Huffpost Politics

'Bribe The Senate' Campaign Looks To Push Congress On Background Checks, Hopefully Not Go To Jail

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A new viral campaign launched this week is reaching out to anyone upset over the Senate's April vote against bipartisan legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases.

Originally premised on the notion that gun lobby donations influenced the votes of six senators who opposed the measure, the "Bribe the Senate" campaign was a largely farcical effort to raise competing funds and perhaps convince the lawmakers to reverse their votes.

As the campaign notes, the concept of expanding background checks is popular among Americans. A poll taken around the time of the initial vote showed around 90 percent of respondents in favor of the idea. The idea has since lost a little steam, though 71 percent still expressed support in a June survey.

The group always had concerns about the legality of trying to "bribe" the Senate, however. In a YouTube video explaining the effort -- with the help of some cute cats, screaming goats and confetti -- the group's spokesman explained that he would take the money to Capitol Hill and simply outbid the gun lobbyists. This action, he admitted, would likely lead to "jail time."

Sure enough, the group checked with their lawyers and got confirmation that this was, in fact, completely illegal. So the group made some last-minute tweaks to the campaign.

“Honestly, we started this whole thing with the intent to fundraise for the bribes. But the lawyers were very adamant that this was go-to-jail illegal. Not just for us, but for anybody who donated. So we had to change our approach late in the game,” Simon Bruyn, one of the four advertising specialists who concocted the campaign, said in a statement.

With the members in full agreement that they didn't want to go to jail, Bribe the Senate will instead allow users to direct tweets to the six senators and ask them to revisit their stance on the issue. The new campaign will start on Friday -- 100 days after the Senate vote -- and will focus on Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

“We get it. Bribes are bad. You can’t pay a politician to change their vote,” said Emil Tiismann, one of the site’s creators. “Next time we will form a proper political lobbying organization so that we can collect unlimited cash in order to have a meaningful political conversation with our elected officials where we strongly express our opinions.”

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