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Gun ranges a go-to spot for political fundraisers

Published February 10, 2013 5:15 pm

Campaign cash • Politicians have found the mark targeting big donors at shooting events.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Glenn Dale, Md. • The winding path that leads to the Prince George's County Trap and Skeet Center is appropriately called Good Luck Road.

As in, good luck in your efforts to blast those orange clay discs out of the sky.

It's also an aptly named road for politicians, who traverse this stretch often with donors on their way to fundraisers at the shotgun range.

While the debate rages over gun control in the wake of several mass shootings, there are several members of Congress who are big-time gun-rights advocates, and it shows. They not only support and shoot guns, they tie them into their political cash-raising.

In the last six years, members of Congress or political action committees have held 39 fundraisers at the Prince George's County range, and that's in addition to dozens of laser-shooting events held at the National Rifle Association's offices near the Capitol and scores more in their home districts.

"The reason is there's a lot of sportsmen. A lot of them are interested in politics like a lot of other people," says Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, who hasn't held a gun range fundraiser, but plans to. "Some people like to golf, some people like to shoot, so you try to do fundraisers with events people are interested in."

Stewart's Utah colleague, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, invited donors to the Prince George's County range, asking for a $1,500 donation from a PAC and $750 for each individual. He did the same in October 2009.

"That is a beautiful facility," Chaffetz says. "It's different than a traditional breakfast at Charlie Palmer," referencing a steakhouse chain that is a frequent fundraiser spot.

Both Democrats and Republicans have trekked the short distance outside Washington, D.C., to shoot at clay pigeons, though most events come down on the GOP side.

And in Utah, where target practice is more of a sport, such fundraisers are common place.

Ex-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff held annual skeet-shooting events to raise cash. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt held several successful fundraisers — at $10,000 a pop — that he dubbed "Cast-and-Blast," where donors could fly fish and shoot.





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