Mitt Romney received $0 from the NRA during his 2018 senate campaign, not millions

While Romney was campaigning against President Barack Obama in 2012, the National Rifle Association spent millions to get a Republican in the White House.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mitt Romney gives his victory speech, at the Romney Headquarters, in Orem, on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. A review of Federal Election Commission filings by The Salt Lake Tribune found that the National Rifle Association donated no direct funds to Romney's senate campaign in 2018.

A review of Federal Election Commission filings shows that Utah Sen. Mitt Romney received zero dollars from the National Rifle Association during his 2018 senate campaign.

In the wake of Tuesday’s Texas elementary school mass shooting, the Utah politician was criticized for allegedly accepting massive campaign cash, to the tune of more than $13 million, from the pro-gun lobby. It appeared to originate from social media posts that cited the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website, a gun control nonprofit that compiled a list of senators who allegedly had received large donations from the NRA.

Romney, the Brady website said, was the U.S. Senator who had received the most campaign donations from the NRA, with a total of $13,647,676 — millions more than his colleagues and around twice the cash of the next highest senator.

But a review of FEC filings by The Salt Lake Tribune found that Romney’s 2018 senate campaign received no direct donations from the NRA. And a review of the National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund’s campaign donations — the NRA’s political action committee — also shows no donations to Romney’s 2018 campaign. A review of the Utah senator’s 2024 reelection campaign also shows no donations from the gun lobbyist.

“No one owns Sen. Romney’s vote, as evidenced by his record of independence in the Senate,” Romney spokesperson Arielle Mueller told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday.

By the time he ran for U.S. Senate in Utah in 2018, Romney was already a household name for running as the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential election.

In 2012, Romney’s presidential and related campaign funds — which received more than hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions — did receive $40,000 from the NRA in three separate deposits to two different funds. On July 27 of that year, according to the FEC, Romney For President, Inc received two $5,000 donations from the NRA’s political action committee, while on the same day Romney Victory, Inc received $30,000 from the NRA (victory funds allow donors to contribute larger amounts of money to a joint committee that will then be divided between multiple organizations).

Six years later, Romney’s senate campaign — which raised more than $4 million dollars in contributions — was partially financed with leftover money from his presidential campaign fund in the form of a $1 million deposit on Feb. 5 and a $200,000 deposit on July 24 from Romney For President, Inc.

The more than $13 million Romney allegedly received from the NRA — and the likely reason why Brady reports that Romney received such a massive amount of money from the gun lobbies — is related to the money the NRA spent on trying to defeat Barack Obama during the president’s 2012 reelection campaign.

According to FEC filings from 2012, the National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund raised more than $14 million and dispersed more than $16 million during the campaign cycle. Around $11 million of that disbursement went to “independent expenditures” — like television and online advertising — and another $1.2 million was contributed to other committees. Records of the independent expenditures show advertisement purchases supporting Romney and opposing Obama.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence did not respond to requests for comment.

Fortune magazine reported that the NRA “spent about $13 million to try to unseat President Barack Obama and elect Mitt Romney” in 2012. They reported that the gun lobby group spent another $30 million on now-former President Donald Trump’s 2016 election.