Archive for the 'National Rifle Association' Category



Wayne LaPierre’s Dumpster Fire

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 3 weeks ago

David Codrea:

… we don’t know where any of this will lead. Perhaps LaPierre will be able to stay on the tiger’s back, although with the virtually unlimited resources at the disposal of New York State, which is out to get him, and now, Washington D.C., out to do the same, I’m not sure I’d cover that bet.

What he’s doing now is surrounding himself with a protective guard and purging any he suspects might be threats. And clutching for survival lest the twisting tiger unseats and turns on him…

Meanwhile, members keep getting those interminable fundraising solicitations, as signs are a critical mass will be holding out until Wayne is gone. As the dumpster fire continues to burn it’s fair to wonder at what point politicians, particularly in districts where the vote is close, will start to view NRA endorsements as guilt-by-association liabilities.

I think politicians already see NRA endorsement as a liability rather than an asset.  And the gun community did this to itself.  These are all self-inflicted wounds.

I suspect Wayne will be able to “ride the tiger” just so long.  Sooner or later, the lack of membership dues will dry up the organization coffers, and then the tiger will starve.  What remains to be seen is whether what shell remains of the NRA board ousts LaPierre in order to save the NRA?

National Rifle Association: The Company It Keeps

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 3 weeks ago

John Richardson sends this.

If you attended the Meeting of Members at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, you might remember a short Filipino lady seeking out the youngest and oldest Life Member for recognition. That was Mille Hallow who has served as Wayne LaPierre’s right hand since 1996. According to her bio with the National Foundation for Women Legislators where she serves as Secretary, she is the Managing Director, Executive Operations. Earlier according to the same bio, she served as the Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She went by Mildred Bautista then.

John goes on to fisk here history.

Mildred Bautista, former executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, yesterday was given a suspended prison sentence and placed on three years probation in connection with charges she stole more than $23,000 in commission funds.

So … she’s a convicted embezzler.  Isn’t that nice.

My dog could have done a better job of running the NRA over the past decade.  At least he would have bitten anyone who tried to mess with me, unlike Wayne and his cronies.

Three NRA Board Members Resign

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Washington Post.

Three National Rifle Association board members who have raised concerns about reports of reckless spending and mismanagement by the group’s leadership resigned Thursday, another sign of mounting dissent within the nation’s most powerful gun-rights group.

The three board members — Esther Schneider of Texas, Sean Maloney of Ohio and Timothy Knight of Tennessee — said they were stripped of their committee assignments after they asked questions about allegations of lavish spending by NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and other financial excesses.

“While our belief in the NRA’s mission remains as strong today as ever, our confidence in the NRA’s leadership has been shattered,” they wrote in a letter to NRA officials Thursday obtained by The Washington Post.

[ … ]

Board member Marion Hammer … wrote in a text message to The Post her reaction to the departing board members: “Don’t let the door hit you in the back on your way out.”

The NRA: An organization for Fudds, run by pit vipers.

What’s Really Going On Inside NRA Operations?

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 3 weeks ago

Scott Bach writing at Ammoland.

The purpose of this column is to explain what has recently transpired at NRA, and to refute the false narratives being spread about the Association.  Responsible board members have remained silent until now for legal reasons, but I believe what follows should be said.

Over a year ago, as NRA’s former treasurer was departing, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a renewed emphasis on transparency and compliance with best practices for the Association and all of its vendors.  Among other things, every vendor was required to provide extra detail backing up their invoices, and additional levels of detail on NRA operations were included on the Association’s tax returns.

Can you see where this is going right off the bat?  This is at least initially about some big ole’ bad boy who was the “former treasurer.”  What the NRA really needed after this bad boy’s departure was a major accounting.  Wayne was just the man to bring that accountability.

LaPierre’s efforts proved to be prescient.  Officials in several jurisdictions began targeting the NRA, investigating how legal loopholes might be used to permanently shut down the Association. But it turns out that LaPierre’s good governance program may very well have created legal impediments to that, blocking efforts to harm NRA.

Ironically, some of those same transparency measures that may protect NRA from hostile public officials were spun by the anti-gun media to fuel a false narrative about NRA’s financial health and spending habits.  The media painted a fake portrait of a sputtering organization in decline, led by selfish executives lavishly spending member monies. That the media should present such a false narrative is not surprising. The surprising part is that some gun owners actually believed them.

Right.  Wayne didn’t really spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on suits and clothing, and he didn’t get an apartment for his sweetie, and there wasn’t a sweet deal with Marion Hammer to give her money she never earned and for which she did no work, and there wasn’t a deal to funnel monies to cronies who were loyal to Wayne.  It’s all just a myth that some stupid NRA members believed.  Not one shred of evidence to refute any of the data.  It just is what he says it is because he says it.

In any event, LaPierre’s initiative to ensure that every NRA vendor provide extra invoice detail required cooperation from the vendors themselves.  Apparently, all but one vendor fully complied. That vendor was among the NRA’s largest, a public relations firm deeply embedded in the NRA’s highest-profile, most sensitive operations. The vendor was so deeply entrenched, for so long, that it apparently had developed independent financial relationships with several NRA officials – including former NRA President Oliver North.  Instead of simply providing the required additional invoice detail, the vendor apparently resisted.

So now the narrative has switched to the big ole’ bad Oliver North and the company that had the right relationship with none other than Wayne himself.  It’s everybody’s fault by Wayne.

By the way, I’m no fan of Oliver North either.  His assertion that civilians have no business owning “assault weapons” like AK-47s proves he was never anything but a Fudd, perfect in all ways for leadership of the NRA.  Oliver North can go pound sand.

As an aside, to those that know him, LaPierre is actually noted for his modest everyday wardrobe. As the public face of over 100 million gun owners, appropriate clothing for high-profile appearances is a justifiable corporate expense.  The cost over the 15 years cited in the information dump was less than 0.007 % (7/1000ths of one percent) of the nearly $4 billion in revenue LaPierre helped raise during the same period to preserve our Second Amendment rights.

His modest everyday wardrobe.  And note how Wayne helped raise the money in NRA coffers.  It’s not about the members, but about Wayne.

LaPierre has consistently done the right thing for NRA, not because it was easy or convenient, but because it was right.  He has not been the problem; he has been the solution.

“Consistently done the right thing for the NRA.”  How about for the members?  Let’s see – support the assault weapons ban, support red flag laws, support (and give idea for) the bump stock ban?  Is that enough?

Well, you’ve seen enough of this sycophant.  This is a disgusting and loathsome missive, full of lies, myths, deflections, blame, and misdirects.

The author ought to be ashamed.  So should Wayne.

Prior:

NRA Category

David Dell’Aquila’s Battle To Reform The NRA

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 4 weeks ago

TTAG:

David Dell’Aquila says he finally realized that his attempts to reform the National Rifle Association from within were doomed after a conversation he had with NRA President Carolyn Meadows (she hadn’t been given the top job yet at the time). It happened during a party for large donors like himself that was held before the Indianapolis annual meeting in April.

Dell’Aquila tells TTAG that he approached Meadows because he’d received information indicating that a high-ranking NRA employee was receiving payments from vendors to whom he directed business. Meadows asked where he heard that (he told her it didn’t matter). She then told him none of it was true.

Then Dell’Aquila said he asked Meadows — strictly hypothetically — if she had a problem with an NRA official collecting a salary from the Association while using a vendor with which he either had an ownership interest or received payments for business directed its way (i.e. kickbacks).

According to Dell’Aquila, Meadows told him, “That’s how it’s done in D.C. Everyone does it.”

That’s when he says he knew his year-long effort (it started following the 2018 Dallas annual meeting) to bring about change and accountability by working with NRA officers and employees was futile.

Dell’Aquila, a retired Nashville technology consultant, then set about developing a four-phase strategy to force EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre and his supporters — both in management and on the board — out of their positions.

I like the cut of his jib.  Then there’s this (readers and I have discussed the issue of fiduciary responsibility of NRA board members and just how far that goes).

It is important for each member of the Board of Directors to completely understand his or her responsibilities. For example, current NRA officers who have stated “I don’t know anything about that,” “that is the first time I’m hearing it,” “I trust Wayne completely,” etc., are not deemed within the law as valid acceptable legal defenses. It is your responsibility to know or take the necessary actions to obtain such knowledge.

Again, we’ll see just how far that responsibility goes, but I do hope it goes all the way to actual personal legal liability.

With all of that said, I still doubt that the NRA can be reformed.  I think it’s dead.

NRA Controllers “Punishing” Dissidents

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 1 week ago

From Wayne:

Herschel,

You and I are now fighting the toughest and most consequential election battles of our lives – and I need you shoulder-to-shoulder with me like never before.

The news media is now attacking NRA 24/7, with a nonstop barrage of fake news and lies. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is pledging to spend AT LEAST $500 million electing a gun-ban extremist to the White House next year.

And we’re facing the most radical anti-gun candidates in the history of American politics – gun-hating zealots who want to LICENSE and FINGERPRINT gun owners, OUTLAW magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and BAN and CONFISCATE every semi-automatic rifle in America.

To prepare for these massive battles AND say thank you for your past support – I want to offer you some very generous membership discounts and extraordinary NRA gifts when you renew or upgrade your NRA membership by August 2nd.

Gee, that’s all too bad, Wayne.  But the gravy train had to run out of other people’s money at some point, just like socialism.

I’ll tell you what.  Let’s suppose you have honestly had a conversion.  I’ll give you this chance.  I’ll join again the day you get rid of the GCA and NFA.  How’s that?  You have a target to shoot for now.  Write me another note when that happens.

Next up, it looks like Wayne and the witch of the NRA, Marrion Hammer, are trying to punish dissidents.

Over the weekend, former NRA President Marion Hammer sent a private email to board members telling them to fall in line or face the consequences.

Hammer’s letter, previously only reported within the firearms blogosphere, is an apparent response to a number of board members who have posted publicly that they have faced retaliation for questioning alleged financial malfeasance in the organization. Hammer wrote that stripping the assignments was a punishment for ongoing “agitation” that has taken place outside of the “appropriate setting.”

“The NRA finds itself under attack,” Hammer wrote. “Some within our ranks—members of the NRA Board of Directors—have joined in these attacks. There have been leaks of proprietary and confidential information to the front pages of newspapers, websites and social media pages. Members of the board have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of our Association. Yet, some have chosen not to do so.”

“Those who didn’t get an assignment might want to consider whether or not they want to help us save the Second Amendment or continue on a course detrimental to NRA and our mission,” she concluded. “The decision is ultimately theirs.”

Just how NOT working on a committee is punishment, I cannot fathom.  I’d rather take a beating than work on a committee of pretty much any kind.  Working on a committee is like trying to herd cats.

But it appears that the witch believes she can bully good men.  There are a few good men left on the board, I take it.  The two salient questions are these: [1] How long will those good men sully their reputation by being associated with the failed NRA, with the added bonus of now being known as someone who could easily be bullied by the likes of Marrion Hammer (can you say “Coward?”), and [2] How long will the Fudds continue to fund Wayne’s and Marrion’s fat paychecks and retirements?

NRA Suspends Chris Cox

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 1 week ago

Yahoo News.

The National Rifle Association suspended its top lobbyist and one of his deputies, adding further turmoil to the gun-rights group’s leadership ranks as it wages legal battles on multiple fronts and prepares for a bruising 2020 election cycle.

The NRA confirmed Thursday that it had suspended Chris Cox, the lobbying chief who was viewed widely as a future leader of the group, and his deputy chief of staff, Scott Christman.

David Codrea has this bit of wisdom.  “Never f*** with a guy who got to where he is by eliminating his superior.”

The link he supplies has this interesting (and to me, previously unknown) bit of history.

The core issue was how the NRA’s PR company, Ackerman McQueen, was drawing millions of dollars a year from the organization and improperly controlling NRA staff. The Board directed Wayne to sever ties with Ack-Mac, and Wayne promised to do so, then claimed to have done so, by bringing in a new PR company called Mercury Group. The “new” PR company turned out to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ack-Mac, with all of the same players in all of the same positions, still bleeding the association of the same millions of dollars.

So it would appear that NRA politics is as dirty and ugly as American politics, and that chasing the money is the name of the game.

It’s too bad for Chris, really.  I know very little of him, and were I to know more, I might hate him as much as I do Wayne LaPierre.

But I maintain that Wayne is trash.  He’s an unmitigated scoundrel, a ne’er-do-well, a rapscallion, a wretch.  As long as he is at the helm of the NRA, I won’t be connected with it again.

Some Texas Gun Rights Groups Oppose A State-Funded Gun Storage Safety Campaign, But Not The NRA

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 2 weeks ago

Texas Tribune.

After several of their priority bills failed to gain traction, some gun rights advocates said House and Senate leadership failed them. Now they’re calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to veto a line item in the state budget they say would add insult to an injurious legislative session.

But that same line in the state’s $251 billion budget is being viewed differently by other firearms enthusiasts.

While some smaller, homegrown groups view the item — $1 million for a public awareness campaign to promote responsible gun storage among firearms owners — as an affront to the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association says it is unopposed to, though not thrilled by, the public awareness campaign.

Their attention now turns to what Abbott does during the period when he can veto line items in the budget.

Abbott touted the need to promote safe gun storage as part of his school safety proposals in the aftermath of the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 wounded. And with a June 16 deadline to make vetoes, the governor is in a delicate position of trying not to alienate Texas gun-rights activists, while advancing a net of school safety reforms that the Legislature passed.

Texas budget writers authorized the $1 million for the Department of Public Safety to promote gun storage so long as it does “not convey a message that it is unlawful under state law to keep or store a firearm that is loaded or that is readily accessible for self-defense.” The campaign, unless vetoed by Abbott, could include online and printed materials, public service announcements or other advertising. House lawmakers first proposed the idea in a draft of the two-year budget in March, and it was approved by both chambers in May.

“It’s certainly fine and lawful to have a weapon for your own protection,” state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, the House’s lead budget writer, told The Texas Tribune. “But I think we also need to be aware that it’s not uncommon for a child to access a loaded weapon and inadvertently and accidentally hurt themselves.”

But as some gun rights groups criticize the state’s Republican leadership for not stopping the public awareness campaign — “Speaker [Dennis] Bonnen slipped a $1 million spending spree for the promotion of “safe” gun storage,” reads a news release from Texas Gun Rights. “The House and Senate failed to stop this budget rider,” says another one from Gun Owners of America — others have stayed neutral and say the line-item is small and noncontroversial.

“No ‘mandatory storage’ bill passed,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said. “What passed was a safe gun storage campaign rider that was just several lines in a nearly 1,000 page budget and NRA didn’t oppose it, not that anyone bothered to ask about our position.”

We’re not sure why $1 million of taxpayers’ dollars need to be used for such a campaign,” Hunter said. “The state can go ahead and do their thing, while we will continue leading the discussion with our own firearms safety training and accident prevention programs — again, at no cost to taxpayers.”

Well then allow me to explain it to you.  This is the first step.  What appears in education first appears in societal pressure next, and then in financial pressure in the way of things like insurance, and then finally in law.  This is the first of several steps the controllers intend to take.

So readers, is that what the NRA should be working on?  “We will continue leading the discussion with our own firearms safety training and accident prevention programs.”  Do you need them to do that for you?

One Man’s Perspective On Wayne LaPierre

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 3 weeks ago

From a reader, The Firearms Patent Attorney:

Poor Wayne.  No one complained that he earns over a million dollars a year leading the NRA ($5M according to Wikipedia).  No one paid attention to whether or not he flies in private jets to NRA events – I don’t know but I assume so.  Questionable but tolerable.  I try to fly first class to industry events and amortizing a $1000 ticket over a hundred meetings at the SHOT Show or NRA Annual Meeting makes it a good investment in reduced stress when every bit of positive energy helps.  If Dallas-area attendees ever want to link up to share a private jet I’m happy to make arrangements.

Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.  Leaked documents show that Wayne received hundreds of thousands of dollars in private overseas jet travel, including the Bahamas and Italy (where I understand there was a brief appearance in an NRA video).  A $4000/month apartment for a stunningly blonde “summer intern.”  But what got me was the clothing.  The Wall Street Journal reported:

“Wayne LaPierre billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe, and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents.”

I got curious about the clothing and learned both to my pride and my horror that Wayne and I wear the same brand of suits, the unpronounceable Ermenegildo Zegna (“ZAY-nyah”).  The only difference is that I paid for mine (actually, it was an extravagant Christmas gift from Karmen) for about the cost of a fine custom 1911 from a top maker.  You’ll see me in it essentially every day of SHOT, NRA, and NASGW for the next ten years (and probably for ten more years with patched elbows!)  I can afford to change my shirt and tie every day, but not the suit.

So, I was irritated to think that all the regular “end users” that populate the aisles of the NRA show, and who buy the products that keep our industry alive, are paying for the million-dollar exec’s luxury clothing.  Buy your own clothes, dude!  I don’t care if you have to look good on TV – Buy your own damn clothes from your own salary!

As an aside, I did rather well in my taxation classes in law school and recall vividly that under no circumstances is clothing considered a deductible business expense (safety gear and otherwise unusable uniforms aside).  Which makes me idly wonder if Wayne’s accountants are scurrying to file amended returns including the value of as taxable income as I presume one must – my “Zegna” was paid for with after-tax savings just like all your own clothes.

But it gets worse, much worse.

[ … ]

It turns out that blood is thicker than water.  Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors was founded by William A. Brewer III in 1984 and has just 15 attorneys listed on their website.  Doing the math, a $1.5 million monthly bill averages out to $100,000 per attorney, but of course we know that’s not how things work.

Then I learned from a cranky NRA member on Facebook why this small firm might have had an inside track to land the NRA’s plum case: Brewer’s father-in-law is CEO of Ack-Mack, the NRA’s high-dollar PR agency!  Again, I don’t fault the law firm for taking advantage of family ties, and they might well be the best choice for the case whose issues I haven’t even looked into and don’t yet have an opinion on.

But, I’m more worried if the NRA is making BIG decisions in the right way for the right reasons.  Did Wayne himself make the call to steer the eight-figure plum case to the kin of the company that jets him around the world and fills his closet with the finest suits?  Or did the Board make this call, fully informed of all the relationships and possible personal interests?  I hope the latter – maybe one of the 76 Directors can let me know.  Were other firms considered or was it just a remarkable coincidence that the best law firm in the nation to handle the matter was so closely related to the PR firm that received $40,000,000 from the NRA in 2017?  It may be that the law firm is handling more than the legal dispute – they tout PR capabilities so maybe are handling some of Ack-Mack’s duties – I’m only speculating and have no idea.

Sidebar: When the NRA gets its act together again can we please have it stop with the embarrassing and exploitative marketing tactics?  I have to assume that Carry Guard is a terrible insurance choice that exploits the fears of ignorant consumers, and that no sensible business person would opt for.  Same for the cozy relationship between the gold -hawkers on the NRA Magazine cover and taking up precious display space at the NRA Annual meeting exhibition hall – no investment advisor would dream of suggesting investing in rare gold coins.  Precious metals may have a place in a portfolio, but those guys in gold jackets make my skin crawl when I think of how naïve customers think they are making a good “investment.”

And it goes on, and on, and on, including donations to Hillary, and “last year to Beto O’Rourke in his race against stalwart Second Amendment supporter Ted Cruz (my Senator).   And maximum donations (over $10k) to Hillary in 2008 and before, and even to Al Franken.”

We all knew that it was bad with the NRA becoming so festering that the pimple simply needed to burst its puss before it could ever heal.  This analysis takes a deep dive into the puss.

But I do have one comment.  I’d rather have a good 1911 than a stitch of clothing any day.

Pete Brownell Stepping Down From NRA Board Of Directors

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 3 weeks ago

TTAG:

In the coming weeks, my company will be making exciting announcements about new opportunities that are important to the future success of our business. We look forward to sharing that news soon as possible. Given the hard work and full-time attention that will be needed as our brands continue to grow, I’ve decided to step down from my position on the NRA’s Board of Directors. It’s been an honor to serve the five million members of the NRA and I will continue standing side-by-side with the millions of Americans who care deeply about defending the Second Amendment.

That’s a rather innocuous statement.  I wonder if this is as presented, or if there is more afoot than he let on in the statement?  Is there some fiduciary responsibility or financial or legal liability associated with being a member of the board from which he is escaping?

I know my readers and I have discussed that before.  The other alternative is that this is a move of protest.


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