No NRA Petition Candidates For 2021

Unless there was someone besides Frank Tait seeking a nomination to run for the NRA Board of Directors by petition, there will be no petition candidates in the 2021 election. If you know of anyone else, please let me know in the comments.

Frank was notified yesterday that he fell short. He had submitted 725 signatures which was almost 32% greater than the required 551 valid signatures. However, he had 227 signatures disqualified for a variety of reasons. The greatest number of signatures disqualified was due to not being a member for five consecutive years.

Frank told me that he assumed that if someone went to the trouble to mail him a signed petition that the person was either a Life Member of some level or a five year member with voting privileges. He said his biggest mistake was not vetting those signatures which looked complete.

Given the restrictions on assembling in 2020 such as at gun shows, he really only had three months instead of the more normal five months to gather these signatures. I remember last year I gathered about a dozen or more valid signatures for Frank at the Grass Roots Policy Conference.

In 2017, there was a package of bylaw amendments that, among other things, raised the minimum number of signatures required from 250 to 0.5% of the number of valid votes in the preceding year. It was an all or nothing package. While some of the bylaw changes were mere housekeeping, others like changing the number of signatures required to be a petition candidate were not. Dave Hardy covered it well back then in his Of Arms and the Law blog.

I went back to read Dave’s post as well as the comments. I found the comments particularly relevant.

Ken914 wrote this, in part, on the bylaw changes:

If this is passed, the Board can assured the nominating committee, made up of Board members, will have complete control of who can run for the Board from now on. The limp-wristed celebrities, hangers-on, and 2A do-nothings that fill so so soooo many seats on the Board will be safe from the NRA membership attempting to replace them with new directors who will advocate for a full understanding of the RKBA.

Remember, this is the same BoD that defended Joaquin Jackson until his death. What could go wrong if we just let them become a closed club who hand-selects their own successors?

Jeff Knox, who urged a “no” vote on the bylaw changes wrote this:

Ken914 is spot-on in his assessment. This is an incumbent protection move, removing power from the members, and giving even more power to the Board.

David is correct that many of the changes are just housekeeping, and some of the other stuff could be justified, but this is an all-or-nothing proposal that would do serious harm.

The suggestion that Bloomberg is going to come in and take over the NRA – or stir up trouble by funding recall elections – is a straw man play. The formula they are suggesting would mean that only someone with Bloomberg’s money could possibly orchestrate a successful recall or bylaw petition.

I won’t go into the other changes wrought by the 2017 bylaw amendments. Suffice to say, it solidified power in the Board of Directors and has made another Cincinnati Revolt virtually impossible. Prior to these changes, Frank Tait would have been on the 2021 ballot.

I did vote NO on the bylaw amendments.

I am going to think long and hard before I support anyone that was nominated by the Nominations Committee for the 2021 Board election.

My NRA Succession Planning Resolution Was Shot Down

Perhaps I was naive but I thought with the COVID-19 pandemic that my resolution asking for a formal succession plan for NRA leadership would pass. It didn’t.

Having a formal succession plan is a key to a healthy organization. This is critical for both for-profit and non-profit organization. The current NRA “succession plan” is a bylaw that states the Executive Director of General Operations will act as the Executive VP in a temporary capacity if the EVP is removed or incapacitated. This person will only serve until the next Board of Directors meeting. That’s it.

My proposal was, as follows:

Resolution submitted to the Annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association, 24 October 2020, by John P. Richardson of Arden, North Carolina, Endowment Life Member No. xxxxx

WHEREAS, the National Rifle Association exists for the benefit of its members and has a long, illustrious history as the nation’s premier provider of firearms safety, training, and competition, as well as our country’s oldest and most effective civil rights organization; and

WHEREAS, strong, effective, and consistent leadership is required for the organizational health and efficacy of the National Rifle Association; and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great disruption to the normal activities of the National Rifle Association; and

WHEREAS, National Rifle Association President Carolyn Meadows has called COVID-19 “a wakeup-call to the importance of the NRA”; and the most vulnerable age cohort to COVID-19 are those over the age of 65 and is the age group with the highest mortality; and

WHEREAS, the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre is over the age of 65; and the premature death or disability of Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre would create an executive management and leadership vacuum greatly disrupting the effectiveness of the National Rifle Association in promoting our civil rights; and

WHEREAS, succession planning is a critical component of all effective organizations; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that, on this 24th day of October, 2020, the members of the National Rifle Association of America here gathered at the Annual Meeting of Members in Tucson, Arizona do hereby request the NRA Board of Directors to create a formal succession plan for the Chief Executive Officer and for the Executive Directors; and

RESOLVED, that we, the members here gathered, further request the NRA Board of Directors to have a draft of this formal succession plan ready for presentation and comment at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board in 2021; and

RESOLVED, that we, the members here gathered, further request the NRA Board of Directors to present this formal succession plan to the Meeting of Members in Houston, Texas on the 15th of May, 2021.

Because I thought the matter was important, I even couched in it terms of “what happens if we lose the irreplaceable Wayne!” Of course, that was BS.

After I rose to speak for the resolution and even used Charles Cotton’s mention of “best practices”, I was followed to the podium by three Board of Director members to speak against it. They were Don Saba, Joel Friedman, and Kayne Robinson. Their arguments were it wasn’t needed, that filling the position wasn’t the same as with a corporation, and that the Director of General Operations works closely with Wayne. They, of course, missed the whole point.

Frank Tait did rise to speak in favor of it which was much appreciated.

Resolutions at this Meeting of Members were pretty much doomed to failure in their original form. They best they could hope for was a referral to committee. A reasonable guesstimate of the number of voting members attending the meeting was in the 150-200 maximum range. That included 50 Board members, a number of their spouses, a number of older members from the area, and just a handful of us who want to see the NRA become a healthier organization. I really felt like I was one of the younger members in attendance and I’m 63!

I realize that change takes time and I need to play the long game. It is still frustrating but it is what it is. Just another great thing brought to you by 2020.

NRA Meeting Rumors

The NRA Meeting of Members is scheduled for 9am on October 24th in Tucson, Arizona. As noted before, it will be at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Arizona, you will need a ticket to be admitted to the meeting. Unfortunately, the meeting is at capacity according to a notice on the ticket website.

That said, even if you don’t have a ticket to attend the actual Meeting of Members, you can still come to the resort, have your voting eligibility confirmed, and vote for the 76th Director.

From the ticket website:

The Voter Verification room will be located in the Ventana Room at the Hotel and will be open Friday October 23, 9am – 8pm, and Saturday October 24 from 8am until the conclusion of the Annual Meeting of Members. All voting booths for the 76th Director will be located in the Voter Verification room.

If you are in the area and eligible to vote, take some time and vote.

As of now, petition candidate Frank Tait is the only declared candidate for the 76th Director. I both gathered signatures for his petition and endorsed him in his run for the Board. I continue to support Frank. He is both a training counselor and an experienced businessman. He would bring a lot to the Board.

Here is where the rumors come in. Anyone of the people who ran for the Board of Directors and failed to be elected is eligible to run for the 76th Director. Thus, Rocky Marshall, Robert Wos, John Cushman, Jim Wallace, Craig Schwartz, Kevin Hogan, and Frank Tait are eligible to run. Rumor has it that the powers that be are seeking anyone other than Frank Tait to be the “endorsed candidate”.

As a reminder, Wayne LaPierre used your membership money in the past to pay for people to campaign for the “endorsed” candidate. Listen again to Dezarae Payne and Michael Schwartz describe how Paul Payne carried out Wayne’s wishes.

It takes nerve, chutzpah, arrogance, and outright disdain for the NRA members to continue in a strategy that has been both exposed and is downright dishonest.

Worse than that, it is stupid.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and her staff have made it plain that they are trying to dissolve the NRA. Stunts like this only play into her hands. If Wayne and his henchmen don’t think they are watching, they are bigger fools than I thought they were.

With no offense meant to any of the directors or candidates, the plain truth of the matter is one director on the bloated 76 member Board of Directors cannot do much. This makes it all the more stupid.

2020 NRA Board Election: My Choices

Note: Every ballot will have the same names on it. However, the order of the names may vary from one ballot to another. Look for the name and not the number! Thanks to David Z. for this reminder.

You will only see two names chosen on my ballot: Graham Hill and Frank Tait. There are some others on the list who may be worthy of your vote but I am a bullet voter. That is, I pick a limited number of candidates in an effort to increase the efficacy of my vote.

Jeffrey Hague of Ellendate, Delaware is on the ballot but has withdrawn his name. It was too late to remove it from the ballot. From what I read elsewhere, he thinks he can do more for gun rights in Delaware by continuing his work as president of the Delaware State Sportsman’s Association.

Existing Board members who would have been up for re-election but were not renominated include Melanie Pepper, Lance Olson, and Heidi Washington. Melanie Pepper asked too many questions which irritated the Old Guard. She had been removed from her committee assignments. Lance Olson, though long thought to be a member of “Wayne’s Posse”, somehow ran afoul of him. If you remember, he was one of the Board members subpoenaed in the fight in Virginia courts with AckMac. Finally, Heidi Washington, the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections and daughter of former NRA President Tom Washington, asked not be to renominated.

Frank Tait is running by petition for the Board of Directors. He was the one who authored the petition of no confidence in Wayne LaPierre at the 2019 Meeting of Members. I helped gather signatures for Frank’s petition and continue to support his candidacy. He has a business background that has long been needed in board members. Moreover, he is a NRA Training Counselor, Chief RSO, an Appleseed and Revere’s Riders trainer, and an active IDPA competitor.

I voted for Graham Hill in 2017 and I’m proud to vote for him again. Graham is an attorney, lobbyist, former Congressional staffer, President of the 50 Caliber Institute, and a board member of the American Suppressor Association. Graham is an active 3-Gun competitor as well as a hunter. He does this from a wheelchair and without assistance. With the turmoil in the NRA-ILA, Graham brings the knowledge and experience on Capitol Hill to help provide a guiding hand to it.

I might have voted for Mark Robinson except he is running for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina. The time he might have devoted to the NRA will be, of necessity, devoted to his campaign.

I do have misgivings about some candidates. For example, Thomas Arvas, Clel Baudler, and Howard “Walt” Walter are all in their 80s. With all due respect to their age and experience, they are past their prime and younger, more active candidates are required if the problems facing the NRA are to be resolved. I also have misgivings about Charles Cotton who is currently the First VP. In addition to being First VP, Cotton has been chair of the Audit Committee for a number of years. Too many things have been rubber stamped after the fact by the Audit Committee. This has contributed to the dysfunction in board governance which in turn has made the NRA vulnerable to the attack by the Attorney General of New York. Then there is John Cushman who is running by petition. His comments at the 2019 Gun Rights Policy Conference thanking women for being there to support their men (3:45 mark) were sexist, demeaning, and insulting. I know many women expressed to me their disdain for his comments.

If you are voting member, you should have received your ballot in the February issue of the official magazine (American Rifleman, American Hunter, America’s 1st Freedoms, or Shooting Illustrated). To be a voting member, you must be either a Life Member (or above) or an Annual Member with five or more years of membership without any interruptions. If you qualified and didn’t receive a ballot, I’d urge you to contact the Secretary’s Office at NRA Headquarters.

On average, only 6% of eligible members vote in any year. This is a disgrace and why too many people who have no business being on the board get elected year after year. If you are eligible, do yourself, the NRA, and everyone else a favor and vote after you have done your research.