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Law Enforcement Alliance of America, NRA front group
A front group has received at least $8 million from the National Rifle Association, the gun industry's mouthpiece, and has worked to undermine sensible gun-control legislation for more than 20 years, according to the Center for American Progress. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America, which claims to represent the interests of the "average cop," spends much of its money "electing judges and state attorneys general who are tough on crime—unless those crimes involve violations of gun control laws," writes Billy Corriher.
[LEAA] was founded with funding from the NRA in 1991, while Congress was debating the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Police associations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police had come out strongly in favor of the Brady Act, and relations with the NRA were strained after the NRA opposed a 1986 bill to ban “cop killer” bullets that can pierce body armor. So the NRA founded the Law Enforcement Alliance of America and claimed that it represented the “average cop”—who supposedly opposed gun control.

Because the Law Enforcement Alliance of America refuses to disclose the sources of its funding, it is difficult to discern how much money the NRA has given the organization. The NRA’s tax documents, however, reveal that it gave at least $2 million to the alliance between 2004 and 2010. Previous reports indicate that the NRA donated $500,000 annually to the organization from 1995 to 2004, which would total more than $6 million.

The LEAA's website contains little real information about the organization, whose president is James A. Fotis, a 66-year-old Virginian.

Much of that money and funding from other sources have wound up backing political candidates for judgeships and attorneys general. The LEAA is organized as a nonprofit and doesn't by law have to make public its funding sources. Said Robert Spitzer, who has written The Politics of Gun Control and three other books on the subject: “People pay less attention to state politics than they to do national politics or local politics. That’s been fertile ground for the NRA.” Continue reading below the fold to see how LEAA has operated.

The LEAA has:

• opposed background checks and efforts to keep guns out of the hands of people on the Terrorist Watchlist.

• switched to electing state judges and attorneys general after losing some lawsuits early on. In Mississippi, it spent millions on ads to elect three judges and half a million in 2012 alone to elect a judge to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

• selected candidates for judges, prosecutors and attorneys general who it knew would support broader gun rights and reduce the rights of criminal defendants

• apparently received money from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce so the business lobby could steathily back candidates in some races

• funded numerous rancid attack ads against candidates it opposed, including Justice Oliver Diaz in a 2008 contest for the Mississippi Supreme Court. Incumbent Diaz was defeated by Justice Randy “Bubba” Pierce, who received $660,000 from LEAA. One of the ads called him a "rapist" and a "baby-killer" for his dissents in a case in which the majority refused to allow a DNA test of a defendant and one in which he sought a stay of execution until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

• funded attack ads in 2001 that helped Republicans take over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The controversial attack ads in Pennsylvania came just months after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nafis Jefferson, a 7-year-old child killed after another child found a gun and fired it at his head. The victim’s family sued the Philadelphia gun store which had sold “at least ten guns” to an illegal gun trafficker who resold them to “convicted criminals, drug users and dealers”—who could not purchase guns legally or wanted to “avoid a paper trail.” The suit was settled a few years later, after the alliance helped to elect Justice Eakin—therefore securing a Republican majority—to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Damage caused by NRA lobbying and the organization's direct and indirect support for candidates is not limited to the realm of guns. The organization has weighed in from a right-wing perspective on health care, campaign finance, credit-card regulations, immigration and Supreme Court nominees. Its efforts to get LEAA started and its continued financing of the organization has an impact that goes well beyond what the memberships of both organizations signed up for.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 09:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), and Daily Kos.

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