In Texas, Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn became the Congress’ top recipients of contributions from pro-gun donors, according to campaign finance records. The two represent the state that recently had a mass school shooting.
Out of the two, it was Cruz who received the most money from pro-gun individiuals and groups out of the others in the current congress. He amassed $442,000 throughout his career, as noted by nonpartisan campaign finance research group OpenSecrets. In contrast, Cornyn, who ranks third in the current U.S. senators and representatives, received a total of $340,000.
Direct contributions from pro-gun individuals and political action committees are limited to a relatively small amount each election cycle compared to the millions that super PACs and other unlimited-spending outside groups are allowed in support of candidates independent of coordination with their campaigns.
Regardless, direct contributions are an effective illustration of a candidate’s level of support from gun-rights advocates.
“Throughout his career, Sen. Cruz has passionately fought to protect families from criminals and defend Texans’ constitutional rights,” Steve Guest, spokesperson for Cruz, told ABC News.
At the state level, the NRA and NRA Victory fund have spent a total of $575,000 in local Texas elections for seven consecutive years both in direct contributions to campaigns and independent ad spending in support of candidates, as revealed from an analysis of state campaign disclosure reports by Transparency USA, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks state-level political disclosures.
Campaign disclosure reports also show that executives of Daniel Defense, the maker of the assault weapon that the gunman used in the school shooting, have been major Republican donors over the last few years.
Between 2016 and 2020, Daniel Defense president and CEO, Marvin Daniel, and his wife and COO, Cindy Daniel, gave a total of $300,000 to Trump Victory and hundreds of thousands of dollars more to other Republican campaigns and committees. The two also regularly donate to the National Shooting Sports Foundation PAC, giving a total of $20,000 so far in this year’s election cycle.
Early last year, the company also donated to the Gun Owners Action Fund super PAC. However, treasurer Nancy Watkins revealed that the PAC refunded the contribution “at the request of the donor” last month. The refund will be disclosed in next month’s quarterly disclosure report to the Federal Election Commission.
Watkins did not disclose the reason for the refund more than a year after it was made, but since the Georgia runoffs, the group has largely been dormant.
The Gun Owners Action Fund also received donations from other manufacturers, including $100,000 from Sig Sauer in December 2020, which would be refunded in April following watchdog group Campaign Legal Center’s complaint alleging it violated campaign finance laws that prohibit federal contractors from making federal political contributions.
The emergence of new pro-gun PACs comes as the National Rifle Association has been the subject of legal battles and threats of bankruptcy.