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A photo from 2014 is making the rounds again.
On Dec. 30, Twitter users began sharing a photo of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Russian spy Maria Butina. The photo has been circulated for several months, but a joking rumor that LaPierre wanted the photo removed from the internet generated fervor among users, gaining traction after anti-gun activist Fred Guttenberg shared the photo.
The campaign appears to have started with Twitter user @learningtohate.
“Whatever you do, DO NOT SHARE this photo of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre with Russian agent Maria Butina. Apparently, Wayne wants it removed from the internet,” @learningtohate tweeted.
Whatever you do, DO NOT SHARE this photo of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre with Russian agent Maria Butina. Apparently, Wayne wants it removed from the internet. pic.twitter.com/rKNX3ULylJ
— Darrell Hill (@learningtohate) December 31, 2018
Others started chiming in:
“Whatever you do, please please DO NOT SHARE this photo of #Republican @NRA #NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre with Russian spy Maria Butina. Apparently, Wayne wants it removed from the internet. Please,” user @paulsemel tweeted.
Whatever you do, please please DO NOT SHARE this photo of #Republican @NRA #NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre with Russian spy Maria Butina. Apparently, Wayne wants it removed from the internet. Please. pic.twitter.com/kKWFUzMA2J
— Paul Semel (@paulsemel) December 31, 2018
It continued into Tuesday and Wednesday.
Of course I wouldn’t share this or encourage other ppl to share it. Wayne LaPierre and his Russian spy Maria Butina do look rather chummy, though, don’t they? I’m sure nobody will retweet this or email it or distribute analog copies at work or anything. https://t.co/6nsZCzs4El
— Jennifer Devon (@JenniferADevon) January 1, 2019
Trust me; the very last thing I would do would be to share this photo of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre with Russian agent Maria Butina.
— Charles Brand (@etdweasel) January 1, 2019
It seems that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre doesn't want pictures of him with convicted Russian agent Maria Butina floating around the public. Like this one pic.twitter.com/iDOL4w76ph
— Good Luck (@johnwohn) January 2, 2019
Good to know! Should we also avoid taking screenshots of @NRA BFFs and Russian assets Wayne LaPierre and Maria Butina? 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾
Asking for a democracy. pic.twitter.com/inJCTOiCos
— Jen Callahan (@JenCallahan7) January 2, 2019
On New Year’s Day, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, shared the photo too, with the caption, “Ok, I will not share this. Oops!!! Just accidentally shared. I hope nobody looks at the picture of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Butina the Russian spy.”
Ok, I will not share this. Oops!!! Just accidentally shared. I hope nobody looks at the picture of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Butina the Russian spy. https://t.co/atAIOXRtV1
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) January 2, 2019
Butina originally shared the photo, which was taken at the NRA convention in Indianapolis in 2014, on her social media account, according to The Trace.
Butina shared several photos of her with American politicians like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal over the years and cultivated a close relationship with former NRA president David Keene.
Butina pled guilty in December to conspiring to act as an agent of the Russian state in the runup to the 2016 election. She worked with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian national bank, to infiltrate the NRA and create relationships with conservative politicians and candidates in an effort to influence U.S. policy toward Russia.
The Daily Dot’s efforts to reach LaPierre for comment were unsuccessful.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.