than $393 million in independent campaign contributions during the 2016 election cycle, an amount that collectively was seven times more than that reported by the NRA.
Even the average for the four liberal groups — $98.25 million – exceeded the $54.4 million total spent by the gun rights group, according to an examination of Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign funding data compiled by opensecrets.org.
The campaign spending data provide a marked contrast to a familiar narrative that always dominates mainstream media reporting following tragedies like the horrendous events last week in Broward County, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 16 students and one football coach dead.
Typical of the narrative is the “‘Thoughts and Prayers’ and Fistfuls of NRA Money: Why America Can’t Control Guns (A Grim Update),” which appeared in the Los Angeles Times. In the column that followed, Michael Hiltzik claimed:
“But it’s the NRA’s campaign spending that almost certainly poses the biggest roadblock to legislation that would stem the tide of gun violence in America. From 2010 through 2018 thus far, the organization donated $111 million to political campaigns of federal candidates.”
The data make clear, however, that the $111 million spent by the NRA in four election cycles (the current cycle is this year’s midterms, which are far from completed) trails far behind the totals spent by each of the four liberal PACs in just one election cycle, in 2016.
Leading the four liberal PACs and ranking first overall among the top-10 2016 spenders was the Priorities USA super PAC founded by Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, former aides to President Barack Obama. The Priorities USA PAC supported Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and spent $133,407,972 in 2016 contributions.
Second in the top 10 was another liberal PAC, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which spent $103,776,930. The DSCC supports Democratic incumbents and challengers for U.S. Senate seats.
Fourth in the top 10 and third among the four biggest-spending liberal PACs was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which backs Democratic incumbents and challengers in the U.S. House of Representatives. The DCCC spent $80,378,315.
Sixth in the top 10 and fourth among the liberal PACs was the Senate Majority PAC, which spent $75,413,426, including nearly $64 million specifically against Republican candidates.
The NRA’s $54.4 million in 2016 campaign donations puts it in the ninth spot among the top 10.
On the lobbying side of groups seeking to influence Washington policy-making, the NRA isn’t among the top 20 spenders, according to opensecrets.org. The top lobbying groups represent business, labor and corporate interests.
As cnbc.com senior columnist Jake Novak wrote shortly after the Florida shootings, “it usually only takes seconds after a mass shooting for a chorus of people to begin blaming the National Rifle Association for allowing these atrocities to happen.
“You know how the argument goes. The ‘conventional wisdom’ is the NRA’s heavy spending stops hundreds of politicians from enacting the “common sense” gun control laws they and everyone else would otherwise support …
“There’s only one problem with that theory. It’s all wrong.”