Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns: 'Money is not all that matters'

Group pushing gun safety measures not discouraged by NRA’s clout

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As one of the leading advocates for new gun safety measures in the wake of the December mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Mayors Against Illegal Guns will be pitted against the deep-pocketed National Rifle Association.

That doesn't faze Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a nonprofit launched in 2007 by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

"Money is not all that matters," Glaze, who is also a principal at the D.C.-based lobbying firm The Raben Group, told the Center for Public Integrity. "Intensity matters a lot."

Glaze said that Mayors Against Illegal Guns has seen more than 500,000 new supporters since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 28 dead, including 20 children. 

"There are a lot of people who are more interested in the issue than there were before," Glaze said.

Nevertheless, the NRA has dominated Mayors Against Illegal Guns when it comes to recent influence spending.

Congressional records indicate that Mayors Against Illegal Guns has spent $730,000 on lobbying since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

That total includes $200,000 spent in 2012 when Glaze and two other Raben Group principals — Katharine Huffman and Karen Marangi — were registered as lobbyists for the group. The organization advocated for requiring background checks for all firearms purchases, including those at gun shows.

By contrast, the NRA has spent $10.7 million on lobbying since Obama took office, congressional records show. Last year alone, the NRA invested nearly $3 million, hiring 15 in-house lobbyists and 20 external lobbyists to speak up for its causes.

Glaze said that gun control advocates do not need to “match the NRA dollar-for-dollar.” He also welcomed the development of super PACs focused on gun safety to serve as a “counterweight” to the gun lobby, which reported spending roughly $25 million on political advertisements during the 2012 election cycle.

Earlier this month, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who survived an assassination attempt in January 2011, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, launched a super PAC called "Americans for Responsible Solutions." Earlier today, Giffords and Kelly testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, as did NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre.

So, too, has Bloomberg created a super PAC, which is called "Independence USA PAC."

Bloomberg’s group, which was formed last October, spent more than $8 million on ads during the 2012 election cycle, and it continues to gear up for more action.

On Tuesday, Independence USA PAC announced its involvement in the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, where a special election is being conducted to replace Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned in November.

Why is 2013 an important year for campaign finance? Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel will answer that, and many other questions about the money-in-politics world in a live chat on Monday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. ET.