Dana Loesch, the NRA, and their allergy to truth


Quality photo-editing not required when taking out the trash

Bullshit merchant Dana Loesch’s claim that the NRA isn’t a “lobby group” is patently false

As a mostly impartial gadfly, I try hard to be fair. What I seek are sound arguments, which, one might note, should be on the Endangered Species list by now. There’s lots of arguments, call it Set A, the set of all arguments. Some are logical, or at least pretend to be. I’d hazard that this subset, B, is much smaller than set A. There’s an even smaller subset, C, that at least can lay claim to validity because they follow all the proper logical forms before slipping off into non sequitur. Lastly, there’s set S, the infinitesimally small subset comprising sound arguments…valid arguments whose conclusions necessarily follow from true premises.

So earlier this morning I hesitantly gave a small squeak of assent on a point Dana Loesch had made. “She’s not wrong.” It was an inconsequential point anyone not in a persistent vegetative state could have made, so it hardly bears repeating. Along the way, I got curious and checked her profile at PolitiFact.

One problem I do have with PolitiFact is that one can only really discern that, of the statements they chose, x number rate as this, x  number rate as that, and so on. PolitiFact is hardly forthcoming about a few salient points, however. How many total statements has the checked speaker made? How many of those are duplicates? Of those, what percentage is represented by the statements their fact checkers have investigated? And by what editorial method are those statements singled out from the speaker’s total set of statements? Is there any obligation for PolitiFact to find a true statement from the speaker’s body of work to balance things out? Would it be fair for PolitiFact to balance an egregious lie with a banal truth, or vice versa?

That said, I found it curious that a lightning rod like Dana Loesch would have had only three of her statements checked by PolitiFact. I found it telling that of those three, one was rated Mostly False and two were rated False, which puts all three deeply into Bullshit(tm) territory. I also found it telling that of those three lies erroneous statements (calling them lies without proof of intent would just be horribly cynical of me, even if that’s what I really think), two had nothing to do with guns and one was just about inconsequential to the larger issue of guns in the public discourse.

So, at that brief moment in time I cautiously said “she’s not wrong,” and even thought it remotely possible that maybe the reason she’s not fact-checked more often might be that she’s right more than wrong? It was a fair offering in a friendly discussion about controversial subjects. Yes, Virginia, those still happen, regardless of what we’re told to think.

Then this happened.

As tweeted by Dana Loesch (see link to Twitter for confirmation), verbatim:

NRA isn’t a “lobby group.” It’s a fellowship organization of gun owners. I can’t take you seriously on any level now that you’ve demonstrated you don’t know anything about the group your (sic) smearing. Enjoy your day.

I checked. She said it (see above). She’s lying. Here, I impute motive because the dots, when connected, suggest motive. I don’t need PolitiFact to tell me that she’s wrong about the NRA not being a “lobby group” when I have my own experience with actual 501(c)3 non-profit membership organizations that engaged in very few lobbying expenditures on a very limited basis so as to not upset their tax-exempt apple cart. When one derives significant revenues from industry and one spends $5 million in a year lobbying, one is lobbying, no matter how many members one has or how one waves it away. Dana Loesch couldn’t be more full of shit on this point if she tried.

Here’s Open Secrets with data.

Maybe those dirty libs at Business Insider were wrong several days before Loesch makes this false claim?

One might also notice that NRA lobbying expenses just happen to coincide with coming down from a high at the end of Clinton, goes into doldrums during Bush, and goes to new heights under Obama. That’s not membership money alone that makes that kind of spending possible. And it reveals partisanship in the lobbying efforts, which is even worse than merely cause-centered lobbying.

For that matter, the NRA is hardly entirely forthcoming. The NRA is a 501(c)4 organization that has 4 different 501(c)3 operations under its umbrella. There’s major differences between the two forms of non-profit incorporation.

Is the NRA a 501(c)4 just because I say it is? Here’s ProPublica.

Are there differences between what 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 can do? You bet your sweet bippy there are, at least according to this from the National Bar Association.

Note that 501(c)3’s can do a vaguely defined amount of lobbying, with significant restrictions, unless they mean to jeopardize their tax-exempt status. Needless to say, the big ones with armies of lawyers know this and tiptoe through the minefield accordingly for the most part. Big points: no election campaign support and your contributions are tax deductible.

The NRA is 501(c)4. Anyone who read the link from the American Bar Association above will have noted that those can make campaign contributions, endorse candidates and lobby on an unlimited basis. The trade-off is that one’s contributions to the NRA (properly speaking, not one of their 501(c)3 spinoffs under their umbrella) are not tax deductible.

To repeat: Dana Loesch couldn’t be more full of shit on this point if she tried. For that matter, the NRA doesn’t even want you to notice this bit of detail. Go to their About page and Ctrl-F for 501. You’ll find one mention of one of their 501(c)3 spin-offs and no mention of the NRA’s actual filing status as 501(c)4. Why omit that critically important point on their About page if they’re so honest and forthcoming?


Image credit: wheelbarrow of manure licensed in the Creative Commons, available from Dana Loesch’s bullshit-spitting head extracted from photo by Gage Skidmore.