General contributions to the National Rifle Association are finding their way into the account of the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the NRA's political action committee. Eexperts on federal election law tell Yahoo News they are all illegal. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and a legion of state and federal antifraud statutes are designed to protect the public from phony charities and false or misleading solicitations. The FECA makes a hard distinction between solicitations for elections and other solicitations, in part because many Americans don't like donating to politicians.
An NRA member might contribute to the organization because she admires its work on behalf of hunters. She might also contribute to an environmental group because she wants to preserve forests. But this same donor may vehemently oppose the candidates endorsed in federal elections by both the NRA and the environmental group. As a result, the law makes it clear that when these groups are soliciting for electoral purposes they must disclose that fact to potential donors. “There are at least three clear violations” of federal law, says Brett Kappel, an expert on political law and campaign finance at the law firm Akerman LLP. “First of all, they can't be soliciting from the general public at their website. Then there's the fact that the money is not being solicited in the name of the PAC; they have to say it's for the PAC and what the political purpose of the PAC is. And then there are multiple missing disclaimers such as the disclaimer saying that contributions have to be voluntary.”