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Reality Check: Wis. congressional delegation gets NRA money

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:16:17 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 17 2013 07:21:00 PM CST

With the president now pushing for a number of changes to gun laws in the country, the National Rifle Association is fighting back.

The NRA is consistently considered one of the heaviest hitters in Washington, raking in the top 20 by money-tracking groups on political spending. So how is the NRA connected to Wisconsin's members of Congress?

WISC-TV found that in the past four years, seven members of the state's congressional delegation have received direct contributions from the NRA.

Janesville Republican Paul Ryan ranks at the top with $7,000 in donations, but La Crosse Democrat Ron Kind isn't far behind with $6,950.

Waukesha Republican Jim Sensenbrenner is next at $6,000, and Oshkosh Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has $5,950.

U.S. Reps. Reid Ribble, Tom Petri and Sean Duffy round out the list, receiving between $3,000 and $5,000.

But the money train doesn't stop there. The NRA also spends money to either get members elected or make sure they don't.

In 2010, the NRA spent $1.2 million to get Johnson elected to the Senate. For the 2012 election, the NRA spent $652,056 against Tammy Baldwin in her Senate bid and more than $70,000 each helping Duffy and Ribble.

Sensenbrenner and Petri were in Congress when the 1994 assault weapons ban was passed, and they both voted against it. Four separate times there have been bills to reauthorize the ban, but they all failed in committee. In 2003, Kind was a co-sponsor but pulled off the bill within a week. No Wisconsin members signed on to the bills in 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2007.

The NRA also gives a ranking to members of Congress based on its analysis of voting records, public statements and a questionnaire.

Six Wisconsin Republicans and one Democrat get an A ranking from the NRA, including Johnson, Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Robble and Kind. Three Democrats -- Baldwin, Rep. Mark Pocan and Rep. Gwen Moore -- get a "failing" rating from the NRA.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a total of 252 members of Congress received donations from the NRA in 2012. The NRA spent nearly $19 million nationwide on the 2012 elections, in which more than half of the candidates it supported won.

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