Gun-Control Group Behind $4 Million Election Push Takes Coronavirus Relief

Brady Center received up to $1 million

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July 10, 2020

One of the country's leading gun-control groups took a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan worth up to $1 million even as its PAC pledged to spend millions in the 2020 elections.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence received between $350,000 and $1 million on April 10 to support 41 employees, according to the Small Business Administration. The center is the educational arm of the Brady organization, which also features a political advocacy arm, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, as well as the political action committee Brady PAC. In March, the Brady PAC endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and announced it would spend $4 million to help elect him and other gun-control candidates to office.

Liam Sullivan, a spokesman for the Brady Center, defended the loans, saying that the pandemic had affected the organization's funding and caused it to cancel major fundraising events, including its annual gala.

"Like other nonprofits, the Brady Center is funded by giving and fundraising events, both of which obviously have been impacted and will be impacted for the foreseeable future," he said. "We just applied and were approved, obviously, under the same sort of criteria as others with concerns for payroll."

Sullivan also emphasized that the Brady Center and Brady PAC are legally separate groups and the Brady Center is not involved in election spending. It is, however, common for money to be moved between aligned organizations like the Brady Center, Campaign, and PAC. Federal records show the Brady PAC paid the Brady Campaign more than $50,000 for use of its staff and travel reimbursements in April, and the Brady Center reported owing the Brady Campaign more than $1.1 million in 2015.

The SBA documents also show that other major gun-control advocates have benefited from the PPP program, which was designed to help small businesses stay afloat during coronavirus shutdowns. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the educational arm of Giffords, accepted a loan worth between $150,000 and $350,000 on April 28 in order to meet payroll for 16 employees. Giffords, which did not respond to a request for comment, announced a nationwide tour supporting gun-control candidates that appears to be spearheaded by its advocacy arm. The group said it would spend a "six figure sum in online engagement" on the tour alone.

"This is the year we will elect a gun safety majority in the Senate," former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, cofounder of the group, said in a statement.

A Free Beacon review of the Small Business Administration records did not find listings for PPP loans given to prominent gun-rights groups, though the disclosures only include loans of more than $150,000. The National Rifle Association, which has struggled during the pandemic and even had to lay off a significant number of staff members, confirmed that none of its arms had taken any PPP loans. Alan Gottlieb, whose gun-rights organization has an education and advocacy arm, said no part of his organization took PPP loans because he believed it was unethical to do so.

"As chairman of the Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, since one of the arms is political, I would not have applied for it," Gottlieb told the Free Beacon. "I don't think it's appropriate."

Gottlieb called on the gun-control groups to return the money they received from the program.

"I find it appalling they applied for, took, and even got PPP loans," he said. "The Brady Center and Giffords should give the money back. Gun owners in this country shouldn't have their tax dollars used to support groups that want to take their guns away."

Other political groups have returned loans following public disclosure. The Florida Democratic Party announced that it would return a PPP loan worth more than $700,000 after public backlash, according to the Miami Herald.