Jason Ouimet, the NRA-ILA’s Director of Federal Affairs, has been named the interim head of NRA-ILA. The news was first leaked in a story by Danny Hakim in the New York Times who seems to be the go-to guy for NRA leaks. It was later confirmed in a series of tweets by Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon as well as in a memo sent out to all NRA employees.
TO: All NRA Employees
FROM: Wayne LaPierre
Executive Vice President
DATE: July 2, 2019
SUBJECT: Appointment of Interim Executive Director of NRA-ILA
I am pleased to announce Jason Ouimet’s appointment as Interim Executive Director of NRA-ILA.
As many of you know, Jason – a 14 year NRA veteran, – currently serves as our Director of Federal Affairs, a position he has held since January 2015. Jason rose through the ranks after being hired as a federal lobbyist in 2005 and then being promoted to Deputy Director at NRA-ILA Federal five years later.
Jason has a strong legislative and campaign background. On Capitol Hill, Jason was a legislative assistant for former Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) where he was responsible for oversight of significant issues like taxes, Homeland Security appropriations, transportation, small business, Social Security, welfare, science & technology, government affairs, Commerce Justice State appropriations and pensions. He also served as Staff Director of the Life Insurance Caucus of which Senator Chambliss was a co-chair.
Prior to working on Senator Chambliss’ personal staff, Jason held the position of Senior Research Analyst at the National Republican Senatorial Committee working on projects for key Senate races. Jason began his career in 1999 as a Junior Analyst with the Republican National Committee where he conducted field research in Florida, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania for President George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.
Jason is a graduate of Kent State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree in 1999.
Jason is an experienced government affairs professional and a skilled political strategist. He is committed to our noble cause and I know that he will do very well.
Please join me in congratulating Jason.
From what I understand, Ouimet is both well-liked and well-respected within the NRA-ILA. It is rumored that there may be a search committee to find a permanent head of ILA but hopes are that Ouimet would be the leading candidate.
The appointment of an interim head of NRA-ILA shores things up a bit there. That said, it should not be forgotten that NRA-ILA serves two purposes: lobbying and campaigns. The appointment of Ouimet satisfies the first criteria but fails to fill the huge hole left by the ouster of Chris Cox. Over a period of 24 years, Cox had developed a series of relationships with SuperPACs, PACs, 527s, and other campaign organization as well as a deft touch in coordinating expenditures where it would be most useful in the election of pro-gun – or at least not anti-gun – candidates.
One has to wonder if the triumvirate of Wayne, William Brewer, and the NRA officers took any of that into consideration when they forced the ouster of Cox. Brewer probably didn’t give a damn, the officers were clueless, and it seems all Wayne could see was a potential competitor to his position.
Others in the political world are seeing it very clearly. An article published this morning in Politico reports that both the Trump campaign and the Republicans are worried about the NRA’s “meltdown” just before 2020.
Greg Keller who is the former executive director of the American Conservative Union said:
“No organization has been more important to conservative voter education and engagement than the NRA. We all hope they’re able to mount the kind of effort in the 2020 cycle they have in the past,” said Gregg Keller, a former American Conservative Union executive director. “But in case they can’t, given their current situation, I hope they’re being forthright about that within the movement so others can pick up the slack.”
“The situation,” he added, “has folks nervous.”
Steven Law, head of Mitch McConnell’s SuperPAC, said this about the departure of Chris Cox.
Concerns over the NRA intensified last week after the resignation of Chris Cox, who had been the head of its lobbying arm since 2002. Cox was well-liked by NRA staff and board members and had deep relationships with major donors and many of the party’s top strategists. He recently participated in 2020 planning meetings with the pro-Trump America First Action super PAC and the anti-tax Club for Growth. The groups discussed polling and opposition research, voter registration efforts, and ensuring smooth coordination.
With Cox gone, it’s an open question who will oversee the NRA’s 2020 strategy.
“Chris Cox is the guy everybody dealt with,” said Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely aligned with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Wayne LaPierre’s legacy will be as the guy who caused us to lose gun rights in order to preserve his perks if the Republicans fail to hold on to at least one House of Congress and the Presidency. His paranoia and arrogance caused him to listen to the wrong guy and we are all suffering as a result.