The Year Without Petition Candidates

I had to submit a new request for NRA bylaws because I realized two major issues:

  1. I can’t figure out exactly who will be on the board (assuming write-in candidates don’t win) after this election. So I went to check my copy of the bylaws of the NRA.
  2. In checking the bylaws, I realized that the Board can unilaterally change how certain board members are elected and appointed without any notice to the membership.

What? That seems…problematic given the history that’s been well on display in their current legal fiascos.

I’ll be honest, I don’t realize how I never noticed it. Though, unless you’re on a bylaws committee charged with reviewing every little detail and seeing how it all works together, it’s easy to miss because it’s only something disclosed via font & format, not by direct statement. I do realize that they cleaned this section up in the bylaws provisions I did support, but the provision was there long before 2017 and did not change in any meaningful way. Supporting the bylaw amendments in 2017 didn’t change that they’ve been able to do this for a while.

So, a most recently passed bylaws copy has been requested and should be on its way – assuming Kathy the chat bot monitor actually did what was requested. Given how much I had to support “her” in the request after so long waiting for any response at all, I’m not overwhelmingly confident.

It would be interesting if they are trying to put up roadblocks to sending members documents they are entitled to receive because when I used the Membership Services links to request the report of the Committee on Elections, they spent a couple of weeks sending my requests through unrelated divisions.

Given the number of problems I’ve witnessed with departments at NRA in collapse, there’s just as much chance it’s incompetence as malice. But, given what I’m asking for directly relates to information needed to challenge the powers that made this bed, the latter can’t be taken off of the table. Neither answer is good for the state of the association.

But back to the Board – who will even be on the board next month? That’s what I wanted to know.

To figure that out, we have to try and figure out who is on the board today – which isn’t the same list published in the most recent official journal.

Why isn’t the most accurate list of Board members much help? You might think it’s because of the significant number of resignations, and that’s part of it. But it’s also because people who have been appointed to fill certain seats are only allowed to serve until Annual Meeting weekend. For all of the recent NRA board resignations that happened after ballots were printed (and more rumored possible forthcoming resignations), they will require another appointment until the next election cycle.

However, the bylaws the Directors cannot change without the members say they can only pull from the most recent election’s losers. That’s a problem for the NRA board and how little they actually thought about the situation they were facing.

See, they have 0 petition candidates and the Nominating Committee’s infinite wisdom only selected 30 candidates for what they assumed would be 25 seats. I’m sure they patted themselves on the back super proud of not needing more candidates since they didn’t need to beat down petition candidates this time. (They didn’t give those candidates enough time to collect petitions, even though the election timeline they used to cut that off wasn’t ever realistic – I have my doubts it was done in good faith. I don’t assume most things done by the board are done in good faith after some recent discussions.)

Now if they have 30 candidates for 25 seats, what’s the problem? Math and corruption are their problems.

See, two of those 30 bowed out before the ballot was even printed around the time of the bankruptcy fiasco and disclosure of how ridiculously poorly that was handled. Now we’re down to 28, only three to spare.

And, barring that I find out from new bylaws that they’ve changed things, the 76th director candidates must be chosen from the losers of the current election. That means one of those people needs to be sacrificed to the 1 year term which leaves just two losers to place elsewhere. (Yes, I’m having fun referring to failed candidates as losers because I could see this general issue coming. I just didn’t think it would be this soon because I didn’t think they were this out of touch.)

Now, assuming that the nominated Buz Mills is still popular – he came in 14th of 25 the last time he ran – he likely wins a seat this year. Except Buz has resigned after ballots were out the door and largely returned. Which means he gets a placeholder in the rest of August through early September and then will have to “resign” or decline to accept the position again after the election results are released. Which means his seat needs to be filled by appointment from losing candidates. That leaves one spare loser.

Oh, except the appointments to take over Ted Nugent’s seat for another year and Susan Howard’s seat for the same period. Two seats, but only one available board loser.

In fact, if the rumor mill pans out that there are additional resignations hitting the organization in the next few weeks, then they may have multiple seats they are completely unable to fill because no qualified person fits the bylaw requirement that they be losers from the recent election.

Quorum means they don’t require all 76 directors. They only need 25 to operate. So they can keep pulling these kinds of stunts for a while and not be required to seat anyone who disagrees with Wayne.

What about the write-in candidates? Do they count as losing candidates for such appointments to serve out part of a vacant term?

I don’t know enough about what standards might apply here from New York or other legal standards with non-profits similar to NRA. I don’t see anything addressing any threshold for them to be counted as “losing candidates” eligible to be asked to serve in the bylaws.

What is disturbing about this unknown is that NRA has historically declined to make available the list of eligible members who received write-in votes. Which means that if these folks do count as losers who can be tapped, we as members will likely never be told who they are or their vote tallies. It won’t be possible to track who the next person to serve will be if we don’t know vote totals for all write-in candidates.

And since the Wayne-loyalists have a couple of weeks since hearing of the recent departures to round up people who haven’t voted yet to submit new write-ins, they have time to get their numbers up over Frank Tait and Rocky Marshall. If the board members dedicated to preserving their power decide to just name their allies as the next “winners,” we members have no history to compare against to know what might be normal showing versus what might be a bit out of the norm.

Regardless of what stunts could be attempted with write-ins, NRA finds itself in new territory once again – and just like nearly everything else of the last few years, not in a good territory. And, continuing our theme of how much current leaders are responsible, it’s 100% their own doing. These issues have been brewing, but they opted to put the screws on petition candidates with impossible deadlines to minimize their threat from challengers rather than put energy into planning for a future with a full board.

We’re not able to attend this year due to work obligations, but would someone who does attend (assuming it doesn’t end up cancelled due to the Texas virus situation) take photos for me of how they end up up billing the 76th director vote? It seems there’s a good chance they are going into it knowing there may not be a good way to fill the seats for the first 75.