A Gun Rights Activist Filed SCOTUS Briefs, the NRA Hid That They Paid Him to Do It

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Recently hacked documents reveal that the NRA Foundation paid attorney and Second Amendment activist David Kopel in 2019 to write two favorable briefs backing an NRA affiliate in cases before the court, including one involving New York’s gun licensing requirements, buttressing its affiliate’s arguments and concealing the effort from judges and the public, reports The Trace. Attorneys who author these briefs must disclose whether they’ve taken money from either side to deliver a filing, but transparency advocates say that the rule is narrowly written and it’s nearly impossible to link money flow to a particular brief, despite growing recognition that interest groups are covertly lobbing a barrage of amicus filings at the Supreme Court.

A suspected Russian cybercrime crew that security researchers believe is an offshoot of a ransomware gang called Evil Corp is behind the NRA hack. The handful of hacked documents included what appears to be a grant application that Kopel made to the NRA Foundation in late 2019 for the 2020/2021 fiscal year. The request was for $267,000, with $248,500 earmarked for Kopel’s salary and benefits. The remainder covered books, travel, and additional expenses. In July, Kopel was among three attorneys who filed a brief supporting the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, an NRA affiliate association. In the portion of the brief reserved for disclosure, it states that only the entities making the filing funded its “preparation or submission.” if the NRA paid Kopel to write amicus briefs, as the hacked grant application suggests, he should have made that disclosure. The federal Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure is examining the issue.

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