WA Gambling Commission Playing Politics with NRA Foundation Fundraising?

One Washington State fundraising effort for the NRA Foundation is the annual “Elmer Keith Memorial Long Range Handgun shoot” held near Spokane. Author Dave Workman, shown here, is sometimes a participant.

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- The Washington State Gambling Commission voted unanimously to delay a decision on whether to allow the National Rifle Association Foundation to raise more money in the Evergreen State than allowed by law, but news coverage of the decision suggests the commission may have been at least partly guided by politics.

As noted by the Seattle Times, “But with questions and investigations swirling around the NRA’s use of money, along with a continuing stream of deadly shootings around the nation, the…Commission has voted to delay a decision on lifting the cap for the coming year.”

And Northwest News Network reported that Commissioner Julia Patterson stated during the discussion, “I don’t want to in any way enable the NRA’s political activities.”

The NRA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Money raised by the foundation is used to support such endeavors as firearms safety training programs, the NRA’s “Refuse to be A Victim” program and the famous Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for children.

While the NRA Foundation is largely funded with proceeds from banquets and raffles, other programs such as the annual “Elmer Keith Memorial Long Range Handgun Shoot” held annually near Spokane also provide revenue.

The Foundation conducts raffles at fund raising banquets and at the monthly Washington Arms Collectors gun show, according to WAC Past President Boyd Kneeland. Prizes in those raffles include firearms, which invariably are legally transferred via a federally licensed firearms dealer.

The Times story noted, “In recent years, Washington state regulators have lifted a cap to allow the National Rifle Association Foundation to raise more money than law allows through fundraising raffles…” For the coming year, NRA would like the commission to raise the cap to $500,000. By law, the newspaper reported, the cap in Washington is $300,000.

That story also acknowledged that, “A representative for the commission’s regulatory unit said during the (commission’s recent) meeting that the NRA Foundation’s application appeared to meet the criteria necessary to get its cap increased. That criteria includes details about the planned raffles and an overview of the programs supported by the proceeds.”

But something a senior policy advisor to Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, currently running near last place in the race to secure his party’s 2020 presidential nomination, reportedly said suggests anti-gun politics may be in play.

“I think it’s really incumbent upon the commission to ensure that before there is any decision to put more guns and more firearms out there in the public, that you have an assurance that they are meeting the letter of the law and state regulation,” said Inslee policy advisor Shari Sawyer.

Inslee, like other Democrats in the primary race, has proposed a series of gun controls in the aftermath of the shooting incidents in Ohio, Texas and California. He has made public statements about having the NRA “on the run in Washington State.”

Perhaps ironically, two Washington State-based gun rights organizations—the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms—could benefit from the adverse attention Inslee and other anti-gun Democrats are devoting to the NRA.

SAF and NRA are presently challenging provisions of a gun control measure, Initiative 1639, that was passed by Washington voters last November. It raised the minimum age for purchasing a semi-auto rifle to 21 years, and also invented a definition for a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that literally applies to every self-loading rifle ever manufactured.

While SAF’s activities are confined to education and litigation, CCRKBA is an activist organization that works with other groups at the grassroots level.

The Northwest News Network reported that Tallman Trask, policy and advocacy director for the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a billionaire-backed gun control lobbying group, said after the decision that the commission took the proper action.

“The Gambling Commission was right to have delayed action until they are confident the money is being used appropriately, particularly given ongoing investigations Trask reportedly stated.

Ammoland News checked with NRA’s Lars Delseide, who confirmed that the foundation supports a variety of projects including support for Boy Scouts, school rifle teams and even law enforcement. He likened the foundation to other recognized charities, such as Toys for Tots or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Delseide said the NRA Foundation has provided some $4 million to support various projects in Washington State.

The NRA is being investigated by the New York State attorney general’s office to determine whether the organization has violated any laws in violation of its “nonprofit status.” The organization is also mired in what appears to be internal strife, with at least four directors stepping down from the Board of Directors, including champion shooter and author Julie Golob. Three other directors— Sean Maloney of Ohio, Esther Schneider from Texas and Timothy Knight of Tennessee—had earlier resigned.

“This was not a decision I made lightly,” Golob said in a statement appearing on Facebook. “I apologize to those members who have supported me that I will not be completing the full 3-year term. I also feel this is the best decision for me and my family.”

About Dave WorkmanDave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.