Attorneys for Phil Journey, a state judge in Kansas and a NRA Director, filed a motion in the NRA’s bankruptcy cased today. The motion asked the court to appoint an examiner (or independent investigator) to examine claims against the NRA made by the NY Attorney General Letitia James. These claims were made in the suit seeking the NRA’s dissolution.
Journey says he fully supports the NRA’s mission of protecting the Second Amendment through “education, training, and sport.” He then says:
Accordingly, Movant (Journey) seeks the appointment of an examiner to bring to light the veracity of the alleged fraud, dishonesty, incompetence, and gross mismanagement that has plagued the NRA’s reputation, caused significant alienation of the Association’s members and supporters, and hampered its ability to fulfill its core organizational purpose.
He then lays out the areas which he wants the examiner to investigate:
The best path to ensure that the NRA seizes upon the opportunity before it to recommit to its most historical ideals is to appoint an independent examiner to add transparency and confidence to the bankruptcy process. To that end, Movant requests the appointment of an examiner to examine and investigate: (i) the actions of Debtors’ pre- and post-petition management; (ii) the management practices being employed in the operation of the non-profit organization; (iii) the compensation of management; (iv) the benefits and perks being provided to the Debtors’ management team; and (v) the propriety of arrangements with certain vendors.
Journey goes on to accuse the NRA’s management of using Ackerman McQueen and other vendors as conduits to hide personal expenses and perks. He then says the Board has become a figurehead while “management” aka Wayne LaPierre actually steered the direction of the NRA.
He alleges the bylaws were violated by not having the Board of Directors to vote on the bankruptcy filing nor was the intent to seek Chapter 11 even disclosed to the Board. He goes on to note that the NRA’s management routinely ignored the bylaws, the laws of New York, and Robert’s Rules of Orders which led to Craig Spray resigning and the designated head of reorganization deciding not to take the job. Furthermore, the formation of Sea Girt LLC was not approved by the Board. Journey says information was withheld by management and the Board’s attorney which made it impossible for them to do their fiduciary duty.
The legal rationale along with case law is then presented in the argument as to why an examiner is needed.
I will be blunt. I always thought Phil Journey was a Wayne LaPierre loyalist which is why he got nominated and elected to the Board of Directors. This is either a measure of his disgust with Wayne, Brewer, and their cronies or the ultimate sleight of hand to divert attention elsewhere. Given what is in the motion, I’ll go with the former for now.
I fully expect Brewer and company fight tooth and nail against this. He did issue this statement to Bloomberg News on Journey’s motion.
The NRA disputed the claim that it didn’t follow its own rules when it filed bankruptcy. It didn’t directly address the question of whether an examiner should be appointed.
“This plan was undertaken in full compliance with NRA policy,” NRA lawyer William A. Brewer III said in an email to Bloomberg. “The plan has been widely endorsed by NRA board members, NRA members, elected officials, and other key stakeholders.”
I think this motion will get very serious consideration from Judge Harlin Hale for two reasons. First and foremost, Phil Journey is a sitting judge in a state court in Kansas. That alone elevates his concerns above that of a mere bystander. Second, he is now and has been in the past a director of the NRA. I think that would give him standing as he has a fiduciary duty.
For now, it will be very (very!) interesting to see what comes of this motion. I hope it succeeds and I hope the creditor’s committee is successful in getting a trustee appointed.
I have embedded the full brief below. Read it for yourself and tell me what you think.