Hired guns: How the NRA buys sway with Minnesota politicians

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Rep. John Kline (R-Lakeville) — Minnesota's Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM) — and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) — Minnesota's Most Reprehensible Congressman-in-waiting (TM) — were hurting. As a nation confronted the worst mass shooting in its history, the two lawmakers tweeted in mourning.

"Our hearts are filled with grief after the horrific tragedy in Orlando," wrote Paulsen. 

"[My wife] Vicky and I extend our prayers to families of victims of terrorist attack in Orlando," added Kline. 

Left missing from their heartfelt announcements: They've padded their political fortunes by taking generously from the National Rifle Association.

Since 2002, Kline has taken in excess of $40,000 from the NRA. Paulsen, whose district includes Edina, Plymouth, and Wayzata, has pocketed nearly $20,000. 

But it's not just Republicans taking money from the gun lobby, which is doing its best to keep nuts and terrorists easily armed for their mass murder adventures.  

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Minnesota congressmen Kline, Emmer, and Paulsen tweeted condolences about Orlando while cashing NRA campaign checks.

Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL-Detroit Lakes) is right at the top of the NRA money list with Kline. 

The 71-year-old, who represents western Minnesota from Pipestone to the Canadian border, has taken almost $40,000.    

It's money well spent.

Peterson co-sponsored 2011's Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act. It sought to allow licensed dealers to sell or deliver any firearm, namely handguns, to any state when existing law applied only permitted them to do so with rifles or shotguns. The congressman also voted to prohibit lawsuits against manufacturers.

According to the NRA's grading system, Peterson is a "legislator with not only an excellent voting record on all critical … issues, but who has also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment." He received an A+ rating. Kline scored an A. 

Paulsen's A grade has been dutifully earned as well. Over an 18-month period, Paulsen voted 13 times to block efforts to bring a gun safety measure to the House floor.

Nicknamed "No Fly, No Buy," the proposal would ban suspected terrorists on the FBI’s terror watch list from being able to buy guns. It seeks to close the loophole for people who the FBI has determined should not be on a plane, but can still legally purchase firearms.

People like Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who had reportedly been off and on the terror watch list.

Even people who have yet to enter Congress are still swimming in the NRA's largesse. Fleet Farm heir Stewart Mills, who's trying to unseat Rep. Rick Nolan (DFL-Crosby), accepted nearly $10,000 in NRA contributions in 2014 during his first failed bid.

No other federal candidate that election cycle reaped more gun money. In fact, according to the Washington Post, the NRA spent more than $800,000 backing Mills two years ago when the political neophyte lost to Nolan by only 3,700 votes.

Neither Mills, Kline, Paulsen, or Peterson responded to repeated interview requests about their gun votes.


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