The National Rifle Association (NRA) has seen a drastic fall in the number of donations made to its political action committee, according to a new report.
Ahead of November’s midterm elections, donations to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund dropped more than 40 percent from the 2020 election and plummeted 45 percent from the 2018 midterms. Analyzing data from the Federal Election Commission, The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering gun violence, found that only 5,300 NRA members gave to the PAC last year.
Although the total number of members is unclear, the NRA touts that it has 5 million members—a statistic the association has cited since 2013. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said membership was at 4.3 million during January’s board meeting, while some analysts put the total closer to 3 million. Either way, it still suggests that less than 2 percent of the NRA’s members donated to its PAC in 2022.
Former NRA board member Rocky Marshall told Newsweek that the decline is significant given that it comes at a time when the organization should be benefiting from having a Democratic president in the White House who is eager to enact stricter gun laws. He said the plummeting figures not only speak to the NRA’s finances but its political influence.
“Revenues are falling at an increasing rate at a time when typically donations would increase due to the adversarial 2A [Second Amendment] position of the President of the United States,” Marshall said. “The NRA’s declining financial position has radically reduced the political influence that the NRA once held. The NRA is a fading shadow of its once highly effective role in the political landscape.”
Last year was also the first time in at least a decade that the Political Victory Fund—which accepts donations only from the NRA’s members—failed to raise more than the prior federal election year. Although the analysis covered the PAC only up to November 28—meaning there might still be some donations to be added to the annual total—the PAC collected only $1.4 million in 2022, compared to the nearly $2.6 million in 2020 and 2018.
Marshall said it’s not only the PAC that’s seen a dip in revenue. Membership dues have fallen from $170 million in 2017 to $110 million in 2022, a 35 percent decline. total revenues have fallen from $366.9 million in 2016 to $205 million in 2022, according to Marshall.
NRA board member Phil Journey, who has been critical of NRA leadership, told the Trace that a number of members have become disillusioned by the scandals surrounding those at the top like LaPierre, who has been accused of diverting the organization’s charitable dollars for personal use, including tens of thousands of dollars for private jet flight and other travel expenses for his family.
“I can’t tell you how often I speak to members who say, ‘I am not giving another dime until Wayne is gone,'” Journey said.
In 2020, New York State Attorney General Letitia James brought a civil lawsuit that brought the accusations about LaPierre into the public spotlight and is in the process of seeking to dissolve the NRA.
In a Tuesday press release, Marshall said that he has researched all of the complaints made in James’ lawsuit “and found all charges to be true. I could not identify a single charge that was untrue or exaggerated.”
Citing the NRA’s financial troubles and the legal woes facing LaPierre and other key management personnel, Marshall predicts that the number of members withholding donations will continue to grow.
“The NRA has been thriving for over 150 years but will likely not survive to the end of this year,” he said.
Newsweek reached out to the NRA for comment.
Update 1/25/23, 3:53 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from Marshall.