Smile Politely

After the rain comes a campaign contribution: Rodney Davis and the NRA


Yet again, the nation is reeling from another mass shooting. Yet again, parents sent their kids off to school with the expectation that they’d be coming home, only to have their children taken from them by a white guy wielding a legally purchased semi-automatic weapon. As depressingly routine as these shootings have become, so too have the automatic responses from feckless cowards like Rodney Davis. “Thoughts and prayers” is the standard response, though Congressman Davis routinely throws in the paternalistic “we shouldn’t politicize these tragedies” or “it’s not the right time to talk about this” lines as well.

wrote at length about the absolute disgust I have for these sorts of statements (and the lack of action that follows them) after Davis responded almost identically to the Vegas shooting, and not much has changed in terms of my feelings towards his sanctimonious bullshit. 

As I covered in that article, the influence the NRA has on the Republican party is well-established. The relationship between the GOP and the NRA is (and has been for some time) toxic. The reason we can’t move the needle on common-sense legislation to prevent gun violence is that politicians like Rodney Davis are completely beholden to this powerful special interest. Their money and endorsements are highly-sought after commodities for folks like Rep. Davis who, above all else, are desperate to remain in office. For the longest time, that relationship has seemed unassailable. However, things seem to be changing. 

At the CNN town-hall, the Parkland community gave a standing ovation to the young man who asked Senator Rubio if he would reject NRA contributions to his future campaigns. The response to that question, in that community, on that stage, seems to signal a turning point in this debate. 

An “A” rating from the NRA is becoming less of a badge of honor and more of a scarlet letter. New findings by fellow SP writer and local activist Megan Kuhlenschmidt are unlikely to reverse that trend for Congressman Davis. In her research, she has uncovered a disturbing and consistent pattern in the financial support Rep. Davis receives from the NRA. Here are a few of the most egregious examples

Just one day after a shooter entered a Sikh temple and killed 7 people in a racially motivated hate-crime, and 3 weeks after the Aurora shooting in which 12 innocent people were killed, Rodney Davis cashed a $1,000 check from the NRA.  Just a month later, he cashed another one for $3,950

2 months after the San Bernardino shooting in which 14 people were killed at an office party, Rep. Davis pocketed $1,500 from the NRA. A day after that, 6 people died in a mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Just a week after a white supremacist killed 9 people at a church in Charleston, SC, Rodney Davis received another $1,000 check from the NRA. A week later, 5 people died when a gunman opened fire at a military recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

12 days after 58 concert-goers died in Las Vegas, Congressman Davis happily accepted another $1,000 from the NRA. Less than a month after that, 26 churchgoers were murdered in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

Imagine what that must feel like for the families and the communities that were torn apart by these shootings. What must it feel like to know that one of the people responsible for stonewalling any legislative efforts to prevent these tragedies appears to be profiting from them? Imagine how betrayed you would feel. Imagine if it were OUR community. Imagine if it were YOUR kids.

Even if we give Rep. Davis the benefit of the doubt in regards to these donations, it’s impossible to overstate how bad this looks. Now, I know that saying this would likely cause Davis to clutch his pearls and launch into a “vitriolic rhetoric” lecture, but barring further explanation/information, we can really only draw one of two conclusions. At best, accepting these donations so shortly after these events is incredibly callous and disrespectful. At worst, this is literal blood money. 

You never know though. Maybe it is just a coincidence. Maybe the apathy Rep. Davis shows towards those begging and pleading with him to do something, anything, to prevent these tragedies isn’t influenced by the role the NRA plays/has played in keeping him in office. Maybe Rep. Davis’ ignorance of the efficacy of firearm legislation is genuine and not motivated by partisanship. Maybe Rep. Davis hasn’t seen the polls that show pluralities of American support a broad number of legislative changes to our gun laws. I highly doubt it, but maybe that’s the case.

Unless Rep. Davis commits to returning these donations and rejecting all future contributions it’s impossible to know, and barring any substantive changes to his relationship with the NRA or his position on gun violence prevention legislation, it’s perfectly fair to wonder how long after this latest tragedy he’ll wait to cash another check. 

For Rodney Davis, it appears that now is never right the time to talk about gun violence, but it’s always the right time to make money off of it.

All research obtained using open-access FEC data.

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