When Senator Dianne Feinstein recently spoke to a San Francisco crowd, she accused the “gun lobby” of being responsible for stripping her gun ban from pending gun-control legislation:
The National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers are to blame for the “disconnect” between the broad public support for gun control and the reluctance in Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday.
Feinstein claimed the “NRA has intimidated senators with threats that the gun lobby would spend heavily to unseat them if they support” her gun ban. She summarized:
A fear has set in that if they vote for the bill they won’t be re-elected. It’s that plain, it’s that simple.
Once again, pro-gun control advocates claim “money equals influence” and is the only reason their proposals aren’t enacted.
Do recent campaign-finance disclosures support her claim?
Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum spent $382,600 on federal campaigns during the 2012 election cycle, including $5,000 for Barack Obama and $11,000 for congressional candidates. He gave $61,600 to the Democratic Senatorial Committee, and $300,000 to Majority PAC. Five other Blum Capital employees contributed $7,650, including $5,900 to Dianne Feinstein.
Open Secrets calls Majority PAC’s viewpoint “liberal.” It spent over $38 million during the 2012 election cycle: $3.6M for Democratic candidates, and $34.5M against Republican candidates. Blum also has benefited financially from his wife’s actions in the Senate:
On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.
Mrs. Feinstein’s intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn’t a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments — not direct federal dollars.
Blum spent $32,800 during the 2008 election cycle and another $50,500 in 2010, around the time the FDIC contract was in negotiation.
Feinstein didn’t complain about Blum’s money influencing the outcome, despite her supposedly being concerned that political spending creates undue influence in Washington.
Forbes currently lists New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the 13th richest billionaire in the world, with a net worth of $27B. Bloomberg, co-chair of pro-gun control organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, spent $13.7M during the 2012 election cycle, including the entire $10M collected by the Independence USA PAC, which Open Secrets calls “liberal.”
Bloomberg, via Independence USA, spent $2.3M trying to replace NRA “A”-graded Daniel Webster (FL-10) with an “F”-graded challenger, and spent $3.3M trying to replace Joe Baca (CA-35, NRA grade “B+”) with an NRA “D”-graded challenger. Another half-million went to replacing “A”-graded Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-24) with “F”-graded Dan Maffei.
Bloomberg recently spent another $12M on a multi-state advertising campaign, attempting to influence representatives to vote for pending federal gun-control legislation. But while promoting greater restrictions for the average American, Bloomberg’s police guards received “special permission” to carry guns while in relatively gun-free Bermuda:
The mayor also takes along a police detail when he travels … the city pays their wages while they are there, as it does whether Mr. Bloomberg is New York or not. Guns are largely forbidden in Bermuda — even most police officers do not use them — but the mayor’s guards have special permission to carry weapons.
Feinstein hasn’t expressed concern over Bloomberg using his wealth to influence local elections or federal legislation.