OFF TARGET: Suit filed against Gun manufacturer Daniel Defense for violating campaign finance law
Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the weapons used in the 2022 Uvalde shootings and the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, has now been accused of violating campaign finance laws after donating $100,000 to Tampa, Florida super PAC Gun Owners Action Fund. The donation took place less than two months after the 2020 election and on the day of the Capitol riot, The Washington Post reported.
An investigation launched by the House Oversight Committee and spearheaded by gun reform advocate Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) after the Uvalde shooting uncovered several donations from the owners of Daniel Defense as shown listed on the federal contracting database, USASpending.gov.
An advertisement posted by Daniel Defense showing a toddler holding a military-assault style rifle prompted Maloney to send a letter to the company saying:
“Your company’s own weapons of war have been repeatedly used to carry out horrific and deadly attacks.”
The Washington Post also reported that the House Oversight Committee is also investigating gun manufacturers Bushmaster, Sig Sauer, and Smith & Wesson, among others.
Federal contractors are prevented from making political donations. At the time that consumer watchdog group Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the FEC, Daniel Dale held federal contracts with the Defense Department, State Department, and Justice Department. The complaint states:
“Daniel Defense, LLC (“Daniel Defense”) is a gun manufacturer that has been awarded more than eleven million dollars in contracts to supply guns and gun accessories to the federal government.1 On January 6, 2021, Daniel Defense made a $100,000 political contribution to Gun Owners Action Fund, a super PAC, while it had multiple open contracts with federal agencies. In doing so, Daniel Defense violated federal campaign finance laws that expressly prohibit federal contractors from making political contributions. Allowing federal contractors like Daniel Defense to make political contributions would risk creating a “pay to play” culture of political corruption, in which companies benefiting from taxpayer-funded federal contracts receive favored treatment in exchange for their political contributions. As such, the federal contractor contribution ban has for decades served as a bulwark against corruption and the appearance of corruption, thus upholding accountability and integrity in the democratic process.”
The legality of the contractor ban was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals and then-lead Justice Merrick Garland in 2015. Gun Owners of America invested heavily in the failed races of former Georgia GOP Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. According to the PAC’s treasurer Nancy Watkins, Daniel Defense requested a refund of the six-figure donation in May.
In wake of the increase in gun violence — an increase that many deem preventable — the call for common-sense gun legislation has gotten louder. While the Senate has announced a bipartisan “agreement” on a highly compromised version of gun control legislation that will allow the process to move forward – many believe it doesn’t go far enough.
Hopefully, politics will finally be put to the side, with gun manufacturers a step closer to being held to account, and the GOP no longer able to shield themselves behind the skirts and wallets of the gun lobby. Change can’t come soon enough.
Original reporting by Isaac Stanley-Becker at The Washington Post.
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