From Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, you can drive a narrow, two-lane road to Washington Avenue, cross the highway, and arrive about five minutes later at the headquarters of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the nation’s “other” gun lobby. You’ve likely never heard of the NSSF—they’ve kept a lower public profile than the National Rifle Association, but they’ve been quietly shaping American gun culture for more than half a century. Now, they’ve begun to play a much more influential role in politics.
Every year from 1998 through 2010, the NRA spent at least ten times more than the NSSF on direct lobbying. Today those numbers are converging—the NRA has spent $1.7 million so far in 2013, compared to $1.1 million spent by the NSSF, mostly in efforts to loosen state requirements for concealed carry permits. The NRA still boasts the political muscle to sway the outcome of major legislation, but the big gun lobby’s intervention is conspicuous and subject to ridicule, and an NRA campaign contribution can sometimes become a political liability—in a 2013 PPP poll, 39% of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate backed by the NRA, whereas only 26% said they’d be more likely to. This April, when Senator Mitch McConnell (the NRA’s single biggest recipient of campaign contributions) used procedural tactics to block an expanded background check bill, NRA Board member Adolphous Busch publicly resigned from the organization, saying the group “clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of [its] 4 million individual members.”
Read more. [Image: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/Reuters]
Men outnumber women on K Street, but female lobbyists tend to bring in bigger contracts than their male counterparts.
In the face of budget cuts, the Pentagon prepared to cancel some projects, including the RQ-4B Block 30 drone. It told Congress the drone was too costly and problematic. Then the company behind the drone talked to Congress.
Read more. [Image: Chris Kaufman/Associated Press]
Companies and organizations can donate an unlimited amount of money to honor officials, sponsor their conferences, and donate to their pet charities, so long as these donations are reported to the Senate. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed these filings from 2009 and 2010 and found about $50 million in honorary gifts and meeting costs. These donations can all be viewed in the interactive display below by company making the donation or by official being honored.