Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon has a great story about the fact that Everytown for Gun Safety isn’t going to spend nearly as much money on the elections as the group claimed it would. Boasting that the organization would drop $60-million into 2020 races up and down the ticket, Everytown hasn’t even spent half that, and has less than $5-million in cash on hand.
Everytown did not respond to a request for comment on its political activities, but the spending picture in late October is much grimmer than when it announced the $60 million goal in January. The group said it would spend double what it did in 2018 and even surpass the $50 million the National Rifle Association spent helping elect Donald Trump and other Republicans in 2016.
“The gun-safety movement has never been stronger or larger—and we’re going to meet this moment with our most aggressive, well resourced, and grassroots-powered electoral program ever,” Shannon Watts, founder of Everytown subsidiary Moms Demand Action, said when announcing the program.
Instead, Everytown is being outspent by the NRA. The NRA’s PAC—which raised two-thirds of its haul from small donors—brought in more cash than Everytown in September. When combined with the NRA’s super PAC, the gun-rights group had a roughly $3 million cash-on-hand advantage over Everytown as of October.
I think there are a couple of factors at play here. First, the fact that we’ve seen record numbers of gun purchases and millions of new gun owners over the past few months has undoubtably changed Everytown’s political calculations. As Gutowski points out, some of the ads that Everytown has funded don’t focus on gun control at all, but on issues like climate change and healthcare. Gun control isn’t the winning issue that Everytown’s primary funder thought it was going to be back in January, when he was still running for president.
Michael Bloomberg himself is the biggest factor in Everytown’s spending, since it’s his pet gun control group. And Bloomberg has been spending on the elections. He just hasn’t been putting as much of his money into Everytown’s PAC. Instead, he donated $15-million to his Independence USA PAC in October, and the PAC has spent $20-million on the elections to date.
That’s actually slightly less than Everytown’s spent so far, but my guess is that when the final reporting figures come in, Independence USA will have spent more to elect Joe Biden than Everytown for Gun Safety. At the end of the day though, both groups are largely funded by Michael Bloomberg himself. His various PACs are just a shell game, allowing him to craft messages for different voting demographics without them ever realizing that they’re all ultimately hearing from the same anti-gun billionaire.
Now, there are a couple more factors in Everytown’s deflated campaign spending; the possibility that Bloomberg, who did drop more $1-billion on his own presidential run this year, decided that he could actually spend a little less on his anti-gun campaigns than what he’d planned on. It doesn’t mean he’s suddenly uninterested in flipping state houses from Iowa to Texas, just that he’s looking to be a little more cost-effective in doing so.
Finally, Bloomberg could also just be lying about how much money he plans to spend. He said he was dropping $100-million in Florida to elect Biden, for example, but so far there’s no evidence that he’s actually done so, either through Everytown or Independence USA. Less spending doesn’t mean no spending, however, and Bloomberg’s still very much trying to impact the elections just as the NRA is with its spending.
I think it’s absolutely worth pointing out that Everytown is spending far less on the elections than it vowed to do, but I don’t want gun owners and Second Amendment supporters to become complacent because of it. The Bloomberg bucks are still flowing, and the goal is still the same; to turn our right to keep and bear arms into a privilege of the select and chosen few.