Grassley Tells IRS To Ignore Calls For Russia-NRA Probe

The Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee issued a staff report in September calling on the IRS to investigate the NRA over a trip to Russia. They want the IRS to pull the NRA’s 503(c)(4) tax designation. The Senate Finance Committee minority members even called the NRA a “foreign asset”.

Yesterday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley fired back in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. He characterized the Democrats’ efforts to get the IRS to investigate the NRA as “partisan” request. He said that the IRS ” is not a political weapon, and it should not be used as such. “

Sen. Grassley goes on to note:

The Minority report focuses on certain NRA personnel who traveled to Russia in December 2015 for a goodwill trip. After reviewing nearly identical evidence as the Minority staff at great length, it was clear to the Majority staff that nothing in those documents reasonably raises questions about whether the NRA should maintain its tax-exempt status under the tax code. Indeed, rather than present a careful and serious analysis, the Minority staff report offers incendiary conclusions unsupported by paragraphs full of belabored references to behavior that “raises serious” but undefined “concerns.” Even the cover of the Minority staff report deems the NRA a “Russian asset,” while nothing in the text of the actual report ever does more than editorialize to that effect.

He recalls the efforts of Obama Administration to politicize the Internal Revenue Service with some sadness.

Moreover, the IRS should never investigate taxpayers as a result of potential political motives. It is critical for the administration of our tax system that the IRS remain ideologically neutral when it comes to enforcing the tax code, and it is just as critical that taxpayers all throughout the United States know and believe this to be true. This decade has already seen the IRS involved in enough controversy around politically-motived tax enforcement, and the IRS should strive mightily to avoid such episodes in the future. As you are well aware, in May 2013 a scandal engulfed the IRS with its partisan enforcement of applications for tax-exempt status under Sec. 50I(c)(4) of the tax code, as led by Ms. Lois Lerner. Sadly, that scandal may have been precipitated by partisan requests for the IRS to investigate its perceived political opponents. This was a tragic episode in the IRS’ history and it must not happen again.

Grassley goes on to conclude that the IRS does important work. However, he warns that if the IRS is to retain its legitimacy with the American people, it must not “biased against them based on the exercise of their constitutional rights.”

He is right. The only way the IRS can ultimately get compliance with tax laws is voluntary compliance. If it is seen as a punitive tool by the Democrats – or the Republicans – it loses any sort of legitimacy and with that compliance. There are not enough IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents to compel compliance if the American people as a whole say, “I will not comply.”

One Way To Shore Up The NRA’s Balance Sheet

Mark Allendorf had a letter to the editor published in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. The short letter shown below urges anti-gun activists to join the NRA. He is of the opinion that it can be taken over from within.

If gun-control activists want to make a real impact, then I suggest that they join the National Rifle Association en masse and change the organization from within. Nothing else seems to work, so if you can’t beat them, then join the terrorists and convert them into a responsible organization that will support reasonable gun-control laws.


A yearly membership is $45. Surely there are hundreds of thousands of energized gun-control supporters who could invest the time and money needed to do the job, one that will cost a lot less than buying Congress, which the NRA has already done.

Mr. Allendorf has a profound ignorance of the organization’s bylaws.

To be able to vote on directors and bylaw changes you must, as most of my readers know, be either in one of the classes of Life Members or be a five year continuous annual member. You have to wonder how many of these anti-rights activists are willing to stick around every year for five years. I’d wager not that many.

Let’s say 200,000 ignorant anti-rights activists are energized by Mr. Allendorf’s call to action and actually pay the $45 to join as an annual member. Don’t you think both Wayne LaPierre and CFO Craig Spray would welcome that additional $9 million in membership dues? Of course they would!

The sad thing is that the NRA has already been taken over from within.

Through a mixture of bylaw changes, ignorance, inertia, and questionable actions, any pretense of member control was killed long ago. You have a board that answers to hired help. The Old Guard is showing no signs of any willingness to reform.

Reform will eventually come. It will come as a result of the New York Attorney General’s actions. Alternatively, it can come if enough voting members say enough. I know which alternative I prefer.

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.

Only In San Francisco

Only in San Francisco do you have widespread defecation on the streets.

Only in San Francisco do you have a five-time deported illegal alien found innocent of murder.

Only in San Francisco are convicted felons now called “justice-involved persons.”

Only in San Francisco do you have an organization dedicated to the advancement of an enumerated civil right declared a “domestic terrorist organization.”

Say what? The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution yesterday that brands the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization”.

The resolution was sponsored by Supervisor Catherine Stefani (D-SF). She is an attorney, former prosecutor, and, according to her official bio, a “leader and spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” Gee, no conflict of interest there, is there?

Catherine Stefani, Official SFBOS Picture

Reading the resolution is like reading some bizarre alternate reality short story. It claims that the NRA “incites gun owners to acts of violence” among other things. It goes on to claim that the NRA, by being advocates for gun rights, have armed those who have committed acts of terrorism.

You can read the whole thing at this link. Try not to gag when reading it.

Marion Has A Worthy Adversary

Marion Hammer, current NRA Board member and former President, has (or has had) a reputation for cowing legislators in Florida. She also expects subservience from those around her including NRA staffers. I think she may have met her match.

In a recent NRA-ILA alert for Florida by Ms. Hammer, she made a direct attack David Dell’Aguila who wants reform in the NRA.

Are David Dell’Aquila’s gun rights worth $100,000?  Worth more than $100 million?  Worth whatever it takes to defeat the anti-gun agitators and enemies of the Second Amendment? You’re damned right!  Whether he donates money to NRA to fund the fight or not – NRA is fighting for his rights and yours. 

This was in response to criticism of the $100,000 lost in fees and cancellation expenses to move the NRA Board meeting from Anchorage, AK back to the DC area.

Ms. Hammer is using Mr. Dell’Aquila as a foil for her fundraising appeal. Her letter includes 3 embedded donation links and another at the bottom.

She concludes:

It’s time to stop the lies, stop the attacks, stop manufacturing fake documents, stop cutting off your nose to spite your face.  It’s time to focus on stopping the anti-gun, anti-freedom, hate-mongering enemies of our rights. 

Hey, David Dell’Aquila! you may have abandoned the only organization capable of protecting your rights — shame on you — but nonetheless, we’ve got your back.  We’re donating to the fight!

I’m of the opinion such a letter would never have gone out if Chris Cox and other NRA-ILA leadership were still there. It is too personal, too petty, and too spiteful. Indeed, it was counterproductive.

Ms. Hammer finds a worthy opponent in Mr. Dell’Aquila. Indeed, a worthy opponent that is not cowed by her reputation. He has responded with an open letter today which is embedded at the bottom of the page.

Here are a few quotes from it.

First, thank you for so prominently repeating my name in your recent fundraising appeal. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me, who didn’t know anything about the concerns of improper spending at the NRA that the grassroots organization has raised, or about my lawsuit and campaign to withhold donations until the NRA gets its house in order. So far donors are withholding over $162 million from the NRA until the organization adopts new management and more transparent accountability.

Had it not been for your fundraising letter about the value of my Second Amendment gun rights, these people might never have discovered the nearly 100 news articles (linked here and here) detailing the allegations of improper spending by NRA executives and the failure of the NRA Board of Directors to provide oversight and fiduciary prudence to address the situation.

Ouch!

Now he goes for the jugular.

The available records are not particularly clear. However, it is clear that NRA members have paid you something in excess of $2 million dollars. In 2018 alone, a year when NRA finances were reported to be exceptionally low, records show that you were paid $270,000. Would these payments have something to do with your current vigorous defense of Wayne LaPierre, and his open-purse spending practices at the NRA? This would appear to be a conflict of interest, regarding any Board vote concerning Mr. LaPierre’s continued stewardship of the organization.

In addition, according to Article V, Section 5 of the NRA’s bylaws, no director — such as yourself — is entitled to receive “any private benefit” from NRA unless payment is specifically authorized by a resolution of the Board of Directors or an authorized committee of the Board. I would be very curious to see whether the NRA’s board has approved these payments to you. If so, perhaps you could forward a copy of the written resolutions.

Mr. Dell’Aquila concludes by noting that Ms. Hammer has done good work over the years. He also notes that so have others on the Board and with state-level groups. The difference is that the others received no direct compensation from the NRA for their efforts.

I imagine this letter will make Ms. Hammer spitting mad. That is, if she ever reads it. Nonetheless, I’m sure fundraisers in Fairfax will read it and say, “Please God, no more alerts from Marion!”

Hammer-2019-09-03 by jpr9954 on Scribd

Wayne Needs A Better Attorney

The New York Daily News is not a fan of the NRA. They have made that very clear over the years. They make that very clear when they refer to the NRA’s defunct CarryGuard insurance program as “murder insurance”.

The context was that investigators with the New York Department of Financial Services served a subpoena upon NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre. They want to know what Wayne knows or knew about the marketing of CarryGuard. It should come as no surprise that New York officials would want to put Wayne on the record with a sworn deposition.

I can think of a number of reasons that they would do this. They would include harassment, payback for the Federal suit against Gov. Cuomo and former DFS head Maria Vullo, an opportunity to catch Wayne in a lie, and the list goes on.

What struck me about this article was this:

The gun-rights group’s top lawyer said it was “surprised” by the subpoena and noted that LaPierre has “virtually no information” beyond what others have already told investigators.

“The NRA believes the ‘investigation’ was blatantly political in its motivation,” said William A. Brewer III, lead counsel to the NRA, in a statement. “Nonetheless, the NRA has attempted to cooperate with reasonable requests by (New York).”

Any competent attorney should have expected this subpoena. To be surprised by what should have been a foregone conclusion indicates either Brewer is incompetent or that he is trying to create a smokescreen. I know which way I’m leaning but for the moment I’ll reserve judgement.

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from the Firearms and Politics mailing list. C. D. Tavares, a longtime poster on the list, had this to say about Wayne LaPierre and the most recent purges.

When the henhouse needs guarding, should we be amazed to see the wolves throwing their support behind the lamest dog left on the farm?

Our enemies in the gun prohibition industry have seen this and have sent out lots of fundraising emails saying the NRA is in trouble. You just know they are secretly wishing that Wayne will keep holding on to his job until it is pried from his cold dead hands.

More On The Purges

The Washington Post has more on the purges at the NRA. It includes comments from Wayne LaPierre, Carolyn Meadows, and Charles Cooper among others. The comments are actually more interesting than the supposed smoking gun texts that were reported in the New York Times.

From Wayne:

“It disturbs me that the NRA’s supposed ‘friends’ — a man I personally recruited to be president of the NRA, our trusted ad agency of four decades, a couple of our attorneys, and a chief lieutenant — would engage in this obviously premeditated extortion scheme to harm our association,” LaPierre said.

Wayne continues to peddle the mythical “extortion” meme as well as pushing the supposed “coup” theme. As to the extortion claim, all we have is the word of Wayne and that of a convicted felon.

From NRA President Carolyn Meadows who thinks Wayne is just the bee’s knees or something like that:

Carolyn Meadows, the NRA’s current president, said in a statement there has been a “malicious smear campaign against the NRA and our leaders.”


“Kernels of ‘truth’ were stripped of context, wrapped in lies, and peddled to the media and unsuspecting audiences,” she said.

Remember that old legal saying that the truth is the absolute defense against libel? If all that has been reported had been a malicious smear (or libel), don’t you think William Brewer III would have started legal proceedings by now so as to earn even more money?

Charles Cooper of Cooper and Kirk did release a statement. He said in the Post:

He “adhered to the highest standards of professionalism and loyalty.”


He said his allegiance was to the nonprofit group, “not to any individual officers or directors of the organization.”


“At every turn, I have advised my client as to my best judgment of the steps that should be taken to advance and protect the best interest of the NRA itself,” Cooper added, declining to comment further.

Given Mr. Cooper’s past positions as both a Supreme Court clerk and as an Assistant Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, I would have expected nothing less from him. He has represented the NRA and fought for the Second Amendment for three decades. There are places his dismissal may well have dire consequences for gun rights.

On Mr. Cooper’s legal ability, Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation noted, ” Charles Cooper and his law firm have done excellent work on Second Amendment issues.”

The key thing to notice about these dismissals and departures is that the attorneys involved have in one way or another crossed William Brewer or are thought to have crossed him. Given he has Wayne’s ear and feeds his paranoid delusions, it is no wonder any possible competitor gets the boot. The worst part about this is that every one of these departures only weakens the NRA when it comes to its core mission of protecting the Second Amendment. It makes one wonder if former NRA Board attorney Steve Hart was correct in his speculation that Brewer could be a “Manchurian candidate”.

The Purge Continues At The NRA

The ascendancy of William Brewer and his law firm at the NRA is almost complete. Danny Hakim of the New York Times reported that Charles Cooper of Cooper and Kirk had been dismissed as an outside counsel to the NRA. Cooper and his firm had handled much of the NRA’s lawsuits in the past number of years.

Now Mr. LaPierre is continuing to purge opponents. On Thursday, the N.R.A. dismissed its longtime outside counsel, Charles J. Cooper, the chairman of the Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk, people with knowledge of the decision said. A second outside counsel and a top in-house counsel resigned. The departures come after an internal inquiry showed that the lawyers were involved in an effort to undermine Mr. LaPierre.

From what I have gathered from multiple sources, the “internal inquiry” consists of Josh Powell and William Brewer dragging people into a room and interrogating them for hours on end. If your inquiry team consists of a business failure and an attorney under an ethical cloud the results will be whatever is most likely to feed Wayne LaPierre’s paranoid fantasy of the day.

But as the informercial says, wait! It gets better.

The N.R.A. is also considering halting payments to its former second in command, Christopher Cox, who left in June but is still on the payroll, said the people, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The article continues with the assertion that Cooper, Cox, and others were secretly working with AckMac as part of the supposed coup to depose Wayne. Hakim in his story says he is working with documents that have come to light as a result of the NRA’s lawsuit against Oliver North. If I had to hazzard a guess, I’d say the documents came from Brewer and his firm as they seem to have Hakim on speed dial.

Hakim concludes his story by writing (and including a link to my blog’s namesake):

The unraveling of lawyers, guns and money coincides with the departures of half a dozen board members in recent weeks. But Mr. LaPierre remains center stage, as polarizing as ever.

“Donald Trump and Wayne LaPierre are made for each other,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, the gun control group started by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. He called them “mirror images” engulfed in “allegations of corruption and mismanagement.”

But Todd Rathner, a member of the N.R.A.’s board, said, “Wayne is leading and proving that he has the political juice to get the job done.”

 Given the White House’s backtracking from what Wayne reported of his conversation with President Trump, I’d question Rathner’s last statement. He might have the juice to purge his supposed enemies within the NRA but I sincerely doubt his political effectiveness on the national scene anymore.

A Better Suggestion For The “NRA Mansion”

A couple of days ago the Washington Post broke a story that there had been talk about the NRA buying a $6 million mansion in Dallas for EVP Wayne LaPierre post-Parkland. The NRA is saying that it was Ackerman McQueen’s idea and AckMac is saying it was Wayne’s idea.

The origins of the idea to buy the mansion, its proposed purpose and the reason the deal never went through are now being fiercely disputed by the NRA and Ackerman McQueen, which are locked in a bitter legal fight.

In a statement late Tuesday night, Ackerman McQueen said LaPierre had sought the ad firm’s assistance with the real estate transaction, a proposal it said alarmed company officials. “Actions in this regard led to Ackerman McQueen’s loss of faith in Mr. LaPierre’s decision-making,” the firm said.

For their part, NRA officials said that the real estate purchase was suggested in early 2018 by Ackerman McQueen as an investment that would be managed by the ad firm’s top executives — and that it was ultimately rejected by top NRA leaders.

“The agency introduced Mr. LaPierre to its preferred local real estate agent, directed a tour of multiple homes, and established a company to manage the investment,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in a statement late Wednesday. “No matter, Mr. LaPierre ultimately rejected the opportunity and not one dime of the NRA’s money was spent on this venture.” The LaPierres did not respond to requests for comment.

The New York attorney general’s office is now examining the plan for an NRA-financed mansion as part of its ongoing investigation into the gun lobby’s tax-exempt status, in which it has subpoenaed the group’s financial records, the people said.

According to the Zillow listing, the mansion has 4 bedroom and 9 bathrooms. It overlooks a lake.

Now the idea of an organization have a residence in which to entertain rich donors and to house an executive is not unheard of. Indeed, universities and colleges around the nation do it all the time. If the NRA still wants to think about such a residence, I have a much better suggestion.

The Internal Revenue Service contracts with a company called CWS Marketing to sell seized properties. These properties are often seized due to tax fraud or due to being bought with illegal proceeds from drug or other transactions. As luck would have it CWS is holding an auction next week for a slightly smaller mansion that still has a lake view and is just made for entertaining.

The stately house is located in Mason, Ohio which is a suburb of Cincinnati. How ideal would it be to have the NRA Mansion be located in the same town as the Cincinnati Revolt of 1977. Just think how the location might remind NRA executives that if they didn’t stand up and fly straight they could go the way of Maxwell Rich.

It has a beautiful bar in the basement which is ideal for entertaining.

It also has a media room and a billiards room in the basement.

Moreover, it has some large closets that would fit most, if not all, of Wayne’s custom suits.

The house has a beautiful entry way which would be ideal for welcoming well-heeled donors.

It has a large patio and deck area on the rear of the home overlooking the lake. I think this would be ideal for cocktail parties and other gatherings where the touch is put on donors.

You can see many more pictures as well as the floor plans here.

The Zillow estimate of the value of the home is $1.8. However, with some artful bidding, I’m sure it could be had for much less than that.

A little bit of paint, some new carpeting, and it would be ready to go! Now doesn’t this make more sense than some house in Dallas. By the way the temperature in Dallas right now is 101 deg. while it is a balmy 84 deg. in Mason.