Josh Powell And NRA Have Split

While it was reported yesterday that Josh Powell was on administrative leave from the NRA, it now appears that their employment relationship has been severed. The initial report was based upon court filings by Ackerman McQueen in Alexandria Circuit Court.

Newsweek is reporting that an email was sent this evening to the members of the Board of Directors informing them that Powell was gone.

From Newsweek:

However, according to an internal email obtained by Newsweek, Powell has departed the NRA entirely.

It was not clear whether Powell was fired or if he resigned. The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The email clarifying the nature of Powell’s departure was sent to the board of directors Saturday evening by the NRA’s general counsel John Frazer.

“Several directors have reported receiving media queries regarding Josh Powell and his employment status with the Association,” he wrote. “For the sake of clarity, we note that Josh is no longer employed by the NRA.”

In noting the sensitivity of discussing personnel matters, Frazer made reference to “the assortment of pending and threatened litigation” facing the gun-rights group.

The Newsweek article also raised a question that someone asked me on Twitter this evening: how did Ackerman McQueen know or find out that Powell had been placed on leave?

Save the Second raised some interesting questions regarding the termination of Powell’s employment with the NRA.

From their Facebook post:

 1. Why, specifically?

2. Was this a move against Wayne’s wishes/protection?

3. Was there an insultingly generous severance package to add insult to injury after his disastrous tenure as an overpaid executive that didn’t seem to do anything right?

4. Will the problems he and his decisions/appointments caused in the NRA’s Education & Training Division be undone ?

Given that it will be classified as a personnel matter, I think the whys and wherefores of his termination may never be fully known. Moreover, unless either Wayne or one of his inner circle talks, we won’t know the answer to number 2.

We may have to wait until the Meeting of Members at the Annual Meeting in Nashville to find out if any severance package has been paid. If then.

Only time will tell if the problems Powell caused in Education and Training will be solved.

Hat Tip: Save the Second for the Newsweek article

AckMac Court Filing Noting Josh Powell’s Administrative Leave

Below is the Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant’s Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Provide Meaningful and Supplemental Answers to Interrogatories. This was filed on January 23rd by attorneys for Ackerman McQueen in their legal battle with the National Rifle Association. It covers both the first and second lawsuit filed by the NRA against AckMac in City of Alexandria Circuit Court.

This is where we first learned the Wayne LaPierre’s Chief of Staff Josh Powell was on Administrative Leave. As far as I know, it had not been public knowledge before that.

There is a lot of legalese in these pages but a scan through them does give the reader a sense of the battle between the two former allies.

There is also the amusing line of Q&A indicating that Wayne was upset that someone at AckMac told the Wall Street Journal his grandniece had drawn on the walls of The Four Seasons with crayons.

2020.01.22_Ack MTC Rog Responses by jpr9954 on Scribd

Hat Tip – Beth for the document

The Divorce Gets Uglier

The divorce between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen is ugly and is getting uglier. The NRA’s reply to Ackerman McQueen’s reply and counter-claim was filed with the US District Court on Friday. There were a number of news stories yesterday that excerpted parts of the reply with regard to NRATV and its characterization by the NRA as “distasteful” and “racist“.

The reply brought attention to an episode of NRATV featuring Dana Loesch in which she portrayed Thomas the Tank Engine in a KKK hooded robe.

From page 3 of the reply:

As AMc’s bills grew ever larger, NRATV’s messaging strayed from the Second Amendment to themes which some NRA leaders found distasteful and racist. One particularly damaging segment featured children’s cartoon characters adorned in Ku Klux Klan hoods. Unfortunately, attempts by the NRA to “rein in” AMc and its messaging were met with responses from AMc that ranged from evasive to hostile. At the same time, when NRA executives sought performance metrics for NRATV, AMc contrived a pretext to demand that each interlocutor be sidelined or fired. Simultaneously, in closed-door meetings with Mr. LaPierre (which AMc insisted remain “confidential”), the agency presented fabricated and inflated sponsorship and viewership claims. The simple request for the number of “unique visitors” to the site was not answered, despite multiple attempts by Mr. LaPierre and other NRA executives. In fact, AMc’s representations to the NRA leadership regarding the viewership for the digital platform it created, presented, and administered were, by 2017, intentionally (and wildly) misleading. Tellingly, when NRATV finally shut down in June 2019, no one missed it: not a single sponsor or viewer even called, confirming what at least some NRA executives suspected—the site had limited visibility and was failing the accomplish any of its goals.

Ackerman McQueen fired back today on the “distasteful” and “racist” claims in the NRA’s court filing. Like yesterday’s press release, the gloves are off and AckMac is taking no prisoners.

Ackerman McQueen recognized and handled the offensive imagery on the show, “Relentless”, in a proper fashion, like any media company would. We identified those responsible and put new processes and oversight in place. NRA executives acknowledged the corrective action taken by Ackerman McQueen, were satisfied with the response and a couple months later, renewed NRATV for 2019.

However, if the NRA wants to conduct a public conversation about distasteful and racist, they should consider their systematic behavior. This is the same executive leadership team and Board of Directors that refused to address the Philandro Castile tragedy. This the executive leadership team that put their heads in the sand every time a board member said something the could be perceived as distasteful or racist. This is the same executive team and Board of Directors that ignored, and didn’t even watch, the impactful programming that the NOIR team produced, telling important stories on minority issues. There are countless more examples, decisions and comments that plague the organization and will be a part of AMc’s defense.

As AMc said in its latest filing, Wayne LaPierre defrauded Ackerman McQueen. When AMc representatives discovered what he, his executive team as well as the Board of Directors were really doing, and AMc refused to have any part of it, the cabal that is left at the NRA retaliated. Now they want to blame anyone else for the people they actually are.

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AckMac Goes Nuclear On NRA

The NRA filed suit against Ackerman McQueen and some of their employees in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas at the end of August. Ackerman McQueen responded to the lawsuit on October 1st with a counter-claim and added a third party complaint naming Wayne LaPierre. On Friday, the NRA filed an amended complaint. I will get to each of these in a separate post.

Thanks to Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon, we have the press release sent out by AckMac in response to the amended complaint. It takes no prisoners. After saying that Wayne LaPierre defrauded AckMac many times as they declared in their court filing, they go on to say, in part:

LaPierre controlled every aspect of NRATV for which he recruited talent, approved every budget, audited every metric and required ultimate confidentiality. Ackerman McQueen routinely offered and toward the end of the relationship demanded an outside firm audit NRATV performance but LaPierre refused. Unlike the NRA, AMc welcomes full transparency. LaPierre’s apparent paranoia and lust for secrecy fed his justification for private air travel, luxury hotels and countless other expenses for himself, his family and friends that were all paid by member dues.

The membership is being misled. The NRA is pouring tens of millions of non-profit funds into lawyers and lawsuits to cover up the abject failure of executive and board leadership. They continue to contrive allegations that they are not currently proving and will continue to not be able to prove in any legal setting. Instead they grovel at the feet of the media they used to decry, hoping to create some spin for Wayne LaPierre.

The latest NRA legal filing is another cynical attempt to distract from Wayne LaPierre’s documented mismanagement of the organization and the captive board’s complicit behavior. These collective failures are the only reason the NRA faces multiple state attorneys general investigations, a US Senate Finance Committee investigation, calls for the IRS and FBI to investigate, a class-action lawsuit and countless legal disputes filed by the NRA intended to intimidate anyone who opposes LaPierre’s reported misuse of NRA resources.

Damn!

Given that AckMac helped build the image of Wayne LaPierre from the 1990s onwards, I suspect they know more about Wayne than most do or want to know. If we needed any more proof that the symbiotic relationship between Wayne and AckMac is over, we now have it.

The Pincus Deposition – Video Excerpt

As was mentioned in yesterday’s post on the Rob Pincus’ deposition in the NRA v Ackerman McQueen case, it was explicitly acknowledged that Rob was not properly served and that he appeared voluntarily. In the video below you can hear the objections of the attorneys for AckMac to the deposition including the fact that it was delivered to a location in New Jersey where he had not lived for years. You will also hear the fact that Rob explicitly acknowledges he is appearing voluntarily when asked by the attorney from the Brewer firm Michael Collins.

Thanks to Rob for providing this video excerpt of the deposition.

UPDATE: Rob has released a second video excerpt of his deposition. In the video below, he explains how he first came across the documents that purportedly were “leaked”. It was on Facebook on a page where he didn’t even know who managed the page. You can’t get any more public domain than that!

Save the Second has a long post on their website with more details on how Rob spent Friday.

The Pincus Deposition

Earlier in June, it was revealed that a number of people had been subpoenaed in the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen. While most of those who received a subpoena were NRA Board of Director members, trainer and activist Rob Pincus was also served. Ostensibly, the subpoenas were to find out who leaked information such as the bills from Ackerman McQueen regarding Wayne LaPierre’s clothing purchases, Oliver North and Richard Childress’ letter regarding outside counsel William Brewer III, and other such information.

Yesterday, Rob gave his deposition in the case to attorneys representing both the NRA and Ackerman McQueen.

He noted this on Facebook about his testimony in the deposition yesterday.

As I’ve said many times, I wasn’t involved in any “leaks” and I don’t know who was. Now that is part of the court record… officially. After consider time, effort and expense.

The NRA sent a team of lawyers from VA & TX and hired a local videographer and court reporter.
They sent them to one of the most remote locations in the Continental US and rented the town hall for the proceedings.
I walked over with my daughter and she hung out with the local pre-schoolers and a friend while the deposition took place.

I had offered to provide the documents that revealed pretty clearly when I first encountered the (already public) documents and save everyone a lot of time and money. The NRA Attorney’s wanted to do this today. Ackerman’s attorneys attended via phone line and video feed.

The location was Silverton, population 630, which is the county seat of San Juan County, Colorado. In other words, it was a long way from the big city. Or even any city.

Rob was gracious enough this morning to spend 20 minutes on the phone with me providing an after-action report. We discussed a number of things in the conversation including the why of the subpoena, what he thought they were trying to find, the cost to him, the monetary costs incurred by the NRA ‘s lawyers, and more.

The deposition took five hours, two attorneys for the NRA, a court reporter who had to travel from Denver, a videographer from Durango, and an expensive video conference hook-up so that the Ackerman McQueen attorneys could participate. Rob estimated that the costs ran upwards of $20,000 before you begin to figure in the attorneys’ billable hours. It was also very needless as Rob had made a good faith offer to provide all documentation and a sworn statement on what he knew. This offer was rejected by the lawyers representing the NRA.

As Rob travels often, the date could have been adjusted so that the deposition could have taken place in a more convenient and more cost effective location for the NRA and AckMac. The attorneys for AckMac noted in the meeting for the deposition that there was no reason to rush the process as it was early in discovery and no trial date had been set. Nonetheless, the lawyers for the NRA were insistent that the deposition be taken on June 28th as it appears they were more interested in speed. Rob believes that they were more interested in finding “the leak” than they were in the case itself.

The attorneys for the NRA, Robert Cox of Briglia Hundley and Michael J. Collins of Brewer Attorneys, admitted that Rob had not been properly served with the subpoena. As such, he appeared voluntarily at this deposition. In his opinion, the subpoena itself was an abuse of the discovery process meant as a fishing expedition and was meant to intimidate Rob as he has been a vocal critic of Wayne and the “Old Guard”.

I asked Rob about the costs to him both financially and emotionally. The financial costs were the distraction from his training and other businesses plus the lost productivity. The emotional costs were much higher. He had heard horror stories from friends about what to expect so he was very wary going into the deposition. Rob found that a number of people who had been talking with him before the subpoena suddenly stopped post-subpoena. Fortunately, he found the deposition “went far better than it could have with the lawyers” as they were professional, polite, and focused on the issues.

Rob wanted the following things highlighted.

  1. The deposition established nothing was leaked to Rob, nothing was stolen, and that everything he as received was in the public domain.
  2. He appeared voluntarily. As noted above, he was not properly served.
  3. He had nothing to hide.
  4. While subpoenaed by the attorneys for the NRA, he was critical of both sides in the case. 
Rob has told me that he will have video excerpts on the deposition available later today. I will post them as they become available.
I want to thank Rob again for taking the time out of his morning and out of his time with Baby Pincus to talk with me about the deposition.

Report On The NRA V. Ackerman McQueen Hearing Today

Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon attended the court hearing today in Alexandra, Virginia in the case of NRA v. Ackerman McQueen. He reported on the case is a series of tweets on Twitter. The whole thread is here.

However, a couple of things just jumped out at me.

Wait a minute! You mean to tell me that William Brewer III, the probable architect of the entire series of lawsuits against Ackerman McQueen, is a AckMac client. What the hell!

I’m guessing those family ties between Brewer and the McQueens is not as frayed as one would have been led to believe. Brewer is the brother-in-law of AckMac CEO Revan McQueen and the son-in-law of former CEO Angus McQueen. Brewer’s wife is Skye McQueen Brewer.

Bill and Skye Brewer at a Ralph Lauren charity event.

NRATV Is No More

Live production of NRATV has ceased. The announcement was made yesterday and follows a demand from Ackerman McQueen to be paid for its services. The move was widely expected given the parting of the ways between the NRA and AckMac.

From the New York Times:

The N.R.A. on Tuesday also severed all business with its estranged advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, which operates NRATV, the N.R.A.’s live broadcasting media arm, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

While NRATV may continue to air past content, its live broadcasting will end and its on-air personalities — Ackerman employees including Dana Loesch — will no longer be the public faces of the N.R.A. It remained unclear whether the N.R.A. might try to hire some of those employees, but there was no indication it was negotiating to do so.

It is somewhat ironic that one of the reasons stated for shutting down NRATV was the content that strayed from Second Amendment issues into other conservative social issues. Ironic because I think Wayne LaPierre used it to burnish his conservative credentials when appearing at events like CPAC. In a statement, he said regarding NRATV:

“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, wrote in a message to members that was expected to be sent out by Wednesday. “So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.”

I think when NRATV was just Cam Edwards with Cam & Co. or special reports by Ginny Simone along with commentary from “the young guns” it was OK. Then it added programming from people like Dana Loesch and Grant Stichfield and it began to move more into other social issues. This loss of focus on the Second Amendment and threats to gun rights was when many members started having second thoughts about its usefulness.

Ackerman McQueen responded to the cessation of live production saying in part:

Ackerman, in its own statement, said it was “not surprised that the N.R.A. is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner.”

“When given the opportunity to do the right thing, the N.R.A. once again has taken action that we believe is intended to harm our company even at the expense of the N.R.A. itself,” the company added. It said it “will continue to fight against the N.R.A.’s repeated violations of its agreement with our company with every legal remedy available to us.”

The full letter from the NRA terminating its business relationship with Ackerman McQueen and the Mercury Group is below. The letter also demands all materials produced by AckMac for the NRA.

NRA Issues Subpoenas To 3 Board Members In Ack-Mac Lawsuit (Updated)

I missed this story when it came out three days ago. It seems that attorneys for the NRA in their suit against Ackerman McQueen have issued subpoenas to three Board members. The subpoenas for documents were sent to Oliver North, Lance Olson, and Dan Boren.

From the Daily Beast which I acknowledge is a left-leaning anti-NRA publication:

Previously unreported court documents show the group served a subpoena on Oliver North late last month. It also subpoenaed Lance Olson and Daniel Boren, according to the documents; all three men are members of the NRA’s own board.


The subpoena asks for a number of documents from North: anything sent from April 10 to May 22 regarding people who work for the NRA’s longtime ad firm, Ackerman McQueen; any communications sent over the NRA’s contentious Indianapolis convention about CEO Wayne LaPierre or Ackerman McQueen; documents about the NRA’s expenditures; documents about North’s expenses; and communications about leaks.


The subpoena points to the friction between the NRA and its former president and highlights the extent to which the fight roiling the organization is focused on money and media. It specifically demands communications “related to a ‘leak’ or dissemination of previously non-public documents or information,” and cites stories from the Washington Free Beacon and The Daily Beast. The NRA previously alleged that the ad firm leaked confidential information to media outlets as part of an effort to damage senior officials in the NRA.


The NRA made the same document demands of Boren and Olson. It also demanded that North appear for a deposition on June 13 in a location the two parties would agree to, and that Olson do the same on June 17.


Lawyers for North did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Ackerman McQueen declined to comment.

The story did not publish the court documents nor did it specify whether the subpoenas were in relation to the first lawsuit the NRA filed against Ack-Mac or the second. Without paying a significant fee, access to the City of Alexandria Circuit Court filings is limited to a dated notation listing the filing in a case.

I can see the NRA’s attorneys issuing a subpoena to Oliver North as he is at the center of the lawsuits. I can even see the subpoena for Dan Boren who is from Oklahoma and reportedly opposed Wayne LaPierre at a reception during the NRA Annual Meeting. However, I don’t understand the subpoena to Lance Olson nor why certain other members such as Lt. Col. Allen West or Richard Childress didn’t receive subpoenas.

It will be interesting to see what happens at the next NRA Board meeting scheduled for September 13th in Anchorage, Alaska. Will there be a move to expel certain board members such as Lt. Col. North, Allen West, and others from the Board of Directors? An unnamed board member told me not to be surprised if this happens. North, by the way, was the leading vote getter in the 2019 BOD election surpassing even Ted Nugent.

UPDATE: The number of people getting subpoenas is now at least four. Rob Pincus acknowledged on Facebook that he had been served with one by the NRA’s lawyers with reference to the Ack-Mac lawsuit. Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon tweeted about it a few hours ago. A copy of the subpoena with Rob’s address information redacted can be found on Scribd.com here. He is being asked to produce letters, memos, and other communications concerning “previously non-public” information related to Wayne LaPierre, Oliver North, Marion Hammer, and Tyler Schropp. Mr. Schropp is in charge of the NRA’s fund raising operations.

UPDATE II: Checking the case number on the subpoena served on Rob Pincus it comes from the second NRA lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen. This is the lawsuit which accuses Ack-Mac of instigating a “coup” against Wayne LaPierre. I presume the other three who have been subpoenaed are being subpoenaed as a result of this suit as well.

The big picture question in all of this is what role is being played by the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III. Due to his ethics issues in Texas which are now before the Texas Supreme Court, he has not been granted leave to practice in Virginia.

UPDATE III: Checking the docket for this case, I see that there have been a total of six subpoenas issued. Two more were issued on June 4th. As to whom they were issued, I don’t know yet. I will report on that when I find out. To read case documents for that case directly from the City of Alexandria Clerk of Circuit Court’s website is $50 per month which I don’t anticipate me deciding to pay anytime soon.

The Full Ack-Mac Statement On Terminating Their Contract With The NRA

Oklahoma City News 9 published the full statement from Ackerman McQueen on their move to terminate its contract with the National Rifle Association. Previous news reports only quoted excerpts from this statement.

From News 9:

May 29, 2019 State From Ackerman McQueen

“Today, faced with the NRA’s many inexplicable actions that have constructively terminated the parties’ Services Agreement, Ackerman McQueen decided it is time to stand up for the truth, and formally provide a Notice to Terminate its almost four-decade long relationship with the National Rifle Association.

“Over the last very difficult year, the NRA’s chaos led us to lose faith in the organization’s willingness to act on behalf of the NRA’s mission. We implored everyone involved to stay true to the NRA membership. In return, we were attacked in frivolous lawsuits and defamed with made-up stories that were then cowardly peddled to the media. Our employee’s rights to privacy were challenged by a determination to drag false allegations into the public with leaks and innuendo. The intent was to make us afraid. We will never fear the truth.

“The NRA has been a powerful force to protect the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans. For 38 years we were with them, as we are with all of our clients, to serve their mission. The turmoil the NRA faces today was self-inflicted. It could have been avoided. We deeply regret that it wasn’t.”

I speculated on Wednesday that Ack-Mac may be recognizing the rise of William Brewer III and his firm in the equation of things and Brewer’s goal to be the one stop shop for both legal and PR needs. I’ve had two NRA Directors who shall remain unnamed contact me since I wrote that to say they thought that was spot on and that Brewer was pushing in that direction. Both took a dim view of the efforts of Brewer.

In response to a question I posted on NRA Director and WLP loyalist Todd Rathner’s Facebook page asking if Brewer would be the new go-to for PR, Mr. Rathner replied:

No. I have asked that exact question and was told that his PR shop is specifically set up to support his legal work. They are not equipped to provide the type of services the NRA requires for overall PR. A lot will be coming in house, some services will be outsourced.

Maybe yes, maybe no but don’t be surprised to see Brewer’s billings increase even more.