DENVER — Denver Public Schools this week decided to reject charitable grants from the NRA, but there’s another Denver-based organization that’s eager for them — the conservative Independence Institute.
The libertarian-leaning Independence Institute is one of the top recipients of charitable NRA grants, according to an Associated Press analysis of the NRA Foundation’s public tax records. The think tank received $241,000 from the foundation in 2016, the last year for which data is available. The institute reported receiving a total of $2 million in grants and donations that year.
The size of the Independence Institute’s grant is large enough to make Colorado the state with the fourth largest amount of NRA charitable donations, with $293,000 in grants. That places it only behind two much larger states — California and Texas — and North Carolina, home to Speedway Children’s Charities, which has received the largest NRA donation at $425,000.
Most of the NRA foundation’s money goes to schools, though after last month’s shooting at a Florida High School Denver Public Schools announced it would not accept any.
The Independence Institute has a long history in Colorado politics and is a prominent advocate of gun rights positions. Its research director, Dave Kopel, has written numerous law review articles defending gun rights and filed friend of court briefs supporting firearms owners and groups.
“It would make sense that America’s oldest civil rights organization, the NRA, would support our work,” said Mike Krause of the institute. “Indeed, we would like to think we are the most vocal and principled defender of the Second Amendment, and of the human right of self-defense, in Colorado. ”
The NRA did not return a request for comment.