Someone Is Going Under The Bus

The New York Times ran a story by Danny Hakim regarding the financing of the “Russia trip”. It appeared in Thursday’s paper. The “Russia trip” was a visit to Moscow organized by Maria Butina. It was attended by former NRA President David Keene, then-1st VP Pete Brownell, Sheriff David Clarke, and some other board members. The trip was for the purpose of building stronger ties between the NRA and gun-rights supporters in Russia.

The financing of the trip has been of interest to both Congressional investigators and to NY Attorney General Letitia James. There have been a complicated series of personal checks and reimbursements which has attracted their attention. According to the article, the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III has asserted in internal presentations that “those involved had exposed themselves to wire fraud charges.” Other attorneys disagreed with this assertion.

Brewer is also asserting that Wayne LaPierre was opposed to the trip. This, however, is contradicted by emails from the time which marked trip-related invoices as “Wayne approved”.

While the whole financing issue is of interest to investigators, it is what is buried in this story that caught my attention. In other words, the story within the story. It concerns the bureaucratic infighting between some of LaPierre’s closest associates.

The invoices for the trip were overseen by LaPierre’s closest aide Millie Hallow.

The 2016 transactions were overseen by Millie Hallow, an aide to Mr. LaPierre, according to emails. In one February 2016 email, Ms. Butina sent an invoice directly to Ms. Hallow for “Hosting of NRA leadership group for six days in Moscow,” according to the document, and thanked her “for your invaluable advice these past few months.”

In a May 26 email that year, Ms. Hallow told other N.R.A. officials that an invoice related to the trip submitted by Mr. Brownell’s company, the firearms retailer Brownells, had been authorized: “Wayne approved these special projects involving Outreach that Brownell has done,” she wrote.

Now it appears that Josh Powell, Chief of Staff to LaPierre, is trying to throw Millie under the bus.

On Thursday, Josh Powell, the N.R.A.’s chief of staff, said in a statement that “in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Brownell, Millie falsely stated that Wayne approved of certain expenses when he had not. In fact, Millie apologized to me (and others) later for the misrepresentation.”

You may remember that in late July I did a blog post regarding Millie Hallow. It detailed how she had been convicted of felony embezzlement while directing the DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities. My impression was that had been kept a closely guarded secret. I had NRA board members tell me they didn’t know Ms. Hallow was a convicted felon until that post was published.

It now appears that someone wants that information in the public domain.

But Ms. Hallow is one of Ms. LaPierre’s closest aides, and raising questions about her credibility comes at an inopportune time. The N.R.A. is relying on her word in its battle with Oliver North, the organization’s former president, who stepped down this year shortly after making a call to Ms. Hallow that N.R.A. officials described as threatening toward Mr. LaPierre. Ms. Hallow also once pleaded guilty to a felony related to the theft of money from an arts agency she ran in Washington. (emphasis mine)

It would be interesting to know which one of Hakim’s sources pointed that out to him. It does serve the purposes of Josh Powell but the question remains whether he is smart enough to made use of it. I don’t see it serving the purpose of Brewer as he needs her to be a credible witness against Ollie North. That is, unless it is more important to protect LaPierre in the Russia investigation than it is to continue the fight against Ollie North. If that is the case then there is a lot more substance to this whole Russia fiasco than we previously thought and it is a lot more dangerous to the personal fortune of LaPierre. Time will tell.

Does Anyone In Fairfax Believe In Due Diligence?

I swear this was not meant to be “Dump on the NRA Day”. It really wasn’t but I just got sent some stuff that needs to be out there as questions must be raised.

If you attended the Meeting of Members at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, you might remember a short Filipino lady seeking out the youngest and oldest Life Member for recognition. That was Mille Hallow who has served as Wayne LaPierre’s right hand since 1996. According to her bio with the National Foundation for Women Legislators where she serves as Secretary, she is the Managing Director, Executive Operations. Earlier according to the same bio, she served as the Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She went by Mildred Bautista then.

Here is where it gets interesting and, frankly, a bit disturbing.

From the Washington Post, March 24, 1984:

THE D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities is facing its toughest test. Eight weeks ago, the city’s corporation counsel, followed by the U.S. attorney; began investigating possible misuse of $16,00: in commission funds by its executive director, Mildred Bautista.

When the probe began, the arts community in Washington was shocked. Then it was learned that Bautista, a $45,000-a-year appointee who also served as the mayor’s cultural adviser, had left another job in Michigan 12 years ago after officials there discovered she had falsified a resume’.

Bautista resigned her post here, saying: “I have done wrong. I have misused public funds and betrayed the public trust. I feel regret and sadness about my sins, particularly to the many people, friends and associates who have placed their faith in me.”

If only it had just been padding the resume. You can read more about the resume issue in Ann Arbor, Michigan here.

From the Washington Post, August 18, 1984:

Mildred Bautista, former executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, yesterday was given a suspended prison sentence and placed on three years probation in connection with charges she stole more than $23,000 in commission funds.

In handing down the sentence, D.C. Superior Court Judge Joseph M. Ryan delivered a stinging commentary, blaming the city’s government for not adequately monitoring the use of the District’s money.

Bautista, 37, a $45,000-a-year mayoral appointee, pleaded guilty in June to a single charge of first-degree theft, for which she could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

While suspending a prison term of 20 months to five years for Bautista and placing her on unsupervised probation, Ryan also ordered her to reimburse $23,691 to the city.

A couple of years later, the then-Ms. Bautista was removed from an arts commission in Fairfield, California when it was discovered she had pleaded guilty to “felony theft in connection with the embezzlement charges.”

Coming on the heels of the revelation that the previous CFO of the NRA, Wilson “Woody” Phillips, had embezzled funds in a prior job, you have to ask yourself who the hell is doing anything about due diligence in Fairfax. The answer is obviously no one.

The other question that should be asked is why a prohibited person is in a position of authority with a gun rights organization. While I believe in redemption for our sins, at the very least it is bad optics.

Given her past it is reasonable to assume that she may have been beholden to anyone who knew the details and kept quiet about it. People like her boss Wayne LaPierre and the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer who reportedly kept “burn books” on key NRA staff.

Now think back to Wayne LaPierre’s letter to the Board of Directors of April 25th. The letter said that Oliver North had relayed to Millie Hallow what Wayne described as an extortion attempt by AckMac. If Wayne went quietly then nothing would be released. It was on the basis of this letter that Col. North was bounced as NRA President, a slate of new officers loyal to Wayne were installed, and the whole myth about a “coup” began. After serving Wayne for 23 years and having a blemished past, don’t you think Ms. Hallow’s notes might have been edited after the fact to say whatever her boss wanted it to say?

As they say in the military when a commander is removed from his or her post, the person was removed “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead and command.” I have long lost confidence that Wayne LaPierre has the ability to lead and effectively manage (command) the NRA.