I have compiled endorsements for the NRA Board of Directors for the past several years and I don’t intend to break with tradition this year.
This year there are 26 director slots open as well as a significant change in the NRA’s bylaws. If you are a Life Member or an annual member of five years with no breaks in membership you are eligible to vote in this election. You should have received your ballot bound in your magazine within the last two weeks. Ballots must be received by the accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche by April 9th in order to be counted.
With a membership of around five million and an estimated 500,000 Life Members, the average number of votes cast annually is in the 75-80,000 range. This is disappointing. While I think the Board of Directors is about 50 members or more too large to be effective, not voting will only cede more power to the paid staff. If we want to have any impact on the direction of the NRA, we who are eligible MUST vote. Moreover, while you may vote for up to 26 candidates, this works to the advantage of the celebrities and the old guard hanger’s on endorsed by the nominating committee. As Jeff Knox explains, if you want your vote to have some impact vote for one or two but no more than five candidates.
David Codrea has endorsed Stephen Stamboulieh and only him for the Board. David considers Stamboulieh to be a no-compromise candidate based upon his positions regarding the NFA, the Hughes Amendment, and other issues. Stamboulieh has also garnered the endorsement of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society for his legal work in 2A battles there even though he is based in Mississippi. In an earlier column, David has also come out against the bylaw changes as it makes it even harder for a petition candidate to get on the ballot.
Dave Hardy has this to say about these three candidates.
Curtis Jenkins. A very good fellow. He spent 16 years in the Georgia House of Reps, with a continuous A+ rating from NRA, and authored the nation’s first bill protecting firearm manufacturers against harassing lawsuits. He is an incumbent, and serves on the Legislative Policy, Legal Affairs, and Finance Committees, plus the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund. He’s also an NRA Certified Rifle and Shotgun Instructor.
Charles Cotton. Incumbent, and serves on the Legal Affairs and Bylaws and Resolutions Committees, plus the Civil Rights Defense Fund. Operates several pro-gun websites, and active in the Texas State Rifle Association.
Patricia Clark. Incumbent, serves on the NRA Airgun, Youth Programs, Finance, Smallbore Rifle, Competitions Rules and Programs, and Silhouette Committees. Received the Sybil Ludington Freedom Award for promotion youth shooting. She’s pretty much indispensable to the competitions and youth aspects of the organization.
He also mentioned Heidi Washington who is the daughter of the late NRA President Tom Washington and is head of the Michigan Department of Corrections. Dave does endorse the bylaw changes in a separate post but I would encourage you to read the comments on this post.
Lt. Col. Robert Brown and Soldier of Fortune have their annual endorsements up. Their number one endorsement is for Steve Schreiner of Englewood, Colorado. Soldier of Fortune also endorses the following:
1. Thomas P. Arvas Albuquerque, New Mexico
2. John Cushman Patchogue, New York
3. Curtis S. Jenkins Forsyth, Georgia
4. Sean Maloney Liberty Township, Ohio
5. Linda Walker Newark, Ohio
6. Heidi Washington East Lansing, Michigan
Knife Rights does not usually make endorsements for the NRA Board but they have made an exception this year due to three of the candidates either being on their own Board of Directors, Advisory Board, or a celebrity supporter.
Todd J. Rathner is Knife Rights’ Director of Legislative Affairs–our lobbyist. He has been instrumental in our outstanding legislative success to date, totaling 22 pro-knife laws enacted in 15 states and 6 anti-knife bills defeated.
Todd’s efforts in bringing Knife Rights’ issues to the attention of the NRA Board and staff has been invaluable and it is certainly in our best interests to see him continue in this role. Beyond that, he works tirelessly in support of the Second Amendment.
Graham Hill is the Chairman of the NRA Legislative Policy and Federal Affairs Committees and is an advisor to Knife Rights on legislative issues in Congress.
His comprehensive understanding of, and insights into, what makes Congress tick and how to get things done on The Hill are extremely helpful to the NRA and to Knife Rights, particularly as we work to pass the Knife Owners’ Protection Act including repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act (H.R. 84).
Graham’s dedication to the Second Amendment is second to none and he deserves your vote.
R. Lee (The Gunny) Ermey has been a very vocal supporter of Knife Rights and takes every opportunity to promote Knife Rights as he travels the country making celebrity appearances. We very much appreciate The Gunny’s active support for Knife Rights and a Sharper Future for all Americans as well as his unwavering commitment to defending the Second Amendment.
Knife Rights encourages our members who are also NRA voting members to vote for Todd, Graham and The Gunny and reminds you that NRA Board Election ballots must be received by the NRA no later than April 9, 2017.
SilencerCo on their blog endorsed Todd Rathner, Melanie Pepper, and Graham Hill. They recognized Rathner for the role he played in getting Arizona’s constitutional carry law passed and the role he continues to play in getting suppressors legal for hunting in numerous state. Pepper was endorsed for the recognition she has received for her work in hunting, conservation, and on the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Forum. Finally, Hill was endorsed due to his work on both the Legislative Policy and Federal Affairs Committees which he chairs. Additionally, Hill is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Suppressor Association and is President and CEO of the Fifty Caliber Institute.
The Hawaii Rifle Association not surprisingly has endorsed Lt. Col. Willes Lee for the Board. He is a resident of Hawaii and is the former Chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party. Lee was recently appointed to the Board of Directors to fill a vacant spot.
The Hawaii Rifle Association is delighted to fully endorse Mr. Willes K. Lee for a position on the Board of Directors in the upcoming election cycle.
We have worked with Willes for many years now to protect our precious Second Amendment. He has assisted us with fighting anti-gun bills as well as helping to win pro-gun legislation and to elect pro-gun legislators to pursue those goals.
Mr. Lee has also worked with us to promote the shooting sports in Hawaii and to strengthen the youth shooting opportunities here, such as our high school shooting teams and the FNRA Banquets that support those teams each year. Willes has been fully responsible for bringing in NRA presidents David Keane, Jim Porter, and Allan Cors to our Hawaii events.
I consider the endorsements by Jeff Knox and the Firearms Coalition to be probably the most important here and the ones that I take most seriously. Jeff’s father Neal was one of the architects of the Cincinnati Revolt and was the first head of the NRA-ILA. The Knox family involvement in NRA affairs dates back well over 40 years. Jeff’s take on the bylaw changes is that it solidifies the status quo of staff dominance over the Board and makes it harder for changes to come from the grassroots.
On the changes and his endorsements of Sean Maloney, Graham Hill, and Adam Kraut, Jeff writes:
In 1977 a group of members and renegade Board members, upset by the NRA’s reluctance to fulfill its duties in the political arena, and the closed electoral system that made change all but impossible, staged a member revolt at the Annual Meeting of Members in Cincinnati. Operating under the bylaws and not-for-profit law, a dedicated group of members, including Neal Knox, moved a slate of bylaw changes that reorganized the organization’s structure and created a petition process to get access to the ballot. The members, angry over a proposal by NRA brass to move the headquarters out of Washington, were primed to join the rebellion. The meeting lasted from 10 in the morning Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday morning, and culminated with my father nominating and the members electing Harlon Carter as the new executive vice president.
In subsequent years, those member-empowering bylaw amendments have been chipped away. Each strike of the chisel was made with assurances that the latest change would “protect the Cincinnati reforms.” The current proposal pretty much completes the job of protecting the Cincinnati reforms right out of existence.
When Dad wrote the current standard, he set the petition threshold at 250 voting members. That number was deemed achievable for someone like a local club president who wanted to take a hand in NRA affairs as a Board member. In this Internet age, gathering 250 qualified signatures has become somewhat easier, but setting the bar at anything higher than about 500 would take the process out of reach of but the most prominent members.
The Board proposes setting a threshold at 0.5 percent of the voters in the past year’s election. The new threshold will be around that acceptable 500 number, but that’s only true as long as less than 6 percent of eligible members cast ballots. If turnout were to go up to just 8 percent, the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot would go up to close to 900 – beyond the reach of an average member.
As an Endowment Life Member of the NRA who has been very active in NRA politics for almost four decades, I’m very troubled by the key provisions of this bylaw change proposal, and I am urging all voting members to vote “No” on this proposal. While some of the proposed changes are mostly cosmetic, and others seem logical, the overall effect of the proposed changes is to take power away from the members, and this is an all-or-nothing proposition. You can’t get the good without also accepting the bad – and that’s unacceptable.
If you are an NRA member, I urge you to take a look in your February 2017 issue of your NRA magazine to see if there is a voting package bound into the middle of it. If there is, go to the back of the package where you will find two ballots and an envelope. One ballot is for voting on the Board of Directors, the other is for voting on the proposed bylaw amendments.
For the Board of Directors election, I am recommending people vote only for the following three candidates, and no others: Sean Maloney, Adam Kraut and Graham Hill. There are others on the ballot who are good, but they don’t need our help.
Whether you vote in the Director election or not, be sure to completely fill in the circle next to the word “No” on the bylaw ballot, put it in the envelope, sign it, and drop it in the mail.
“As the NRA goes, so go our gun rights.” My dad first penned those words more than 30 years ago when the NRA was embroiled in another of its internal struggles. The NRA management likes to think that a placid, compliant NRA is good for gun rights. That is not true. The organization was born out of strife and is at its best when there is tension. For its leaders to relax into complacent incumbency will not yield an NRA that is willing to press the strategic advantage we have now, nor dig in and fight the hard battles that will come when the political pendulum moves the other way.
Finally, I am not going to tell you who to vote for in this Board election. However, I would say to vote for workhorses over celebrity show horses. There are two people for whom I won’t be voting and here is my rationale. First, there is Howard J. “Walt” Walter of Flat Rock, North Carolina. Mr. Walter lives in an adjacent county to me and is a long-time member of the Board who is supported by the Nominating Committee for re-election. In years gone by, I would run into him at the Asheville Rifle and Pistol Club meetings when I still belonged. His blurb says in part:
Media spokesman/debater on Second Amendment issues. Supported lawsuit protection for gun manufacturers, opposed reauthorization of Clinton gun ban. Political strategist/consultant for pro-gun candidates. Worked with senatorial/congressional candidates. Experienced lobbyist, helped pass concealed carry and shooting range protection legislation.
If Mr. Walter has done all that he says he has done for the Second Amendment, he sure has been quiet about it. He certainly hasn’t been in the fight to repeal the pistol purchase permit, he wasn’t in the fight for passage of the Castle Doctrine, and about the only thing I’ve seen with his name on it in the last 15 or more years is one letter to the editor. Resting on your past laurels is not what we need on the Board of Directors.
The other person for whom I won’t be voting is N. Stephanie Spika. We interviewed her last spring on the Polite Society Podcast and all of us came away singularly unimpressed. All we heard were platitudes of how she would work with staff to bring in younger activists. We had the feeling that her aim on being elected to the Board was more about padding her resume than anything else. Make of that what you will.
With that, I’m going to close. I’m sure that there are many more endorsements out there. I would urge you to study them as well as the ones above closely. If you are eligible to vote, then do so.
UPDATE: I filled out my ballot and bylaw vote today. It will go in the mail tomorrow with a Charlton Heston forever stamp on it.