By tradition, Willes Lee should have been the next President of the NRA. Instead, Charles Cotton was given a third term and Willes was replaced as 1st Vice President by Bob Barr. As one might imagine, this did not sit well with Willes. He had been a loyal supporter of the existing regime within the NRA for four years as 1st and 2nd Vice President, had served as the attack dog for the powers that be, had supported the abortive bankruptcy filing as a member of the Special Litigation Committee, and the list goes on. Not only had he been blindsided by the move to keep Cotton as President for a third term but he only found out he was being ousted as an officer when the Nominating Committee report was slipped under his door.
Since his ouster, Willes has take to social media to give his side of the story as well as make teasing remarks about what really was going on. His posts have appeared on Facebook, X as Twitter is now called, and Instagram. I, like others such as NRA In Danger, have been following his posts on an almost daily basis. It was like watching a train wreck and you can’t look away.
You know who else was following his posts on Facebook? The New York Attorney General’s Office and now they want to know more. Yesterday, they filed a motion to compel the “post-note of issue supplemental deposition” of him. The motion makes note of his Facebook postings and how they seem to be at odds with his prior testimony before the US Bankruptcy Court and in his deposition in the New York case. Alexander Mendelson, Assistant Attorney General (of New York), argues that “unusual and unanticipated circumstances” allow a supplemental deposition even though the time for deposition of witnesses has nominally closed. The circumstances that Mendelson refers to are Willes’ Facebook posts and his ouster as an officer. It is argued that this supplemental deposition can be done before the beginning of the trial and this would be better than wasting time on an exhaustive cross-examination during the trial itself.451625_2020_People_of_the_State_of_v_People_of_the_State_of_MEMORANDUM_OF_LAW_2149
Mendelson supports this motion with 20 exhibits including past testimony and the deposition by Willes, a compilation of his Facebook posts, an affidavit by the Attorney General’s IT professional who downloaded the posts, and a series of emails between the attorneys. It appears that from reading these emails that the only objections come from the attorneys for John Frazer and Woody Phillips. Interestingly, the NRA’s lawyers from Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, have not objected. Moreover, given Willes is still a board member they will accept the subpoena on his behalf as well as represent him.
If Judge Cohen approves this motion and I have no reason to believe he won’t, it is going to get interesting. For example, you have Willes complaining about being left off of committees while at the same testifying in his deposition that it was OK for Tim Knight, Esther Schneider, and Sean Maloney to be excluded. Moreover, given the numerous posts complaining about Charles Cotton and David Coy and their roles as heads of the Audit and Finance Committees, you can be sure that his questioners are going to be digging deeper. I just wonder how much that the NRA’s attorneys will be able to prevent from being on the record.
There is a great lesson here for all of us. Don’t put stuff out on social media and expect it to stay private. What you say there lives forever and it will come back to bite you at the worst possible time. As for Willes who normally has multiple daily posts on Facebook, Instagram, and X, he has gone silent since yesterday. Frankly, I’m glad he hasn’t been silent in the past as his comments will force the truth to come to light.