Interesting Article in Non-Profit Quarterly

From the story:

In the NRA’s story, we can see reflections of some of the patterns exhibited at the Wounded Warrior Project. Success, public support, and leadership excesses offended donors and created a backlash that eventually ended in a nearly clean sweep of leadership, but not before it suffered deep and long-lasting damage to its donor base. Like Wounded Warrior, the NRA is conducting an internal investigation and trying to offload responsibility for the scandal onto what it characterizes as organizational “haters.”

There does seem to be a parallel, except for the Board’s unwillingness to jettison Wayne. Someone asked in the comments what the proper means of redress was, which I think is a fair question.

Really, you need to win elections. When you try to upend the status quo and fail, in an organization like NRA, you need to put people on the Board who back your position. For me that goes back to an earlier post I did talking about how NRA needs a sensible reform movement.

Winning elections is hard, and NRA’s Board is huge. But it’s not impossible to win an election by petition, especially if the membership is angry and wants change, and the alternative is palatable.

From my point of view, the current backlash against Wayne looks to be instigated because he stopped toeing the line vis-a-vis NRA’s PR firm. I will readily concede that probably happened because the NRA ran out of Danegeld, and not because Wayne suddenly had a crisis of conscience.

Maybe that’s all carefully orchestrated kabuki theather, and I’m a dupe. I’m sure many of you believe that. But that’s how it looks to me. I think the focus on payments to Brewer’s firm is because he’s sucking up money that could be used to buy more shitty YouTube videos no one watches. Is he sucking up too much money? I’m open to the answer being “yes.”

I would follow a movement to reform NRA that distanced itself from North and a lot of these other players I don’t trust. I don’t know Allen West. I have met Tim Knight before, and he seemed like a straight player. But we need more of that.

Politician Believe in Being Reelected

Kirsten Gillibrand now says she never really believe in the 2nd Amendment.

Now that she’s being called out for her hypocrisy, the presidential hopeful is spinning the policy shift as a “simple mistake.”  “I didn’t do the right thing,” Gillibrand told CNN‘s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” Wednesday. “I mean, I think someone who can’t recognize when they’re wrong is far more concerning if you can never admit when you’re wrong. And not only was I wrong, and not only should I have cared more about gun violence in other parts of my state or other parts of my country, I just didn’t.”

It’s easy. When she was a Congresswoman from upstate New York, it was beneficial to her politically to be pro-gun. When she became Senator of New York, it was beneficial for her to be anti-gun. What politicians never want to admit is that their views are fungible depending on political expedience. It goes back to the old Groucho line: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

Even your favorite politician who tells you how much he loves the Second Amendment, in most cases, is telling you that because it’s politically expedient. Our great task is to make it politically expedient. There are true believers out there, but they are rare.

The Key Questions

So it turns out that people who have hated NRA and/or Wayne LaPierre for years… you might want to sit down for this, as it’s a shocking revelation… still hate NRA and Wayne LaPierre. So if I seem a little tired of this, that’s why.

There are no good guys in any of this, I’m increasingly convinced. But here’s the key issues as I see it:

  • Why did Pete Brownell step down and make way for Ollie North? North wasn’t in line for President.
  • What was North’s angle in all of this? The problem in this whole thing is I don’t trust any of the players.
  • Was Ack-Mac trying to peddle influence on the Board to shore up its position for the the post-Wayne era, which is coming soon (he’s 70, half a decade past typical retirement age) whether or not the Board’s circled wagons succeed in fending off the Indians.
  • Why did Wayne’s expenses go through Ackerman-McQueen instead of NRA?
  • Why are Bill Brewer’s legal fees so high? I’ve had attorney friends tell me the fees do indeed look high, but not out of the realm of possibility for handling several pieces of complex federal litigation.

I agree NRA needs to hire an independent auditor to get to the bottom of some of these questions. But understand that if they do, none of us are ever going to see the results. Because the purpose of an external auditor is to tell you what you’re doing wrong off-the-record before a real auditor shows up and it counts.

I’m a lot less concerned about the travel and clothes, other than if they went through the PR firm to conceal them from auditing.

But it’s pretty clear the Board isn’t prepared to remove Wayne, so those wanting to depose him have more work to do. There’s a way to handle these things, and leaking shit to our enemies isn’t one of them. This is not new. Anyone who’s been following the Trace’s (admittedly good) journalism on this issue for any time knows someone or someones have been leaking shit to them for a while. Who? And Why?

I’d be a lot more willing to join a movement to push Wayne along to retirement if I could be convinced that the movement is realistic, focused on improving NRA, and isn’t just settling old scores and trying to drive NRA to a disastrous hard-line position.

I Will Not Help Ack-Mac Destroy NRA

A lot of people are sending me this letter from Allan West. Carolyn Meadows has responded to it:

It is unfortunate that certain board members have resorted to making false and misleading public statements about proceedings of the NRA board of directors. As those board members know, we are not at liberty to discuss the particulars of the board of directors meeting that occurred in executive session on April 29. However, every board member was afforded the opportunity to speak openly about any issues of concern to them. To suggest otherwise is dishonorable.

During the meeting in question, the board had a healthy discussion where the issues that are being reported upon now were vetted and discussed. Beyond that, every board member was invited to attend committee meetings where legal, financial, regulatory, and business issues are thoroughly addressed. The NRA has an office of the general counsel, and separate independent outside counsel to represent the board of directors. In sum, there is no excuse for any board member to claim they are unaware of legal and business concerns being addressed by this Association.

It shocks the conscience to read that certain board members have apparently not kept themselves updated, informed and active on matters that are of interest to our 5 million members. They have an open invitation to get more actively involved — and to join the conversation in an appropriate way, as is provided for in our Bylaws.

In closing, it occurs to us that board members ‘voicing’ concern may have been part of a failed attempt to oust Wayne LaPierre as CEO and Executive Vice President of the NRA prior to the board meeting in Indianapolis. In fact, we were all warned that a scorched earth campaign would ensure unless Wayne moved to withdraw the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen and walked away from the NRA. Wayne chose the principled path — and did neither. He will continue to press for full transparency from all vendors, even the ones that employ Col. North and others.

Fact — when the board met, Wayne was unanimously voted to continue his leadership role of the Association. Anyone could have run against him, or any one of us for that matter or even called for a roll call vote. They chose not to do so.

We should end this petty bickering immediately. Now is the time for the NRA to return to its core mission: representing our members and defending the conditional freedoms of America.

Emphasis is mine. Wayne cheerleading aside, it’s been apparent to me that this is a follow through on that threat, and while I think Wayne should have retired after the 2016 election, I don’t know that Wayne stepping aside now wouldn’t intensify the current crisis or start a whole new one on top of it. If NRA is committed to ridding itself of Ack-Mac, right now that is enough for me. It’s apparent to me that the parasite is willing to kill the host if it’s going to be excised.

I’m no great fan of Wayne’s, and I think he’s got a lot to answer for, but if it’s Wayne or Ack-Mac, I know which side I’m taking.

Latest Revelations Within NRA

A bunch of fresh revelations. Many are wondering what Wayne is doing flying charter, which, as you can see, is horrendously expensive. However, I’d encourage everyone to look at the dates on this. It’s immediately after Sandy Hook.

I’m not really believing Wayne was off cavorting in the Bahamas on vacation just a few weeks after Sandy Hook. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were looking to get out of dodge and find some place to meet that would be hard for the press and opponents to get to. The media would have been able to track a commercial flight Wayne was spotted on, and if you’ve ever been to a business meeting of any size, you’ll have venue staff servicing the meeting, and staff can be paid to talk and spy. So I would not be so quick to say these couldn’t have possibly been legit business trips.

I also fully believe these revelations are Ack-Mac following through on threats if NRA didn’t keep flushing millions of dollars down them. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see Wayne retire and get some younger blood in the EVP’s office. But I’m also not going to help them burn NRA to the ground. I think if Wayne retired, it would help put this behind us. But I’m not going to get too bent out of shape over his having a lot of travel expenses, even for flying charter, immediately after Sandy Hook.

Independent Auditing

Battleswarm Blog thinks:

The fact that the New Yorker is hostile to gun rights and the NRA shouldn’t blind us to the fact that there are very real financial oversight issues that need to be addressed, and the NRA audit committee isn’t far enough away from those problems to address them. The NRA board should bring an outside audit team from one of the big five accounting forms with expertise in nonprofits to do a full, forensic audit of NRA finances going back at least five years.

I would endorse that idea. I’d be wary of anyone in any kind of non-profit that balked at the idea of an independent auditor. But just because its sensible doesn’t mean it will happen. I’ve seen a lot of sensible things fall by the wayside in a non-profit and we don’t have to deal with paid staff who also have opinions, and have a lot more time and incentive to manipulate things to come out in their favor. I’m not holding my breath. Even if it does happen, it’ll probably be kept internal.

The Kids are Alright

Students walk out of a vigil that seemed more a political rally than remembering their classmate who was murdered.

More than 2,000 attended the vigil at STEM School Highlands Ranch High School, as STEM School Highlands Ranch students burst into a spontaneous demonstration, protesting politics and the media.

Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Jason Crow spoke urged support for gun control legislation, prompting students in the crowd to shout out dissenting comments such as “political stunt” and “we are people, not a statement” – to applause.

Good for you guys. It’s a natural instinct to politicize tragedy. But there’s doing that, and then there’s hijacking a student body that should be given space to mourn for political purposes. The latter is disgusting, and I’m happy to see backlash. Don’t let them shut you up kids. Keep fighting.

Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if NRA had organized a vigil and pushed arming teachers? Think they’d get a pass from the media?

They Don’t Have to Ban Guns

Just pass this and wait. The shooting sports will be gone in a generation. No need to ban firearms at all. Hunting is on the decline anyway. No harm in exempting that, less the Fudds realize what you’re really doing. They aren’t passing it onto their kids anyway, so what do they care?

The goal is not public safety. It’s sticking it to the flyover rubes and showing them who’s boss.

This is Probably the Ack-Mac Contingent Following Up on Their Threat

Wayne’s extravagance is the new story in the media after the Board members who had dealings with the PR firm were ousted. I don’t feel sorry for Wayne. He invited this on himself by doing stuff like this in the first place. Why were expenses being funneled through Ack-Mac? I can’t see any legit reason for that other than keeping them off NRA’s books. Lie with dogs and don’t be surprised when you get fleas.

But my overriding goal is getting through New York State’s assault on the NRA and excising the parasite PR firm. Everything else is small potatoes. If Wayne wants to say ten Hail Marys and agree to sin no more that’s fine. If Letitia James wants to remove him for his sins, the organization will go on. The great irony in that would be that she’d probably save us a lot of needless infighting. But the most important thing is that the organization go on.

While We Were Busy With Good Old Fashioned Infighting …

the Courts have issued some favorable rulings. The big one is the Supreme Court ruling that New York isn’t getting out of their lawsuit just because they made a token gesture at changing their law. Paul Clement responded on behalf of NYSRPA:

Even now, the respondents insist that the transport ban promotes public safety, but in a nakedly transparent effort to evade this Court’s review, respondents have commenced an administrative rule making to reconsider the ban. Although that process was only recently initiated, and respondents have not yet received any of the public comments they have solicited, respondents make the extraordinary request that this Court stay any further briefing in this case. That request is radically premature and should be denied in all events.

It appears the Supreme Court agreed.

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