comScore

Pro-Gun Legislators Blast Lobbying Group Minnesota Gun Rights as "Iowa Schemers"

Pro-gun legislators are calling out the group, led by former Iowa political operative Chris Dorr (pictured above), for being out-of-state fraudsters

Pro-gun legislators are calling out the group, led by former Iowa political operative Chris Dorr (pictured above), for being out-of-state fraudsters

Some of Minnesota's most pro-gun legislators are furious with Minnesota Gun Rights, a lobbying group known for sending fear-mongering letters and emails to its supporters to raise money.

A group of 11 Republican and five Democrat members of the state House recently penned a scathing open letter calling MGR "pretenders," "fraudsters" and claiming the group is based in Iowa and doesn't have any real interest in Minnesota politics.

See also: Michele Bachmann Scandal Cost Iowa State Senator His Job

"They send inflammatory emails and mailings saying the sky is falling because of bills introduced that have no chance of going anywhere at all," said Andrew Rothman, president of Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, a Minnesotan gun rights lobbying organization founded in 1989.

"They prey on people's fears and paint things as pretty much going to heck in a handbasket right away if you don't send us money," he added.

MGR's executive director is Chris Dorr, a former aide to disgraced Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Sorenson, if you don't remember, illegally accepted money to be Michele Bachmann's campaign chair in Iowa during her presidential run, then stabbed her in the back days before the Iowa caucus by throwing his support behind Ron Paul.

In a separate, but similar scandal Dorr admitted in a sworn affidavit to stealing an email list off of the computer of someone from an Iowa homeschool organization.

Dorr did not return a message left at the number listed on MGR's website, but here he is pontificating in front of the Minnesota State Capitol a few weeks ago.

Minnesota Gun Rights ALERTHouse leadership is blocking critical self-defense legislation (Stand-Your-Ground HF1993) with the excuse, "it can't pass the Senate." House Leadership should focus on their own chamber - and their campaign promises to gun owners - and pass it out so that gun owners can mobilize resources to fight for the bill in the Senate! #2A #MNGunRightsOne thing is certain: SYG will NEVER become law if politicians always blame the other chamber for their own refusal to act. Please call the Speaker's office at 651-296-5364 or 651-296-5399 and tell them to pass Stand-Your-Ground through the House.

Posted by Minnesota Gun Rights on Monday, March 30, 2015

The Minnesota Secretary of State's website shows MGR was registered with the state by Tammy Houle, a right-wing activist in Red Wing. Houle told us yesterday she hadn't seen the legislators' letter.

"Frankly, when you bring those names up (the 16 legislators who signed the letter), it doesn't come as a surprise," she said.

We asked her which legislators did support her group, if guys like Tony Cornish, who thinks everyone at the Mall of America should be packing heat and wears assault rifle lapel pins to legislative hearings, signed the letter blasting MGR.

"I don't think I'll disclose that at this time," she replied.

Houle says she served as president of MGR last year and remains on its three-person board, but now Steve Hackbarth is president.

Like Dorr, Hackbarth also has some interesting skeletons in his closet.

US Rep. Tom Emmer -- Bachmann's replacement in the US House of Representatives -- once accused Hackbarth of trying to extort him with a suspiciously-timed lawsuit during Emmer's failed run for governor in 2010.

The legislators' letter is primarily focused on taking MGR behind the woodshed for continuing to use Rep. Glen Gruenhagen's signature on mailings after Gruenhagen became wise to their scam and asked them to stop.

"Although Rep. Gruenhagen, once, long ago, as a favor to a constituent, allowed the operation to use his name, he has repeatedly ordered this group to stop using his name, but they continue to fraudulently send letters over his signature," the letter reads. "Rep. Gruenhagen has been forced to initiate legal action against these fraudsters."

MGR is affiliated with a network of pro-gun rights organizations called the National Association for Gun Rights. Included in the network is a group called Iowa Gun Rights, run by Chris Dorr's brother Aaron Dorr.

Keeping with the family tradition, Aaron Dorr has also been ripped publicly by a pro-gun politician.

"I don't know, maybe we've hit a nerve where these politicians have been comfortable and exposed some area where they've been complacent," said Houle.

Rothman isn't buying it.

"What they're after is money," he said.

A previous version of this article stated all 16 representatives who signed the letter were Republicans. There were five Democrats and 11 Republicans. We regret the error. h/t Bluestem Prairie and A Geek With Guns

Send news tips to Ben Johnson.