The National Rifle Association has spent at least $153,813 supporting the campaigns of Republican members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation and donations to the Republican Party of Kentucky since the 2016 election cycle, according to an analysis of federal campaign-finance data by the nonpartisan nonprofit OpenSecrets.
Coming in at No. 1 is Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, with $72,868 in NRA campaign support, according to the analysis. No. 2 is U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, with $27,829.
The NRA has praised McConnell and Barr for supporting the right to carry concealed guns; opposing restrictions on semi-automatic guns and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; and opposing “universal” background checks on gun purchases, among other measures.
The NRA is considered the most powerful opponent of gun control in Washington, spending $65 million through its political action committee to influence federal elections over the last six years.
Apart from giving money to politicians’ campaigns, the NRA also donates to state political parties, such as the Kentucky GOP, and it makes “independent expenditures” in elections, paying for its own advertising to support or oppose candidates. Much of its spending in Kentucky was done through independent expenditures.
Every member of Kentucky’s congressional delegation has received NRA support since the 2016 cycle except for U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, who supports gun control, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg.
Massie is a staunch supporter of gun ownership — his family posed with their guns on last year’s Christmas card — but he has publicly feuded with the NRA over its tentative agreement to a federal review of “bump stocks,” which can be attached to a semi-automatic weapon to make it fire more rapidly. He also disagreed when the NRA backed a bill that would strengthen background checks on people already barred by law from purchasing guns.
Apart from McConnell and Barr, the NRA since 2016 has provided:
▪ $13,548 in campaign support to U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset;
▪ $12,450 to the Republican Party of Kentucky;
▪ $10,268 to U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green;
▪ $9,900 to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.;
▪ $6,950 to U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville.