Tombstone, Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Letitia James, the NRA-hating Attorney General of New York, would turn out to be the NRA’s savior, but that’s how things are stacking up at this point.
The “leaders” of the NRA Board of Directors made it clear during the Members’ Meeting on Saturday that anyone criticizing Wayne LaPierre is just a hateful hater spewing hate and trying to tear down the NRA, and should be ignored and ostracized.
The full Board, or at least the 62 (out of 76) Directors who bothered to attend the Monday board meeting, reinforced that message with a resounding vote to reelect LaPierre, 54 to 1, with 7 abstentions.
This was probably the NRA board’s last chance to send a message to the New York judge who is going to rule on Letitia James’ lawsuit against the Association, to let him know that the whole organization isn’t corrupt or willfully blind to the failings of their long-time Executive Vice President and his closest allies. Instead, the Board sent the exact opposite message, inviting the judge to replace the entire Board at the same time that he removes LaPierre and NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer, and installs an overseer to reorganize the 151-year old organization. I expect to see all of that ordered in early 2023 when this case finally gets to trial.
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I have no doubt that the NRA will immediately appeal when the judge rules in favor of James – which is a foregone conclusion, based on the overwhelming evidence that’s readily available – and many Directors will claim to their dying day that the whole thing was a politically-motivated sham, made up by us hateful haters. They’ll just keep shoveling more and more millions of dollars into the pockets of Bill Brewer, their carpetbagging New York lawyer now based in Texas who is on record as contributing to Hillary Clinton and “Beto” O’Rourke, as long as there’s money available – which might not be much longer.
The evidence of corruption is overwhelming and easily accessed through the transcripts of the NRA’s failed bankruptcy case. I’m frankly surprised that the NY AG’s office hasn’t expanded their list of named defendants in the case to include more, if not most, members of the Board, but perhaps that will come after the case moves into the discovery phase later this year when details on payments from Wayne’s special “Consultant Fund,” to members of the Board and various other “friends of Wayne” come out into the open.
One thing I want to make clear: I don’t personally believe that Wayne was actively & intentionally engaged in straight-up embezzlement.
But it is apparent that he created an environment where corruption flourished. I think there’s a good chance that Woody Phillips, Wayne’s hand-picked Treasurer for over 26 years, might have been engaged in that sort of brazen criminal activity, just as he allegedly did at his previous employer. And I think it’s pretty clear that Woody was also using NRA money to enrich and endear himself to some of his friends and close associates.
It was Wayne’s responsibility, along with the members of the Audit Committee, to have caught that and put a stop to it, but they never did. It also appears that Wayne’s hand-picked deputy, Josh Powell, deliberately padded his expense accounts and snagged money wherever and however he could, while making a mess of virtually everything he touched, and mistreating NRA employees and contractors in the process.
Again Wayne or other NRA “leaders” failed to take timely corrective action. In other words, they failed to do their jobs – a job LaPierre was paid handsomely to fail at. It seems that Wayne was more patsy than criminal. Used by unscrupulous money-grubbers who convinced him that this, that, or some other scheme, was a great idea. That these would be a feather in his cap, a boon for the NRA, a fundraising gold mine, etc.. And that it was only fair and reasonable that the folks putting the deals together should receive some reward. Wayne should also benefit personally from the deals, as everyone knows that Wayne is the “hardest working man in Washington,” and owed way more than the $1.8 million he’s currently being paid…
In short, I think Wayne was – and is – a tool, who was good at schmoozing and making rich guys feel important and generous, and who let scoundrels prosper at the NRA’s expense, while they made sure he was always getting a hefty cut of the spoils. He was sloppy and cavalier about his fiduciary responsibilities to the Association, and unwilling to see the corruption among his “friends” and associates, especially when he and his wife were personally benefiting in the process.
I don’t hate Wayne, and I certainly don’t hate the NRA. I’ve spent some 40 years trying to help make the NRA more responsive, efficient, and effective. I don’t begrudge anyone for receiving reasonable pay for good work, and I understand that good and conscientious men can disagree on the best course of action in the face of political threats. I firmly believe in the proverb of iron sharpening iron, and while I won’t try to claim that there’s no personal animosity between myself and some of the folks at the top of the NRA, I try hard to keep things away from personal feelings and stay focused on verifiable facts.
I definitely don’t think it right or appropriate for the CEO of a nonprofit organization like the NRA, to beg for $20 or $100 donations from average Americans, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck or are on a fixed income, while that CEO is being paid over a million dollars per year – or anything close to that. LaPierre’s $1.8 million dollars per year breaks down to about $34,000 per week, or $150,000 per month – over 4 times what the President of the United States is paid. Meanwhile, the NRA routinely sends out fundraising letters over LaPierre’s signature, breathlessly warning about the rising threats to gun rights, and begging members to dig deep and send $20, $50, $100, or whatever they can afford…
I find that repugnant.
I believe the events of this past weekend have sealed the NRA’s fate. I see no chance of avoiding a loss in the New York lawsuit, and I’m just thankful that the judge in the case appears to be fair and reasonable. I believe he will rule in favor of Letitia James and New York, and will remove those in control of the NRA, probably with at least some hefty fines, if not the full restitution that James is calling for. I believe the judge will place the association under the auspices of a caretaker manager tasked with reorganization for the benefit of the members.
While the NRA will undoubtedly appeal (unless they really go bankrupt first or negotiate some sort of settlement – which I think is highly unlikely) and they will call for the judge’s orders to be stayed during the appeal. I believe it is unlikely that the judge will allow the current “leadership” to remain in control of the Association and its assets for a minute longer than he must.
My big fear is that NRA members and donors will dry up when all of this happens. Some out of anger that they were duped, and others out of doubt that the appointed manager will guide the Association in the right direction. So I hope the Judge can find a manager that NRA members will respect, or that he’ll include a person or panel to advise the manager on ideological matters and provide reassurance to the members, that the Association is returning to its core principles. There is a chance that under the appointed manager NRA’s political activities could be held to a minimum, if not prohibited altogether, which is another concern.
No matter what happens next, the NRA has a long and difficult road ahead, and it’s anyone’s bet as to whether the organization will ever be the strong beacon of liberty that it ought to be. The lawsuit is supposed to enter the discovery phase by the end of the year and go to trial by early next year, so until then, there’s little that anyone can do to impact the Association’s future, other than to pray for the best possible outcome.
My efforts will continue to focus on building The Firearms Coalition and fighting the gun control that will inevitably grow out of the recent horrors in Buffalo and Uvalde.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona, and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.