July 17, 2018
Republican Gov. Scott Walker met twice in 2015 with a Russian agent posing as a gun rights activist. The woman, Maria Butina, was arrested Sunday as being part of a plot by Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Walker, who is seeking his third four-year term as governor in November, first met Butina in April 2015 when they both attended the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention in Nashville, Tenn. In a blog post, apparently from her, she said Walker said ‘hello’ to her in Russian. She later attended the kickoff in July 2015 of his brief GOP presidential campaign.
Walker and the NRA have been cozy for years. In Wisconsin, the NRA has spent more than $4.5 million during the past 20 years on outside electioneering activities to support GOP and conservative legislative and statewide candidates. The bulk of the NRA’s electioneering spending, about $3.5 million, has been to support Walker’s 2010 general, 2012 recall, and 2014 reelection for governor.
In addition to outside electioneering activities, NRA political action committees have directly contributed $94,200 to all legislative and statewide candidates between January 1998 and December 2017. The top recipient was Walker, who received $12,500 in NRA PAC contributions.
During the past seven years, Walker and GOP legislators, who took control of state government in January 2011, have approved numerous pro-gun bills. The pro-gun laws approved by Walker and majority GOP legislators include the state’s concealed carry law; elimination of the 48-hour waiting period to buy a gun; and legal protection for people who shoot trespassers, which is often called the “castle doctrine.”