The final two resolutions were submitted by Jeff Knox.
The first of these resolutions was ruled out of order by Charles Cotton. He said after consultation with the parliamentarian that under Robert’s Rules of Order you could not have a resolution condemning someone after another resolution praising him had been adopted. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know since I’m not an expert of Robert’s Rules of Order. Even if I was, I’m sure Cotton would have found a way not to consider the resolution.
After this motion was quashed, Jeff rose and requested that his next resolution be withdrawn. Cotton seemed to be a bit confused by that but it was done.
Then Jeff made a motion to adjourn because spending any more time of this travesty would have been wasted time.
The whole meeting was orchestrated from beginning to end. The only purpose seemed to check off a box, confirm that Wayne is the NRA, that the members really don’t count for squat, and quash any dissent. Board members are told to speak against resolution that challenges the status quo and for a resolution like the “we love Wayne” one. One board member confirmed to me that he slipped out early just to avoid being asked (or told) to do that.
West said he is “honored” by the call for him to run against LaPierre. He said he is considering the move and consulting with loved ones.
“It is deeply humbling and I am honored that these current and former NRA Board Members would put such trust and confidence in my abilities,” West told The Reload. “I have to pray and consult with my family. I love the NRA and my life has been defined by answering the call to serve, and my oath to the Constitution has no statute of limitations.”
While some who intensely dislike LaPierre wonder if this is a good move, Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition had this point to make about Lt. Col. West.
Folks, not having an alternative candidate that’s “perfect” is how we end up with LaPierre continuing in power. We must take out LaPierre, and that means running a candidate who has the potential to win, and who will actually run. He might not be your favorite candidate, but he is likely to be the candidate we have, so please don’t be disparaging him.
I think Jeff is correct in that the question comes down to this: do you want the perfect candidate for EVP/CEO or do you want Wayne ousted?
I have long thought that the NRA’s Board of Directors is too large and too unwieldy to be effective. Given how they have kowtowed to hired staff like Wayne LaPierre and their hired gun William Brewer III, I think this ineffectiveness is pretty obvious.
I’ve long held that it would be more effective to set up the board(s) similar to colleges and universities where they have a large Board of Visitors whose job it is to fundraise and gather support for the school with a small Board of Trustees whose job it is to actually manage the school in conjunction with administrators.
Jeff Knox of the Firearm Coalition has been a life-long observer of the NRA from both the inside and outside. Jeff’s proposal is similar but goes further than mine. He envisions three separate boards with varying levels of authority.
From his proposal:
The Honorary Board would be composed of celebrities, politicians, and high-dollar donors. As the name suggests, membership on the Honorary Board would be honorary, with members responsible for being goodwill ambassadors and fundraisers for the Association. They would have no role in the governance of the Association and would be elected or removed by the Advisory Board, with no limits on the number of members serving on it. They would not get travel reimbursement.
The Advisory Board would be a representative board of about 52 to 55 members, each elected by, and representing the NRA members of their home state or US territory. The term of service for Advisory Board members would be 2 years, with approximately half of the seats up for election each year. This board would be responsible for doing most of what the current Board of Directors does now, forming committees and subcommittees to hash out details and formulate policy and position proposals. The key difference between this board and the current board would be that the Advisory Board would not be making the final decisions, instead advising the Managing Board.
The Managing Board would be composed of 9 members, each serving a 3-year term, with one-third of the seats up for election every year. The members of the Managing Board would be nominated by the Advisory Board’s Nominating Committee or by petition of the members, and elected by the Advisory Board. The Managing Board would be responsible for electing the Executive Vice President, and for setting policy for the Association, as well as overseeing all aspects of Association business.
Jeff is explicit that his proposal is a basis for discussion and is meant to generate ideas. He doesn’t see it as a be-all and end-all proposal.
He goes on to add about the composition of the Advisory and Managing Boards:
The Advisory Board would be comprised primarily of people with strong ties and experience in the shooting sports and firearms politics, and the Managing Board would be comprised of people with solid firearms backgrounds and credentials, and equally solid business and government experience.
I think Jeff’s tripartite approach is a good start.
I do have reservations about two things. With the exception of just a few state affiliates like those in California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, most NRA state affiliates are next to useless when it comes to actually fighting for gun rights. They tend to leave the fight for gun rights to the NRA-ILA representative serving multiple states and maybe a paid lobbyist. The fight for gun rights in many states is actually being done by non-NRA affiliates like Grass Roots North Carolina, AZ Citizens Defense League, and the Virginia Citizen Defense League
Most NRA state affiliates’ forte is competition and maybe training. I don’t want to call them “fudds” but many are still stuck in a 1950s mindset. They are totally ignorant of Gun Culture v2.0 and the millions of new gun owners who bought their first firearm in 2020-21.
My second reservation is an extremely strong objection to having the Managing Board elected by the Advisory Board. Never, ever should the voting members of the NRA not have the final say on the election of the Board that actually manages the NRA. I do like the idea that people can be nominated by petition for the Managing Board and I would make it a reasonable number that is obtainable.
As Jeff said, this is only a start. Unfortunately, it might take a court-order reorganization to make any of it happen.
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.
Philosopher and historian George Santayana wrote in 1905 that “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In that spirit, I thought it would be useful to readers to revisit some of the history of the National Rifle Association starting with the Cincinnati Revolt and going up through the late 1990s. It was in the late 1990s that Wayne LaPierre cemented his role as Executive Vice President of the NRA and effectively stifled any future efforts to remove him.
This history is not unbiased as it comes from the writings of the late Neal Knox. He was one of the architects of the Cincinnati Revolt, served as head of NRA-ILA, was a NRA Board member, was its 1st Vice President, was the man who first hired Wayne LaPierre as a lobbyist, and later became his chief antagonist. Neal was also a gun writer and publisher. He was the founding editor of Gun Week (now The GunMag), was the editor of Wolfe Publishing’s Handloader and Rifle magazines, and later had a column in Shotgun News (now Firearm News). This archived post from Gun Week gives more of Neal’s life and work.
Through the gracious permission of Chris and Jeff Knox, I will be reprinting selected chapters from the book as it relates to the NRA. I’ll be doing this on an occasional basis so as to spread it out.
It is my belief that knowing some of this history will allow readers to better understand the current NRA, its problems, and what has led to it being sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The problems that she points out in her lawsuit didn’t just happen and it is important to realize that.
Healthy organizations have succession plans. Good leaders make it a priority. Development of future leaders is such an organizational imperative that it is usually under the purview of the CEO. Having a succession plan is both forward looking and a measure of risk management.
Think how many corporations and non-profits have lost their chief executives to heart attacks, cancer, and accidents. The list goes on and on.
For almost a decade I’ve been asking people in the firearms and Second Amendment community to seriously consider who might take over as Executive Vice President of the NRA if Wayne LaPierre were to retire or be hit by a bus.
About 6 years ago I got really serious about that question and was raising the issue in my regular columns, then 3 and a half years ago, after the election of Donald Trump, there was talk that Wayne might be offered some sort of position within the Trump administration, and I was very actively asking people for suggestions of possible successors, or at least the qualities a successor would need in order to be successful and keep the NRA strong. Finally, last year all sorts of accusations of financial improprieties and self-dealing among LaPierre and other NRA executives, broke in major media, and a lot of people began asking the same questions I’d been asking for years, but the same answer kept coming back… Crickets.
Let’s look at the people that Jeff notes have been seriously mentioned as potential successors as Executive VP and CEO of the NRA.
Out. Through the machinations of either Wayne LaPierre or his erstwhile Rasputin, William Brewer III, Chris was labeled as having been a part of a “coup attempt”. This was always strongly denied by Chris and he eventually resigned.
Out. Again, was accused of plotting to overthrow Wayne and again the fine hand of William Brewer III seems to have been involved. This happened after Ollie started asking too many questions especially with regard to Brewer. Wayne portrayed this as “extortion“.
It isn’t just the CEO who should be responsible for succession planning. Professor Ram Charan who taught at both Harvard Business School and Northwestern University, had this to say on succession planning.
A CEO or board that has been in place for six or seven years and has not yet provided a pool of qualified candidates, and a robust process for selecting the next leader, is a failure. Everyone talks about emulating such best practitioners as General Electric, but few work very hard at it.
By all objective measures, the NRA Board of Directors has failed. They have no succession plan for Wayne. The majority of the board has kow-towed to Wayne and jumped when he said jump.
Part of the reason the board fails is structural and part is due to the composition. The structural issue is that the Board of Directors is too damn large to be effective. The other issue is that many on the board are there due to either celebrity status or allegiance to Wayne. It is the latter that is the greater problem. The board owes a duty of loyalty to the organization and not to any one individual.
In the short run, nothing can be done about the size of the board. However, the board can still start to work on a succession plan to Wayne. Based upon Wayne’s age of 70 alone, this needs to be done. My fear is that the board will do as it has always done. That is do nothing and the organization will continue to suffer while our blood enemies grow stronger.
The ballots for the 2020 NRA Board of Directors Election were included in the February issues of the official magazines. Those who get the magazines electronically should have received their ballots separately in the mail. If you haven’t received your ballot and you think you are eligible to vote, contact NRA Membership Services at 1- 703-267-1000. Ask for membership. (Correction courtesy of Dave V.)
Completed ballots must be received back by March 29th. Late ballots will not be counted.
The first published endorsements that I saw were from Lt. Col. Robert Brown of Soldier of Fortune Magazine. Col. Brown has been a member of the Board of Directors for a number of years and has been a somewhat independent voice on the board. He endorsed six people for the Board. He notes elsewhere he is NOT voting for Charles Cotton, the current 1st VP.
Ammoland News is endorsing only two candidates this year: Anthony Colandro and Graham Hill. They go on to say:
Based on the last years’ controversy at the NRA AmmoLand News is very cautious in who we are endorsing as we wait and see how the NRA’s legal challenges work out. Graham Hill is one of those Directors that we know very well and have much respect for his work and trust his leadership skills can help guide the NRA in the year to come. Please Bullet Vote only for Graham Hill and Anthony Colandro when you return your NRA ballot.
Anthony’s DECADES of Second Amendment activism experience, fighting for all of us, with a target on his back, is the thing legends are made of! Leading rallies, testifying for gun owners at hearings held at our state capitol, hosting Tony Simon’s Diversity Shoot and the Second Amendment Women Shooting Club–SAW at his range. He never stops fighting! His in-your-face weekly radio broadcast reaches millions of gun owners nationwide.
The Trigger Pressers Union (a training organization) has endorsed Frank Tait and Jim Wallace. Klint Macro, the head and founder, is also endorsing Todd Ellis and Anthony Colandro according to their Facebook post.
Next up is Save the Second. The organization itself has not endorsed any candidates. They have, however, provided a valuable service by creating a guide to all candidates which can be found here. It has many links to candidates’ social media sites, endorsements, and biographical information.
They also have produced a 2 1/2 hour YouTube where they discuss the candidates. It is worth watching.
The individual directors of Save the Second have made their own recommendations independent of the organization.
Jeff is blunt on what the NRA faces and the assortment of candidates on this ballot.
The NRA is in deep trouble. I honestly expect indictments and financial sanctions to be coming down very soon from investigations being conducted by the New York and DC attorneys general and other agencies. All of these troubles tie directly back to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA Directors who allowed him to abuse his power so egregiously. If the Association can be saved, it’s going to require Directors willing to make hard decisions and stand firmly on principles. This ballot doesn’t offer a lot of hope for that, but we must do what we can with what we’ve got.
Jeff has made both endorsements and non-endorsements. The non-endorsements are those who should not get your vote under any circumstances. These include Charles Cotton, Ron Schmeitz, and Alan Cors. Rejecting these three would, in Jeff’s words, send a “loud message to the Board and the powers that be.” He also mentions John Cushman who is running by petition. Cushman has been on the Board off and on for 20 years. Jeff considers him part of the problem and not part of the solution.
In years gone past, Jeff has endorsed bullet voting. This year he has broadened the number of candidates he supports. They include:
Finally, as a reminder, I am endorsing both Frank Tait and Graham Hill. I think both are excellent candidates and worthy of your support. I am also suggesting bullet voting. The NRA Board election is what is termed in political science an “approval election“. This means there are multiple candidates running for multiple seats and you can vote for as many candidates as there are seats. Social scientists have written extensively on approval elections and on voting strategically in these elections.
Since you cannot rank order your preferences, if you vote for as many candidates as there are open seats, then your most favored candidate is equal to your least favored candidate. One merely needs to look to the presidential election of 1800 to see the consequences. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr both got the same number of electoral votes even though one was running for president and the other for vice-president. This became known as the Burr Dilemma. That election was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives.
If you see other endorsements for the Board that you think should be highlighted, please comment and include a link to the endorsement with your comments.
Lt. Col. Allen West, USA (Ret), former Congressman from Florida and a NRA Board Member, put out this tweet a little over an hour ago. Mind you that the release put out by the American Rifleman and elsewhere was that the Board unanimously elected the new officers, reelected Wayne LaPierre as EVP, and re-appointed the rest of the Executive Team.
(3/3) I wish we could have delivered on what our NRA members asked of us in the resolution they referred to the Board. The NRA & 2A is greater than any one person. It’s about the spirit of those Patriots who took the field on April 19, 1775 at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge.
We recorded a special episode of The Polite Society Podcast tonight to discuss the NRA Annual Meeting, the Board Meeting, and the Meeting of the Members on Saturday. Our guest was Jeff Knox of The Firearm Coalition. One thing that Jeff brought up was that he wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the celebs on the board bailing upon the advice of their attorneys. Given the strictness of NY law and the mandate that directors actually direct, I’m just glad to be a peon and not a board member.
Jeff Knox, son of the late Neal Knox, is a person I like and respect. We’ve met at various NRA Annual Meetings and Gun Rights Policy Conferences over the years. I’ve come to appreciate his great love for the NRA and what it could be as well as his extensive institutional memory. He has been fighting a long but so-far losing battle to reform the NRA in an effort to recapture what the Cincinnati Revolt of 1977 was supposed to institutionalize. Some may have seen his efforts as quixotic as he has been a lone voice in the wilderness arguing that change was needed for lo these many years. Nonetheless, he was right and the recent revelations regarding the NRA are providing him some vindication.
Things are coming to a head. As I wrote yesterday, Everytown for Gun Safety has filed a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service. This shot across the bow from the gun prohibitionists may only be the first step. Moreover, Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) could well move to dissolve the NRA for being in violation of New York’s stringent non-profit laws as the organization is chartered in the State of New York.
Option 1. A majority of the Board circles the wagons in defense of Wayne LaPierre and his pals and tries to weather the storm. (They’ll fail, and the whole ship will sink.)
Option 2. A majority of the Board fires LaPierre and other executives (or accepts their resignations) and nullifies their contracts, suspends all vendor contracts pending thorough review and renegotiation, and purges culpable members of their own body – demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding NRA assets on behalf of the membership. (Plugging the holes and possibly saving the ship.)
The days of muddling through are in the past. The enemies of the Second Amendment are seeing to that.
Jeff goes on to write:
The current NRA Board of Directors have a slim chance of saving the NRA from total ruin, but they must act swiftly and decisively.
They must expunge everyone involved in even the appearance of corruption. Including board members who failed in their oversight obligations and individuals like Josh Powell the genius behind many of the NRA’s recent disasters like Carry Guard and a known manipulator of Wayne LaPierre’s decision making. They must halt all outside contracts until they can be thoroughly reviewed and either canceled or renegotiated. As much as possible needs to be brought in-house and run under the direct oversight of the board. This action may mean the end of things like Ackerman McQueen run NRA-TV, so do not be surprised if they pack up shop one day soon.
All of the significant, life-threatening issues facing NRA revolve around just three operational areas: PR, fundraising, and political spending. Suspending operations in those three areas, and bringing them under tight, in-house control for the immediate future, would put the association back on stable ground and allow it to continue operating effectively.
There will undoubtedly be repercussions from all of this, including fines, sanctions, lawsuits, and possibly criminal indictments, but all of those repercussions are on their way, regardless of what the board does now. The difference is whether those consequences will be levied against an organization that still has the people who created those problems at the helm – people who will be using NRA resources to cover their tails – or an organization that has policed itself and taken corrective action to address its problems.
If I may use the analogy of the stages of cancer, we are well beyond Stage 1 where the cancer is small and only in one area. The only question we are facing is whether it is Stage 3 where the cancer is much larger and has spread into adjacent tissues or is it Stage 4 where the cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body and survival is in doubt. Both Stage 3 and Stage 4 are bad. Treating either stage requires strong, even radical, measures if long-term survival is to have any probability of success.
This unfortunately is what we are facing. I would love to have been writing about all the new products coming out or the seminars and presentations I anticipated attending this weekend. Events of the past week dictate otherwise.