Since my post yesterday on Marion Hammer’s letter to the NRA-EVP search committee, I’ve received a copy of Charles Cotton’s announcement of the search committee and have spoken with others including a former board member.
Two hours before Marion Hammer’s email went out, NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer sent this to the entire Board of Directors:
Dear Fellow NRA Board Members:
At the request of several NRA board members, during our last board meeting in January, I noted that we would soon form a search committee to assist with the recruiting and placement of a new EVP and CEO of the National Rifle Association of America.
In accordance with NRA Bylaws, I am pleased to announce the creation of this select committee, the EVP Search Committee. This Committee is charged with determining the process and timing of the selection of appropriate candidates to present to the Nominating Committee and, ultimately, the full Board of Directors.
The members of the EVP Search Committee are:
Congressman Bob Barr – Chairman
Professor David Coy
Carol Frampton, Esq.
Curtis Jenkins, Esq.
Sheriff Jay Printz
Chief Blaine Wade
Please join me in expressing our gratitude to our fellow Board Members for their dedication to the NRA and their willingness to serve in this important role.
Charles L. Cotton
Two things stand out in Cotton’s letter. First, this committee will control the process and timing of the selection of candidates for the permanent CEO and Executive VP position. Second, any person or persons selected will go to the Nominating Committee before being presented to the Board of Directors. In other words, while officially the Board selects the EVP, the Nominating Committee will select the actual candidate and present the Board with a fait accompli.
This committee is a selection of people that will represent the interests of what I call the Old Guard or my friend calls “the cabal”. You have David Coy who failed in his fiduciary duties as a member of the Audit Committee. We might not have a trial in New York if he and others had done their job properly. You have Jay Printz who, at least through last September, was a stout defender of Wayne LaPierre. You have Barbara Rumpel whose primary connection to the Second Amendment seems to be as a “Friend of Susan”. None of these people are change agents.
Reevaluating Marion’s email to this committee barely two hours after it was announced, it is evident that she is telling them that NRA staff such as Interim EVP Andrew Arulanadam and CFO Sonya Rowling are non-starters as candidates for the permanent EVP position. When she says, “reach out to Board members for information and advice”, she means listen to her and the Old Guard or Cabal on what constitutes an acceptable candidate. Her call to be “transparent” with the Board doesn’t really mean transparency for all but rather the committee should report each and every move to her and the Old Guard before they actually make it.
Going back to Marion’s original call for a search committee, in retrospect she was not calling out Charles Cotton but rather telling him what she and the Old Guard wanted. She wanted a search committee comprised of Board members responsive to the Old Guard. She was providing cover for Cotton to seemingly be responsive to the call for a search committee while keeping it under his and the Old Guard’s tight grip.
Contrast this with what was suggested by Buz Mills. He called for a search committee of Board members with business experience selected from the floor by the BOD. This group would then use the services of an outside executive search agency to recruit, evaluate, and screen suitable candidates. In other words, they would find people capable of running a large non-profit whose values were consistent with fighting for Second Amendment rights. This might be someone like a Mike Fifer who ran Sturm, Ruger for many years as CEO. The search committee would then present the candidates to the Board for a “meet and greet”. I have seen this many times in academia when a new dean or college president is being selected. You will notice there is not mention of interference by the Nominating Committee in the process. The Board as a whole would discuss the candidates and then vote on them. This would take it out of the hands of the Old Guard or Cabal and put it in the hands of the entire Board.
I don’t know the timetable for a selection. Would it be in time for the next Board meeting? Or would a candidate be selected before Judge Cohen could impose a special monitor assuming the jury finds the NRA failed in its duties to its members? Speed would be in the interest of Charles Cotton and the Cabal. Speed, like this whole committee, would not be in the interests of the members of the NRA. That would be served by the Buz Mills’ model of finding a new EVP.
To throw one more wrinkle into this, given the precarious state of the NRA’s finances it may be up to a bankruptcy judge to make the decision on an interim basis. You have to ask why did former President Trump make his speech at the Great American Outdoor Show instead of at the Annual Meeting in May. I’m sure Mr. Trump would not want to be making his speech to the NRA faithful while the organization was in the midst of a bankruptcy trial.