FACT CHECK: Toomey Says The NRA Hasn’t ‘Given Me A Dime Since 2010’
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said that he has not received any money from the NRA since 2010 during an interview on Fox News Thursday.
The NRA has not donated to Toomey or independently campaigned on his behalf since he was first elected to the Senate in 2010. Toomey’s NRA rating fell from an “A” to a “C” after he pushed to expand background checks on gun sales.
President Donald Trump accused Toomey of being “afraid” of the NRA during a meeting with members of Congress about gun control Wednesday. Trump wanted to know why Toomey’s proposed gun control legislation doesn’t include raising the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21.
Toomey pushed back on Trump’s characterization on Fox News. “I’m the guy that wrote the bill that the NRA opposed,” Toomey said. “The Manchin-Toomey legislation was strongly opposed by the NRA. They didn’t endorse me in my re-election. They haven’t given me a dime since 2010. I’m the guy that’s stood up to the NRA among Republicans.”
Federal Elections Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) shows that Toomey’s campaign committee last received a direct contribution from the NRA’s political action committee (PAC) in 2010. CRP’s data on Open Secrets also shows that the NRA has not spent money to independently campaign in support of Toomey or against his opponent since the 2010 election cycle.
The NRA used to support Toomey. He earned an “A” rating from the organization during his 2010 Senate campaign because of his voting record while serving in the House of Representatives.
Toomey’s campaign received a $4,950 direct contribution from the NRA’s PAC in 2010. During that cycle, the NRA also spent $882,034 on independent operations in support of Toomey (such as advertisements, printed literature and phone banks) and $558,502 on operations against his opponent, Democrat Joe Sestak. The Toomey race was one of the NRA’s largest campaign investments that year.
But Toomey lost favor with the NRA when he sponsored a gun control amendment in 2013 with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia following the Sandy Hook massacre. The measure would have expanded background checks to gun shows and online sales and encouraged states to provide records to the National Instant Background Check System.
“Law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to own and use guns, and I will always defend that right. I am a gun owner and I take my son shooting, but I also believe that a three-minute background check to prevent a gun purchase by someone who has forfeited his right to a gun is common sense and does not violate anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” Toomey wrote in a 2016 op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The NRA opposed the amendment and lowered Toomey’s grade to a “C” during his re-election campaign in 2016. Only two other Republican senators, Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. John McCain, have lower than an “A-” grade from the NRA.
Though Toomey no longer receives support from the NRA, he did receive $5,000 in contributions from the pro-hunter rights Safari Club International (SCI) and Dallas Safari Club PACs during the 2016 cycle. No other gun rights groups contributed to Toomey’s re-election campaign.
CRP asserts on Open Secrets that Toomey received $79,908 in pro-gun rights money during the 2016 cycle. But that number doesn’t just count contributions from pro-gun rights groups like the NRA or the SCI – the overwhelming majority of that $79,908 is from individuals who CRP classifies as pro-gun rights based on other donations they have made.
If someone donates to a pro-gun rights group like the NRA and also donates to a candidate the group has supported at some point, CRP decides that the donation made to the candidate is motivated by gun rights. Even though the NRA didn’t support Toomey in 2016, CRP classified some individual contributions as gun rights money because the NRA has given to Toomey in the past.
According to CRP data provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation by Toomey’s office, $74,908 of the $79,908 came from individuals, not gun rights organizations.
“Our process with ideological coding was developed as a way to gauge donor motivations beyond the economic and professional interests that they might have,” Alex Baumgart, individual contributions researcher at CRP, told TheDCNF in an email.
While the Manchin-Toomey background check proposal failed in 2013, the senators are pushing the proposal again in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“Senator Toomey has demonstrated that he is not afraid of the NRA or any other special interest group,” Toomey’s press secretary told Politico in a statement.
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