The NRA and Alleged Russian Operative Maria Butina

The NRA has been in the news repeatedly in connection with the Mueller probe of U.S. ties to Russian operatives. Back in April, Rolling Stone published a lengthy article by Tim Dickinson which detailed the efforts of Russian nationals connected to Vladimir Putin to infiltrate the NRA under the guise of supporting gun rights in Russia. A key event reported in that article was a trip to Russia arranged for NRA executives and donors and accompanied by Maria Butina, recently indicted by the Justice department for conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent.  From Tim Dickinson’s Twitter feed, here is photo of Butina and two NRA leaders in Moscow.

Read the affidavit and the complaint.

To read Tim Dickinson’s Twitter thread on Butina’s Republican contacts, click here.

Maria Butina Got Around

According to the indictment documents, Butina cultivated relationships within Republican party, the NRA, the National Prayer Breakfast, and other Christian right circles (including Eric Metaxas) in order to further the political ends of the Russian government.

In April, the NRA admitted receiving donations from Russians but denied any foreign money went to election ads for Trump. Butina’s indictment has raised new suspicions about why the NRA developed such a friendly relationship with an adversary of the U.S. And then just today, a new filing in federal court alleges that Butina was in a cohabitation relationship with Republican operative with close ties to the NRA (identified by the Rolling Stone and other news outlets as possibly Paul Erickson) as a part of her cover.

President Trump has denied any collusion with the Russian government. However, this indictment and others recently filed paint a picture of relentless activity on the part of the Russian government to infiltrate organizations friendly to Trump and his wing of the Republican party.

I have leaned conservative all my life and I can’t imagine trusting Russians who want to get this close to political power in the U.S. Once upon a time, it was progressives who were accused of being duped by the Russians. Now it appears that Trump Republicans have a special gullibility.

Read Today’s Filing Asking the Court to Prevent Butina’s Flight

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UPDATE (8/1/18) – An earlier version of this article referred to a possible connection to BN Media and Joe Gregory. I learned today from Joe Gregory’s attorney that Gregory sold his interest in BN Media in 2013 and therefore has no involvement with BN Media. I regret the misinformation and apologize to Mr. Gregory for any problem this may have caused. I have corrected this post to reflect this new information.

Dear Patheos: Which Topic Was the Last Straw?

I appreciate the support I am getting from readers today via email and social media. Twitter support has been especially strong with numerous readers asking Patheos.com why my blog was live one day and gone the next.

Thus far, no additional specific information has come to light. According to the information I received Monday from Patheos COO Jeremy McGee, my blog did not fit Patheos “strategic objectives.” Assuming that the diverse blogs remaining do fit the strategy, I am puzzled about what those objectives are.

Being a curious sort, I got to wondering what clues I might find by looking at my recent posts. Over the past two weeks, I posted the following articles at Patheos.

So which of those posts might have crossed a line?

Much of the interest on social media has focused on the fact that Mark Driscoll and Gospel for Asia CEO K.P. Yohannan are blogging at Patheos now while I am not. Apparently, the strategic objectives of Patheos include those fellows.

Ponder that.

UPDATE (8/1/18) – An earlier version of this article referred to a possible connection to BN Media and Joe Gregory. I learned today from Joe Gregory’s attorney that Gregory sold his interest in BN Media in 2013 and therefore has no involvement with BN Media. I regret the misinformation and apologize to Mr. Gregory for any problem this may have caused. I have corrected this post to reflect this new information.

No, the NRA Didn't Help Protect Former Slaves from the Democrats

During the just completed 2018 convention, the National Rifle Association helped spread some false history using Trump supporters Diamond & Silk. Watch:


This claim about the NRA has been debunked several times. The NRA was founded by two Union military veterans to help improve marksmanship. There isn’t any evidence that the NRA assisted post-Civil War freed slaves against the KKK or Democrats or any white aggression. Supporters of the NRA offer this claim without any historical evidence.
At the time, the Democrat party was the party of Jim Crow. However, the NRA claim appears to be made up out of thin air. To fact check the claim, I reviewed the founding documents of the NRA, the biographies of the founders, and historical descriptions of the organization, especially in the South. According to the NRA’s founding document, the aims of the association related to rifle practice:

AIMS OF THE ASSOCIATION
The main aim of the Association is the encouragement of rifle practice throughout this State and the United States.
They also desire to promote the establishment of ranges throughout the State, and the issue of ammunition, target, and other appurtenances required for their use with offering of prizes both by the State, and by individuals, to the best marksmen. They also seek to build up local of a similar character to their own, which while under official supervision to ensure then proper, yet will be so popular in their character as to secure success.

Over the years, I have asked those who say the NRA was founded to help protect former slaves (e.g., David Barton) for supporting evidence. I have yet to seen anything remotely relevant to the claim.
This is the first time I have seen the claim from the NRA and they should provide evidence or retract it immediately.