The National Rifle Association told the Washington Free Beacon that MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi is not currently counted as one of its members and never has been, despite the anchor's on-air claim that the group conspired to count him as one in order to inflate their membership numbers.
"Mr. Velshi is not and has not been a member of the National Rifle Association," Jason Brown, NRA media relations manager, told the Free Beacon.
Velshi has claimed on air, without presenting any supporting evidence, that the NRA is secretly counting him as a member. On February 16, 2018, Velshi said each year he receives a membership card from the NRA despite never having signed up with or paid dues to the group.
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"The NRA claims to be a membership organization—I guess like a club—but they won't release their data, leading some to be skeptical about its real purpose and funding," Velshi said during a segment decrying the influence of the gun-rights group. "I'm a gun owner. Every year I receive a membership card from the NRA with a membership number. I've never asked for one. I've never paid for one, but I strongly suspect that I am counted in the secret records of the NRA as a member."
Velshi did not show the membership card he claims he was sent or any other evidence supporting his claim, but he did go on to attack the NRA as akin to the "corn lobby" and interested only in protecting the profits of gun makers.
"The NRA is the gun industry's lobby," he said. "It doesn't represent gun owners. It represents gun makers and exists to protect their profits—the same as the pharma lobby or the bank lobby or the corn lobby. Strangely, we all use drugs and banks and most of us eat corn, but we don't have cards that indicate our membership and support of those industries and their lobbies."
The NRA said Velshi may have somehow been confused by marketing materials but reiterated that he is not now, nor has he ever been a member of the gun-rights group.
"It’s possible he may have received membership marketing materials that he confused as a membership card, but we maintain Mr. Velshi is not on our membership rolls."
Velshi and NBC News did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.