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Overview:

 
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Stated Purpose:
Enact and enforce sensible gun laws and policies through grassroots activism, electing pro-gun control officials and increasing public awareness.

Tax Status:
501(c)(4)

Political Orientation:
Democratic

Profile:
September 2004 — The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is the lobbying and electioneering extension of the Brady Center, a gun-control organization founded by Sarah Brady after her husband, Jim, was paralyzed during the 1981 attempted assassination of President Reagan. The group was known as Handgun Control until 2001.1

The group lists the election of pro-gun-control officials among its objectives.2 During the 2002 election cycle, the Brady Campaign disseminated communications involving at least three political contests.3

In the Michigan congressional primary pitting Democratic Reps. John Dingell and Lynn Rivers, the Brady Campaign spent a reported $18,000 on a radio ad attacking Dingell’s gun safety record. The ad featured a Michigan member of the Million Moms March, who said, "When it comes to reducing gun violence, Mr. Dingell has let Michigan down.” The Brady Campaign and Million Moms March also launched an anti-gun, anti-Dingell Web site during the campaign, www.DingellandGuns.com.4

In 2002, the Brady Campaign also ran ads attacking Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich5 and distributed direct mail and telemarketing messages favoring Missouri Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan in her failed bid for re-election.6

The group reported to the IRS that it had zero political expenditures in each year from 2000 to 2002.7 In effect, the group claimed that none of its communications were intended to influence the outcomes of elections.8

In 2003, the Brady Campaign's PAC was fined $26,000 by the Federal Election Commission for failing to properly disclose $200,000 it spent on mailings in 2000 opposing two Republican House candidates, Reps. Ernest Fletcher (R-Ky.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).9

Several of the Brady Campaign's principal officers and directors have ties to the Democratic Party. Brady Campaign President Michael Barnes served in the House as a Democrat from Maryland from 1979 to 1987. Michael S. Berman, a member of the board of directors, was an aide to Vice President Walter Mondale and served as treasurer to the 1984 Mondale-Ferraro presidential campaign. Tony Orza, the Brady Campaign’s director of government relations, worked as legislative counsel for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and as general counsel for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)10


1   Judy Sarasohn, "Lott Upset Chamber's Firing of Executive," Washington Post, June 14, 2001.
2   Brady Campaign Web site. (Available at www.bradycampaign.org. Accessed on July 9, 2004.)
3   Public Citizen's analysis of data contained in the New Stealth PACs database. Data collected from groups' Web sites and annual tax forms, press reports, academic papers on activities of independent political groups and interviews by Public Citizen research staff.
4   Maryanne George, "15th Congressional District: Dingell, Rivers Trade Verbal Shots," Detroit Free Press, Aug. 1, 2002.
5   Ryan Connors, "Brady Campaign Targets Ehrlich," National Journal, June 5, 2002.
6   Martha asquoted, E. Terrence Jones, Matt McLaughlin and Dale Neuman, "The 2002 Missouri Senate Race," in "The Last Hurrah? Soft Money and Issue Advocacy in the 2002 Congressional Elections," edited by David E. Magelby and J. Quin Monson, 2003.
7   Brady Campaign 990 forms, 2000-2002.
8   IRS Form 990 Instructions, Line 81, 2003. (Available at www.irs.gov.)
9   "Brady Anti-Gun Group Pays FEC Fine," Associated Press, Dec. 4, 2003.
10   Public Citizen's analysis of data contained in the New Stealth PACs database. Data collected from groups' Web sites and annual tax forms, press reports, academic papers on activities of independent political groups and interviews by Public Citizen research staff.



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