Steve and Amber Mostyn, wealthy Texas trial attorneys, said today that they are giving $1 million to help start the gun-control advocacy group formed by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.
Steve Mostyn, one of the top contributors to a super political action committee that assisted in President Barack Obama’s re-election effort, is listed as treasurer of Giffords’s new super-PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Mostyn said the group will have a nonprofit wing, which will be used to conduct a public education campaign.
Mostyn said the super-PAC will counter the political contributions of the National Rifle Association, which is how he’s pitching it to other big Democratic donors.
“It’s time to stop the NRA from bullying common sense out of the discussion,” he said in an interview. “There are more options than just ‘guns or no guns.’”
Mostyn, 41 and a Houston resident, said he owns many guns and has a shooting range on his ranch in west Texas.
A long-time donor to Democratic causes and candidates in Texas, Steve Mostyn increased his federal giving in the 2012 elections. He contributed $4 million to Priorities USA Action, a super-PAC founded by former aides to Obama. His wife, Amber, gave more than $1 million to House Majority PAC, a super-PAC that helped Democratic congressional candidates.
“We put about $5 million into super-PACs, and I understand their ability to get things done,” he said. He has contacted other donors from Priorities and House Majority about Americans for Responsible Solutions and has had “a great response,” he said, declining to name other specific donors.
Mostyn said he believes the super-PAC will be able to compete with the NRA’s political giving. Federal Election Commission records show that the NRA’s Political Victory Fund spent $16 million in the two years leading to the Nov. 6 election.
An NRA nonprofit affiliate, the Institute for Legislative Action, made another $7.5 million in independent expenditures such as direct mail and ads, to help pro-gun candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, based in Washington.
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA, which claims more than 4 million members, didn’t return an e-mail or phone call seeking comment.
The NRA spent about $13 million trying to defeat Obama last year. The group put at least $300,000 into seven Senate races only to see six of its preferred candidates lose, Center for Responsive Politics data show. Only Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake won.
“We want to be there to balance the intimidation tactics of the NRA,” Mostyn said of Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Giffords, a Democrat, was wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six others.
“Achieving reform to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources,” Giffords and Kelly wrote in a USA Today opinion piece published yesterday, the second anniversary of the Arizona shooting.
Kelly called Mostyn, whom he’d met years ago when the astronaut was based in Houston, shortly after the Dec. 14 killings in Newtown, Connecticut, Mostyn said. The gunman shot his mother to death before killing 26 people, mostly 6-year-olds, at a nearby elementary school. He then committed suicide.
“He said he and Gabby felt it was time for them to do something more than just talking,” Mostyn said of Kelly.
The Newtown massacre also prompted Obama to tap Vice President Joe Biden to study gun-control and mental health issues. Biden invited the NRA to meet with administration officials this week.