Country club life in Congress joins elected officials with the NRA

On a Monday evening in early February, two months into a national debate over gun violence after the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, representatives of the firearms industry were wining and dining lawmakers in Washington.

The occasion was the “Changing of the Guard” reception and dinner for the incoming leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which counts more than 250 members in the House and Senate. Hosting the gathering was a little-known but well-connected organization, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

Despite its low profile, the foundation has close ties to members of Congress, allowing its donors, who give as much as $100,000 a year, to mix with lawmakers at shooting contests, banquets and wine tastings. The food and drink at last month’s gathering were paid for in part by the National Rifle Association and the trade group for the gun industry.

Over the past year, sportsmen’s caucus members have clinked glasses and puffed cigars at a “Wine, Wheels and Wildlife” fund-raiser at a North Carolina vineyard, a “Whiskies of the World” and cigar reception on Capitol Hill, and a “Stars and Stripes Shootout” in Tampa, Fla., where the top shooting awards went to a Republican congressman and a lobbyist for the N.R.A. Such events provide the firearms industry and other foundation donors with a tax-deductible means of lobbying the elected officials who shape policies important to their businesses…

The foundation says its positions fit naturally with its mission “to work with Congress, governors and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, recreational angling, and shooting and trapping…”

Others see the linkage to hunting as part of a calculated effort by the firearms industry to advance policies that have little to do with outdoor sports…“They see this as if they give in on any one item, it will put them on a slippery slope to coming into your home and taking your guns away,” Representative Bill Pascrell Jr said. “They’re creating hysteria.”

Contributions ballooned from $434,000 in 2001 to more than $2 million in 2011, with its top-tier donors including firearms makers and retailers like Remington, Winchester and Walmart. Other high-level donors include the N.R.A., outdoor groups like Safari Club International, and ExxonMobil, Amgen and Altria.

The foundation is blunt in its appeal to donors. Its Web site says that “no organization has access to so many elected officials,” adding that “we know how important it is to have an effective voice in the political arena looking out for your interests.”

Our promise to you is to keep delivering big returns on your investment,” the foundation said in a message to donors.

RTFA for details, the crappola you already can guess. Laws are bent and reshaped to provide cover for the buying and selling of politicians. Lies like the NRA casting itself as a voice for hunters and sports shooters – which hasn’t been true for decades.

The corruption which defines the heart of political office inside the Washington Beltway is alive and well. Even if your own lifestyle is still in decline.

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