Bitter explains why we did not choose George Kollitides as one of our endorsed candidates. I don’t know of any issues with Kollitides that make me think he’d be a bad board member, but I also don’t understand what he’s bringing to the table either. I suspect he will win a board seat, and maybe he’ll impress. Bitter’s comments on Kollitides and a few other suggestions for Board of Directors are below the fold.
Some people may wonder just why Sebastian and I chose not to get on the “everyone’s doing it” bandwagon of endorsing George Kollitides for the NRA Board. Let me explain my reasons.
But first, let me say that I have nothing against the guy. I’m sure he is a very nice person, and just suddenly joining the gun industry as quickly and deeply as Cerberus Capital Management has, I’m sure he’s gotten quite the exposure to the issue.
There, I already broke the first rule of endorsing George Kollitides, I said Cerberus. Cerberus. Cerberus. Cerberus. (It’s like Beetlejuice. Say it three times, and I bet they start tracking this blog…)
Understandably, Cerberus is trying to brand their firearms companies under a new name: Freedom Group, Inc. I’m sure they’ve probably conducted a poll that finds gun owners are not the types who are thrilled with a private group taking $4 billion in tax dollars to bailout one of the worst investments: Chrysler. This would be the same firm that decided to take out full-page ads in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the tune of $400K+ thanking taxpayers for giving up their hard earned dough to continue supporting a dying company. Ultimately, this doesn’t have anything to do with George Kollitides the NRA Board nominee, but I’m saying it in the interest of full disclosure since I have a history of calling out PR campaigns for what they are.
My concern with Kollitides is what he would bring to the Board. So far, I haven’t seen anything that indicates he’d be a particularly noteworthy candidate. AR15.com says that because he’s involved with a company that makes EBRs, he’ll push for their prominence within NRA. First, I would ask if this is really a concern since NRA has fought every effort to renew an “assault weapons” ban that’s come up. Is there really some way in which NRA is selling EBR owners short? Second, if it does exist, what would George Kollitides do to stop such behavior?
I tend to doubt that the folks over at AR15.com have talked to him about this issue. If they have, and they posted an interview or anything like that, feel free to link it. However, my experience, when I pursued the idea of NRA member bloggers doing a short interview with him about his board run through someone trusted in the gun world, was that Cerberus has a policy of no interviews ever. So given that response, I tend to doubt they snagged any kind of real Q&A that would address exactly what he would do to address shortcomings at NRA in regards to EBRs.
My only experience with George Kollitides is non-experience. See, most committees at NRA have a handful of non-board members appointed to them. Kollitides sits on the Hunting, Wildlife, and Conservation Committee. The last time they met at the September 2008 board meeting, Kollitides was not there. Committee members are flown to DC, put up in the Westin during their stay, and fed on NRA’s dime. Is it really that hard to show up once? Given that it’s the only track record I’ve observed, I think it’s fair to question if groups endorsing him are actually endorsing yet another empty seat on the board.
Now, I know that this is probably useless since he’s got the biggest EBR forum pushing for him, has all of the company websites advertising for him, bought space in NRA magazines to run ads and articles promoting him, and recently joined more pro-gun groups after his loss last year. With that kind of PR splash, he will probably win a seat.
However, I think it’s important that voting members actually know and understand their NRA. While Kollitides may in fact be a great board member, I have yet to see any argument or evidence that he brings something unique and tangible to the table over other candidates. If he can show use what he brings to the table, then I might be convinced he’s worth endorsing. Until then, I think my questions and concerns about uncertainty as to what engaged NRA members get with him in the seat are perfectly reasonable.
If you want industry expertise and a demonstrated, public record for standing up for gun rights, then I suggest you vote for Ronnie Barrett. Besides, he was actually willing to talk to bloggers last year when he ended up at the same bar as our Blog Bash opening night reception by chance.
In the meantime, there are even other non-endorsed candidates who I believe, based on my experience and what I’ve heard from those who have been to many board meetings over the years, would make sure that the seat doesn’t grow cold from lack of engagement. In no particular order, there’s John Burtt of Fifty-Caliber Institute, Bill Bachenberg who is active with the NRA Foundation, Herb Lanford who has been praised widely for his work with clubs & associations, Wayne Anthony Ross who, as I recall, broke with NRA to endorse Sarah Palin in her run for Governor when they had to endorse the incumbent, or Robert Sanders who has received accolades from folks who follow the Civil Rights Defense Fund committee.
10 Responses to “Our Take on George Kollitides for NRA Board”
- SayUncle » More NRA Board Stuff - [...] Also, bitter gives a non-endorsement. [...]
- Snowflakes in Hell » Blog Archive » NRA Board Election Update - [...] I also think is a good candidate. I’m officially neutral on the matter of Kollitides, but we have not ...