Change Has Come Quickly In Fairfax

Doug Hamlin was elected CEO and EVP of the NRA only yesterday but has hit the road running. Today, he announced that the positions of secretary and general counsel would be separated. As a result, John Frazer is no longer the General Counsel of the NRA. However, he will remain in the position of Secretary for which the Board elected him yesterday.

The new General Counsel is Michael Blaz. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1989. Blaz did his undergraduate work at Auburn University where he was a member of Phi Eta Sigma honor society. According to Martindale-Hubbell, Blaz is licensed to practice law in Virginia (1989) and the District of Columbia (1991).

Here is Hamlin’s announcement of the separation of the two positions and the appointment of Blaz as General Counsel.

Blaz had been the Assistant General Counsel before his promotion to General Counsel. I would also point out that Blaz has significantly more legal experience than Frazer who was only admitted to the bar in 2014.

The optics of a general counsel being found guilty of breach of fiduciary duties made it untenable to keep Frazer in that position. Hamlin has demonstrated he is working quickly to clean up the mess he was left at the NRA.

An Interesting Day In Dallas

This is going to be short post because I’m tired. I have been watching and corresponding about the events surrounding the Board of Directors meeting all day.

First, just the bare facts. Bob Barr representing the Old Guard did win the Presidency. The vote was 37-30. Then the surprises began. Bill Bachenberg from the reform slate went head to head with Blaine Wade for 1st VP and won 36-31. Following that, reformer Mark Vaughan, president of the Oklahoma Rifle Association, beat Tom King 35-31. King really represented the Old Guard and his defeat was a sea change in attitude on the Board.

Second, and what I consider the biggest surprise, Doug Hamlin, Executive Director of Publications and the reformer’s choice for EVP, beat Ronnie Barrett for EVP/CEO. There is some talk that Hamlin is intended as an interim choice while a nationwide search is conducted.

For a bare bones, just the facts ma’am report on what has happened so far, the NRA-ILA did a decent job. Here is a link to it.

A more in-depth report is from Stephen Gutowski of The Reload which has some comments from Jeff Knox.

The last I knew was that the meeting was still continuing after coming back from a dinner break. The keys going forward will be membership on the Nominating and Executive Committee. As I noted this morning, there were no reformers nominated for the Executive Committee. That must change.

I hope to have more tomorrow.

Ronnie Barrett For EVP?

I just got a copy of the Nominating Committee report. In addition to Bob Barr for President, Tom King and Blaine Wade are nominated as 1st and 2nd VP respectively. As rumored, David Coy was sacrificed.

The big surprise is Ronnie Barrett for EVP. I am sure the argument will be that he has the requisite business experience to run a large organization such as the NRA thanks to his history as CEO of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing. Now that he has sold that company to the Australians, he is free to take on other challenges. Not being in the room, we don’t know if he is being pitched as a temporary fix for the next couple of years or not. He is 70 years old so that might be the case. My objection to Barrett would revolve around him being a “Friend of Wayne” and it gives the anti’s more ammunition to accuse the NRA of just being a tool of the firearms industry. If the NRA was going to take a former CEO of a firearms company as the EVP, I think Mike Fifer of Ruger would have been a better choice.

I would also note that not one single reformer is nominated for the Executive Committee. It the Old Guard or the Cabal in its composition. I am a bit surprised that Marion Hammer was nominated for it as she had broken with the Cabal. Also, I see Joel Friedman who couldn’t even win the 76th Director position but only made it back to the Board by the resignation of Carl Rowan, Jr. is given a seat on it.

In other nominations, both John Frazer and Sonya Rowling keep their jobs with Bill Brewer’s guy Robert Mensinger joining as the Chief Compliance Officer. Seems like a good enough pick but he is tainted by association with Bill Brewer. As to Frazer, I perceive him as a nice – but weak – guy who is in over his head. In no other non-profit or corporation would the General Counsel still have the job after a jury found him guilty of violating his fiduciary duties and submitting false filings to a governmental agency. Rowling is, like Frazer, someone who in the end who will do what they are told. Witness the cutting of a check to Brewer’s law firm this weekend even though it devastates the NRA’s finances.

Here is the full report. Make your own decisions about it. In my opinion, it is a big FU to those who want change, those who want transparency, and those who think the members actually count.

Nominating-Committee-Report

An Apology Demanded Of Charles Cotton

This seems to be the night for letters!

Buz Mills, Bill Bachenburg, and Mark Vaughan are demanding that NRA President Charles Cotton issue a public apology to NRA Director Amanda Suffecool. This is for the unprofessional and unbecoming way he treated her at the NRA Meeting of Members on Saturday. At about the 31:25 minute mark of the second video in this post, Cotton challenges the statement from Amanda by saying, “you’ve been on the board, what a year”, as if that made her any less knowledgeable or competent. Amanda was, after all, an engineer for almost 40 years and knows of what she speaks.

Fortunately, the NRA members at the meeting were not having any of Cotton’s crap and booed him quite loudly. Now, the three directors mentioned above have sent out an open letter to all Board members demanding the aforementioned public apology. I could say more about what I think of Cotton as a person and as a supposed leader but I’ll save that for another day.

The full letter is below:

Board-Letter

An Open Letter From NRA Staffers To The Board

I received this open letter to the NRA Board within the last hour. It is reportedly from current and former NRA staffers who are fed up with Charles Cotton, Bill Brewer, and most of the upper management of the NRA. The level of detail in the letter is enough to convince me it is real such as Sonya Rowling being forced to cut a check to Brewer by Andrew Arulanadam. I learned of that just earlier this afternoon.

Here is the letter in its unedited entirety. Given it is an open letter, it is meant for sharing. You might want to share it with each and every Board member that you know. I know they sent it to the NRA email address for the Board but I doubt it will be routed to Board members before their 9am CDT meeting tomorrow in Dallas.

Dear NRA Board of Directors,

We are writing as current and former NRA staff members. We choose to remain anonymous due to the almost certain retaliation from NRA executives and the Brewer firm. Since 2018, our association has been in complete peril, and no one has asked the NRA’s staff for their input. We are the ones who work day in and day out to accomplish the NRA’s mission of promoting the safe and responsible use of firearms and defending the Second Amendment. Meanwhile, it has become clear that NRA’s executives and officers are focused on ensuring a steady revenue stream for the Brewer firm. We pose this question: When will we stop the bleeding, and when is enough, enough?

Over the past six years, the NRA has become unrecognizable. The NRA of 2018 is far different from the NRA of 2024, and this convention hall is proof. This deterioration is due to the NRA’s poor leadership. President Cotton, Andrew Arulanandam, Randy Kozuch, Tyler Schropp, Doug Hamlin, and Sonya Rowling have not, and arguably never have, acted in the best interest of NRA members. The NRA’s recent misfortunes are often blamed on the New York Attorney General. While we are no fans of Letitia James, 90% of the NRA’s issues are now self-inflicted. Yes, AG James has had a gun pointed at the NRA from the start of her campaign, but NRA’s leadership continues to hand her magazines with ammunition.

We will briefly discuss each leader, avoiding rehashing old issues.

President Cotton has overseen many of the NRA’s poor decisions over the years on the Audit Committee, the SLC, and as President. It’s time to change his title from president to king because he is acting as a monarch. King Charles has been positioning himself to become executive vice president and chief executive officer. Anyone familiar with his record at the NRA knows he is not the right fit for EVP. The new NRA EVP needs to be unapologetically pro-gun, innovative, politically connected, and experienced in turning around failing organizations. King Charles is not that person. His primary focus is on maintaining his relationship with the Brewer firm. Recent reports confirmed by the Brewer firm show that King Charles and Bill Brewer even fly on private jets together. The firm claims this saves the NRA money, but this is unlikely. While the firm may not directly bill the NRA for the jet, there is nothing to stop them from increasing their billable hours. This is reminiscent of the MMP yacht situation. King Charles and Bill Brewer are the only ones pushing for the move to Texas because they are both based there. No other staff member, including NRA’s Interim CEO Andrew Arulanandam, plans on moving to Texas. King Charles’s goal is to secure a high salary for a few years as his retirement fund.

Andrew Arulanandam cannot make a good decision to save his life. Since taking his position on February 1, the NRA has continued to decline. Arulanandam exists in his position solely to follow King Charles’s orders and maintain the relationship with the Brewer firm. In fact, Arulanandam reportedly forced Sonya Rowling to pay Brewer millions of dollars today before tomorrow’s board meeting. If King Charles becomes EVP, Arulanandam will be rewarded and return to his high-paying job as executive director of General Operations, with an updated salary and maximized pension at retirement.

Randy Kozuch has been consistently overlooked throughout his career at the NRA. Kozuch is not a leader, and most of the ILA staff don’t respect him. Kozuch is a yes-man. Shortly after becoming executive director of ILA, Wayne asked him for millions from the ILA budget to keep the NRA afloat. Kozuch complied, and his newly hired ILA Finance Director quit after the first week due to discomfort. This wasn’t the first time the NRA asked ILA for millions, and Kozuch complies every time. King Charles, Bill Brewer, and Arulanandam don’t respect Kozuch; he is just the perfect puppet to help pay off Brewer’s excessive bills.

The other executives are equally ineffective. Tyler Schropp, the highest-paid executive at the NRA, can barely raise money without Wayne. Doug Hamlin operates entirely in the red and doesn’t know how to run an organization. Sonya Rowling is only in her position because she is a “whistleblower,” which looked good for the Brewer firm to show a course correction. However, she is inexperienced and would run the organization into the ground without realizing it.

Finally, the Brewer firm is the most ineffective and corrupt part of the NRA. Bill Brewer excels at one thing: losing. He flaunts the money he has taken, pulling up to the hotel this weekend in an Aston Martin while losing consistently. And he is Angus McQueen’s son-in-law. The NRA has funded the McQueen/Brewer family feud for too long, at the expense of our members who faithfully support us.

Board members, when is enough, enough? You are the only ones who can stop this. Charles Cotton is not fit for EVP. Andrew Arulanandam is not fit for EVP. No one at the NRA is currently fit for EVP. The Texas move is a waste of money and unnecessary. The Brewer firm is ripping the NRA off for every dollar we have. The NRA is failing. Revenue is failing, membership numbers are falling, ILA’s power is a fraction of what it used to be, and other training organizations are outpacing us. It is so bad that NRA is liquidating investments to continue paying Brewer. We beg you, as you go into the meeting tomorrow, to stop the bleeding and hold Charles Cotton, Andrew Arulanandam, and the other officers accountable.

Save the National Rifle Association of America.

UPDATE: I was just sent what is purported to be the official portrait of NRA President Charles Cotton which will hang in the NRA headquarters building in Fairfax or Texas if they ever move.

The Alternative Slate Of Officers For NRA Leadership

We currently don’t know who the Nominating Committee plans to put up as their slate of officers. From what I understand, they have and are meeting in Executive Session. I understand Rocky Marshall tried to attend and was refused entry. Regardless, they will present a slate of officers to the Board of Directors at their meeting at 9am CDT tomorrow in Dallas. More than likely, anyone who reads this blog who is not a member of the Cabal will not like the proposed slate.

Since I am one of those evil “gun bloggers” who Charles Cotton said “turned against the NRA” (sic), I take great pleasure in presenting a flyer from the alternative slate of candidates. They include Buz Mills, Bill Bachenberg, and Mark Vaughan. I might have liked to seen one of the Four for Reform included but I do realize that the first job is to have a slate that those in the middle can support.

All I can say is that if they keep their promises that it will be a great improvement over the current leadership.

FILE_2723

Jim Wallace Elected 76th Director

Jim Wallace was elected as the 76th Director yesterday. His closest competitor was Joel Friedman who was the “official” candidate of leadership. This is further shows that reformers are gaining in strength as they coalesced to support Wallace.

By my count, a total of 740 votes were cast or approximately 1% of the total number who voted in the 2024 Board election.

The results:

The results of the in-person balloting have been received from our election auditing firm.

James L. Wallace has been elected by the members to a one-year term ending in 2025. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Wallace back to the Board.

The final vote tally is as follows:

  • James L. Wallace – 212
  • Joel Friedman – 142
  • Greer Johnson – 96
  • John C. Sigler – 87
  • Kim Rhode – 79
  • David A. Keene – 70
  • Antonio A. Hernandez – 28
  • Regina Roberts – 26

In another interesting development that I learned of this morning, Carl Rowan, Jr. resigned from the Board. His position will be filled by Joel Friedman who was the first runner-up in the 2024 Board election. Since the resignation came after the Meeting of Members, Friedman will only serve until the next Annual Meeting.

The NRA Meeting Of Members – Part 2

I have been sent a couple of videos taken from the Meeting of Members yesterday. Both are from the debate over moving NRA headquarters from Fairfax, Virginia to the Dallas, Texas area.

The first video is of Rob Pincus raising questions about the move including who authored the resolution. A friend who was there described Rob as being like a dog with a bone in forcing the admission that the resolution was drafted by 2nd VP David Coy.

The second video is by David Yamane who recorded the full debate on the move to Texas resolution. It runs for about 33 minutes but is well worth a look in order to get the feel for how Cotton and the Cabal lost control and the members plus reform-minded Directors took it.

It will be interesting to see if the reformers can translate this win into success on Monday in the Board meeting. Fingers crossed!

The NRA Meeting Of Members – Part 1

The NRA Meeting of Members was one for the history books. For the first time in recent memory, you had sitting Directors speaking out in opposition to the leadership. Though President Charles Cotton tried to control the meeting including putting a hard stop time limit on it in an effort to limit debate, it was evident by the end that control had passed to the members.

I regret somewhat that I could not be there in person to witness it. However, there have been some great reports on it from Twitter as well as a couple of videos that have since been posted.

Stephen Gutowski of The Reload did a great job tweeting from the meeting. Here are some of his reports from X or Twitter.

It was the resolution phase of the meeting where things started to go awry for the Cabal. Bearing in mind there was a hard stop to the meeting, they started with a resolution praising President Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX). While nice, it was an effort to run the clock out and not let any of the resolutions that were critical of the NRA or its leadership to be heard. (I have seen multiple resolutions that were intended to introduced that condemned Charles Cotton and his leadership.) They then moved on to what they assumed was going to be a resolution that in Texas would just sail through. The Cabal asked the members to approve a resolution approving moving NRA Headquarters to Texas.

Here is a blow by blow when Stephen’s tweet are rolled together.

There’s now a resolution to move the NRA’s headquarters to Texas. Leadership really wants to do this even though it would have no impact on the New York case. I honestly don’t know what significant benefit this would have for the NRA. 

A member asks what kind of fiscal impact a move from Virginia to Texas given the severe drop in revenue the NRA has experienced recently. NRA president Cotton claims it would be less expensive to operate in Texas. He says Texas has a lot of big companies, too. 

The member wants more specific details on the actual cost of the move. Cotton refers to Arulanandam for that. Arulanandam says the NRA’s current headquarters is too big for the 60 or so staff that actually go in on a regular basis. 

Arulanandam claims the current NRA building is also expensive to maintain. He also says people in Virginia don’t want to work for the NRA. So, he thinks Texas will be a better job pool. Cotton calls Virginia “DC south.” Sounds like an outright retreat from Virginia. Remarkable. 

Arulanandam claims selling naming rights for the new Texas buildings will cover the costs of moving. However, he’s not giving any concrete numbers. The member who asked about it isn’t satisfied with the responses. He wants hard numbers. 

NRA board member William Bachenberg gets up and claims the board hasn’t been given hard numbers on the cost of the mov either. He claims one estimate is $80 million. He also says they can’t sell naming rights for museum exhibits because they were previously sold. 

Cotton is now attacking Bachenberg directly. He says he is wrong and hasn’t been active on the board for years. 

NRA board member Jay Printz gets up and attacks Bachenberg, too. He has been an attack dog for leadership since the corruption scandal first erupted at the 2019 meeting. He jokes that he’s well known for cursing out the opposition. 

Rob Pincus, who was one of those opposition members back in 2019, gets up to speak against the Texas move. Or, at least, moving right now. 

I’m definitely getting some deja vu from the 2019 NRA members meeting. It’s not as roudy, but it’s very similar. 

NRA board member Maria Heil is now speaking in opposition to th Texas move as well. You’re seeing a lot more board members speak out against what leadership wants that usual. That’s very interesting. 

NRA board member Amanda Suffecool is now also speaking against the Texas move resolution. 

Cotton gets loud boos when he insinuates that Suffecool isn’t in a position to understand what’s going on with the move because she’s only been on the board for a year. The biggest reaction so far. 

The resolution to move to Texas is put to a vote. It fails. There was a big laugh when Cotton initially said who couldn’t tell which side won because it was pretty clear. 

And that is where the meeting essentially ended thanks to the Cotton-imposed hard stop.

Just a few comments with my impressions on the meeting. First, attacking gun blogs is ridiculous. I don’t know any gun blogger who doesn’t want the NRA to be more than it has been in the fight for 2A rights. If we have been critical of the NRA, it is because the corruption has impaired the never-ending fight with the gun prohibitionists. Second, Andrew Arulanadam suggesting “naming rights” for a NRA building in Texas would pay for the move is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. To even suggest it is to insult our intelligence. Third, seeing Directors standing up to the Cabal was wonderful. Finally, Cotton attacking Amanda Suffecool was a big mistake and the members present let him know it with their boos.

Not Willing To Be The Fall Guy For Barr

Bruce Widener, an NRA Board member, who was involved when the Bob Barr negligent discharge took place has refused to be the fall guy for him. I wrote about this negligent discharge earlier this week when discussing the two camps heading into the NRA Annual Meeting. He has since written an email about the incident and wishes it to go public.

At the time of the incident, Mr. Widener said he had removed the magazine but hadn’t checked the chamber. This made it seem like he had failed in his duty to make sure the weapon was safe and that Barr was unknowingly handling a loaded firearm. However, that was not the real story as the email that Mr. Widener has asked be made public makes clear.

After reading the email one is left wondering why Bill Brewer has such an interest in making sure that Bob Barr is the next NRA President. Is there a quid pro quo in effect saying I’ll protect you if you guarantee that I am retained as outside counsel to the NRA? Has the Cabal assured Brewer that he will be kept on and he can keep billing at his astronomic rates until such time as the NRA is out of money? I can understand Barr wanting it swept under the rug as he violated multiple rules of gun safety any which way you look at it.

Here is the email Mr. Widener sent out on it on Thursday evening. Read it in its entirety misspellings and all.

From: Bruce Widener <bruce.nra@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 16, 2024 20:25

Subject: The facts re: bob barr

The facts:

8th draft. 

Before sending this out please let me know so you have the latest version. 

This is the first time I have written a detailed report of what exactly happened in 2002 with the incident involving Congressman Bob Barr.  I’m telling this now because it has become an issue in his election effort for president of the NRA.  It all started when I became aware of the email that was sent out recently with copies of the articles about the incident. 

I saw Mr Barr in person in Atlanta and said that I had received an email that had been sent to various NRA board members which contained many of the articles about the incident. Mr Barr said that he had not  seen it and asked that I send it to him.  I then hand delivered a note to him marked ‘personal and confidential. For your eyes only’! Instead of talking to me about the note, Mr Barr must have given it to his/NRA’s attorney, Bill Brewer, who called me to talk about it.  He knew about everything in the note. After we talked by phone He called again and wanted to talk to me in Dallas.  Ashley and I then met with Mr Brewer .  Since Mr Barr on obviously doesn’t want to talk to me, he asked his attorney to talk to me about it then I feel I am free to go public and tell the whole story with all of the details to whoever wants to hear it. Here is what actually happened!!

In 2002, my wife, Ashley, and I had a fundraiser at my house for congressman Bob Barr (who was a sitting congressman and on the NRA board at the time) and was showing him my gun collection. 

I would take pistols out of my safe, remove the magazines and pull the slides back to check the chamber to make sure they were unloaded and safe. 

As I turned my back to say something to my son, Congressman Barr took a pistol out of my safe that I kept loaded in the event that it is needed and he pulled the trigger firing a bullet out a glass door which ricocheted under my wife’s new Lexus!

I actually thought he had shot me in the back! I kept feeling my back and looking for blood. When I turned to face Mr barr he said ‘Oh my’. I said ‘oh shit’! He later aid he was sorry and asked if he could pay for the damages to the door.  

The next day I asked my son if he has seen the spent shell casing? He told me the Congressman had picked it up!

This soon hit all the national news outlets!

Congressman Barr’s campaign attorney called me that day and TOLD me ‘this is what we are going to say! That

I had pulled the magazine out but had not checked the chamber to make sure the pistol was unloaded!! When we were handing the pistol ‘someone’ hit the trigger!

I was never asked what really happened and what I might want to say about it!! From this information all the articles in the various papers were written!

I refused to talk to the media !

22 yrs. ago when this happened, I was a young lobbyist and Mr Barr I was a sitting congressman.  My reputation as a gun person kkwas not nearly as important as his as a US Congressman and an NRA Board member.

I agreed to say things that we both knew were not true. 

Now my reputation and my legacy are at risk and being damaged AND it is much more important to me now as a member of the NRA board. The news articles make me look awfully bad.   I ALWAYS check the chamber and remove the magazines to make sure guns are unloaded and safe which is the key point of the articles.

They had said it was a hundred year old .38 caliber Colt. Actually it was a 1908  .380!

These are the facts which can be verified by son Dr. Douglas B. Widener and my sister and her husband, Mr and Mrs Jack Malott!