“Will No One Rid Me Of This Meddlesome Priest?”

The quote in the title is attributed to King Henry II of England with reference to his dispute with Thomas a’Becket who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. In response, four Norman knights traveled from Normandy to Canterbury, confronted Thomas, and ultimately killed him. The murder in 1170 was later made into plays by T. S. Eliot and Jean Anouilh as well as a movie with Richard Burton.

This is not meant to be a history or literature lesson. Rather a lawsuit by the NRA against Oliver North in NY Supreme Court, County of Albany made me think of that quote.

I could almost hear Wayne LaPierre saying, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome president.” To which, William Brewer III replied, “I will, my liege!”

The complaint, much of which is redacted, seeks to have Oliver North removed from the NRA Board of Directors. According to a footnote, they redacted much of the complaint because it might contain information that Col. North might argue should be kept under seal.

The complaint alleges that Col. North has an “irreconcilable conflict” due to his employment with Ackerman McQueen and his membership on the Board of Directors. The Audit Committee, which had approved the arrangement, later rescinded their approval in May 2019 after the conflict between Wayne LaPierre and Col. North had come to a head.

The NRA is seeking a declaration that Col. North’s refusal to terminate his employment with Ackerman McQueen “was an election by him to terminate his NRA Board membership.” Here is where I might note that Col. North was the leading vote-getter in the 2019 NRA Board of Director election.

The attorneys bringing he lawsuit on behalf are Svetlana Eisenberg and William Brewer III of Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors.

When Pete Brownell resigned as President of the NRA in 2018, a great effort was made to get Col. North to be President. At the time, he was under contract to Fox News and would have to resign that in order to become NRA President. I have been told by multiple insiders as well as have seen in court filings that Wayne LaPierre actually negotiated Col. North’s contract with Ackerman McQueen. The whole “they won’t give us the contract” so we can know what conflicts Ollie has is a charade as is the declaration by the Audit Committee.

In reality, the conflict is between Wayne LaPierre, his cronies on the Board, and his attorney who is sucking the NRA dry and those who wanted to return the NRA to effectiveness and to see Brewer gone.

The NRA’s Lack Of A Succession Plan

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.

This has been at the back of my mind regarding the NRA for a long time now. What brought it to the forefront was a post by Jeff Knox on the lack of new leadership options for the NRA and its cloudy future.

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.

Chris Cox.

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.

Ollie North.

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“.

Kyle Weaver.

Out. Weaver was the Executive Director of General Operations who got replaced by Josh Powell. He is now the President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Weaver had spent 18 years with the NRA in positions of ever increasing responsibility. The RMEF gets a 4 star rating from the Charity Navigator which is the highest possible. By contrast, the NRA is under a “concern advisory” from them.

If you need an example of a corporation that had good succession planning, look at General Electric. It has been the focus of many case studies on how to do succession planning. Jack Welch who served as CEO of GE for 20 years was known for grooming potential successors. He did such a good job that those who lost out on succeeding him at GE where snapped up by other companies.

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.

Dan Boren Makes Eight

There are times in life when you say, “I’m tired of taking this shit.” Dan Boren had to be there when he resigned from the NRA and NRA Board of Directors yesterday.

Leadership portrait of Dan Boren Date taken: August 8, 2013 Photographer: Marcy Gray

Boren’s resignation makes the eighth director to resign from the NRA Board of Directors since the beginning of the year.

Tom King, president of the NY State Rifle and Pistol Association and a NRA Board member, reportedly had filed an ethics complaint against Boren. Taken with a grain of salt given he is a LaPierre loyalist, he told Newsweek:

“Mr. Boren resigned in the face of an ethics complaint, which I filed, that cites troubling communications and serious allegations linking him to suspected extortion against the NRA and billing fraud by the NRA’s former vendor, Ackerman McQueen,” NRA board member Tom King told Newsweek in a written statement. “Under these circumstances, this news is not surprising.”

That was just the latest in actions aimed at Boren. In the case aimed at avoiding paying Oliver North’s legal bills, the NRA contended that Boren had somehow conspired with Col. North in the supposed “coup attempt”.

Then, in the NRA’s Federal case against Ackerman McQueen, they named him a “non-party co-conspirator” along with Col. North.

Mr. Boren entered into an agreement, combination, and/or conspiracy with the Defendants for the purpose of carrying out the fraudulent behavior, the attempt to de-railing the resulting NRA investigation, and the attempt to extort Mr. LaPierre and the NRA alleged herein. In addition, there exists a small group comprising former vendors, professionals, and consultants of the NRA whose economic incentives, like AMc’s, were challenged by the NRA investigation and, like Mr. Boren, joined the agreement, combination, and/or conspiracy.

My sources told me after the NRA Annual Meeting, that in their opinion, Boren had hoped to act as an intermediary to try and salvage the multi-decades relationship between the NRA and AckMac. There was nothing unsavory about his actions.

Boren was named Oklahoma president and Chief Banking Officer of First United Bank on October 10th. From The Oklahoman:

Boren, 46, who has spent nearly seven years as president of corporate development for the Chickasaw Nation, will begin work in early January at First United. The bank is based in Durant and has locations in Oklahoma and Texas.


First United CEO Greg Massey said, “I am excited to have Dan join our team. His passion for serving Oklahoma aligns perfectly with our purpose at First United.”

Boren, a Blue Dog Democrat, served four terms in Congress representing a district in eastern Oklahoma from 2005 until 2013. According to The Oklahoman, he had been considering a run for governor of Oklahoma last year. They note he hasn’t ruled out running for office in the future.

Taken on the whole, I’d say the NRA really needed a man like Boren more than he needed them. As a Democrat, he gave them at least some semblance of being bi-partisan. As a Congressman, even though it is now former Congressman, he gave them a strong influence on Capitol Hill. When you add that to his role with a large Indian tribe and his new job in banking, he brought a lot to the table.

What did he get in return for what he gave the NRA? A pile of paranoid crap. I’m surprised he didn’t resign earlier. I sure as hell would have and done so with a clear conscience.

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.

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game

The legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel is reported to have said, “Can’t anybody here play this game”, in reference to the abysmal performance of the 1962 New York Mets. That became the name of a book by Jimmy Breslin telling the story of that season.

https://www.baseballhistorycomesalive.com/the-great-yankee-manager-casey-stengel/

After reading of Rob Pincus’ experiences yesterday at the preliminaries of the NRA Board Meeting, the Stengel quote was the first thing that came to mind.

After checking in at the security desk around 12:30pm, Rob was removed from the meeting area…. not a meeting room, not from trying to steal a free lunch with the Directors… from the entire meeting area at the hotel. He was at first told that he could not come back until Saturday Morning for the main Board Meeting. After challenging that he believed that Members were allowed to attend Committee Meetings, security relented and said he could return at 1:30 on the afternoon, but would not provide any details about what committees were meeting or in which specific rooms.


Rob returned to the meeting area at 1:30pm, the scheduled time for the Legal Affairs Committee. He was greeted by the same security supervisor that escorted him out of the area less than an hour before. He was told specifically where to sit in the room… and a security guard at next to him.

It only gets worse in Rob’s own words.

“The thing that is bothering me right now: NRA claims 5 million Members. Members are ostensibly allowed to attend these meetings. Social media is on fire in regard to the crisis at the organization. There was only one committee meeting this afternoon, one of the most important ones, the Legal Affairs Committee.


There were less than 10 empty chairs in the room and I was basically given a personal security escort. The NRA wasn’t prepared for Members to attend, nor did they appear to want Members to attend.


After the meeting went into Executive Session, I went to the Secretary’s Office adjacent to the meeting room to request a schedule of the meetings scheduled for the next day and, as the staffer was writing them down for me, Security showed up and told me I needed to leave. Rudely. They would not even let the staffer provide me with the information. At that point, NRA Director Robert Brown came over to see what was going on and Security insisted that I leave the entire meeting area forcing the Director to walk out into the hallway to finish his conversation with me. Security was smug and increasingly aggressive as the short moment went on.”

This is NOT how to play the game. All it does is show fear and you never want to show fear.

Here is how it should have gone.

“Mr. Pincus, thank you for registering and attending. We rarely get members coming to these meetings. We are glad to have you here.”

“Here is a list of the committee meeting and times. Which committee meeting did you want to attend first? Oh, the Legal Affairs Committee? Bob (big security guard) here will show you how to get there. The room is somewhat out of the way.”

When the Legal Affairs Committee went into Executive Session, the Chairman should have said, “Mr. Pincus, we are going into Executive Session to discuss (whatever). I hate to do this but I’m going to have to ask you to leave the room. If you’ll head to the Secretary’s desk, I’m sure that they will be happy to point you to other committees. We really do hope to see you again tomorrow at the Board Meeting.”

The proper way to have done all of this was to kill Rob with kindness. Butter should not have melted in their mouths. Even if Rob was aggressive, which I don’t think he was, your goal was to disarm him with politeness.

Treating Rob like some interloper who had dog shit on his shoes was stupid. All it did was show fear and weakness which is the last thing any organization should want to do.

Whoever decided that this was the way to treat Rob or any NRA member who shows up to the meeting deserves to be fired. Immediately if not sooner. It was stupid, it was counterproductive, it was bullying, and it creates more bad PR and attention for the NRA at a time when they can least afford it.

Save The Second Meetup

Save the Second is having a pre-NRA Board Meeting meet-up in Northern Virginia tomorrow evening. I have put their notice below:

The BoD Meeting is quickly approaching. Save The Second is planning a gathering with STS followers and fellow concerned NRA members at the Washington Dulles Airport Hilton on Friday, September 13th at 6:00pm. Yes, that is the same meeting location as the NRA Board of Directors meeting. Not only will you have a chance to meet and discuss NRA issues with like minded members, but we will also be discussing the plan for Saturday morning. Hopefully, we will have the chance to converse with a few NRA Directors of the Board as well. If you plan on attending the meet up on the eve of the BoD meeting, please RSVP on the official Facebook event. This is a night you will not want to miss. 


What: Save The Second Meet-up at the Fall BoD Meeting
When: September, Friday 13, 6:00pm
Where:  Hilton Washington Dulles Airport 13869 Park Center Road Herndon, VA  20171

Remember – Save the Second is the only organization that can reliably get Marion Hammer to show up for a NRA Board meeting!

And she would have you think that they are ineffective. I think not if they can do this!

Thanks For The PR, Marion!

There is a concept in public relations called strategic silence. While normally you want to respond to critics, sometimes it is advisable to do nothing. This is especially true when you are a large organization and the critic is small and not well-known. It is counterproductive.

Marion Hammer obviously never learned this.

Yesterday, the Washington Times ran a commentary by Ms. Hammer attacking Save the Second. It also had a condescending attack by her on Alan Gottlieb of SAF and CCRKBA as well as on the late Neal Knox. Her purpose in this op-ed seems to have been to defend Wayne LaPierre as well as position the NRA as the be all and end all of the Second Amendment.

Some attackers, including some of the NRA’s own members, have created an outfit that calls itself “Save the Second.” 


The organization is most definitely not about saving the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 


It is about destroying the National Rifle Association. Save the Second has never done anything to save the Second Amendment. It was created to oust NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and take control of NRA


Save the Second maliciously encourages the harassment of NRA board members who oppose attempts to oust NRA leadership.

There are many in the Second Amendment community who have not heard of Save the Second. They have now.

Save the Second is a 501(c)(3) non-profit established for the sole purpose of reforming the NRA so that it can be a more effective advocate for the Second Amendment and gun rights.

One of the original founders – Anthony Garcia – was one of the organizers of the successful recall effort in Colorado. (Corrected – I had both Ron Carter and Anthony as organizers while it was only Anthony.) The recall was to replace prominent Democrats who passed universal background checks and a magazine ban. Those Democrats had been funded by Michael Bloomberg and the opposition to their recall was funded by his millions as well. Both Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron were recalled and a third Democrat resigned before she could be recalled.

Ms. Hammer continues:

Leaving the NRA in the hands of a bunch of novices who haven’t done 1 percent of what Wayne has helped the NRA accomplish is a pure recipe for disaster.


You may think they’re well-meaning but they likely couldn’t figure out how to run the NRA or a 50-state legislative operation, period.


From all appearances, Save the Second is just an extension of the 22-year-old failed coup attempt against Wayne by led by the late NRA board member Neal Knox, whose son is gun-rights supporter Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition.

Oh, I think they could figure out how to run a 50-state legislative operation. After all, the blueprint for the NRA’s grassroots efforts did come from former BOD members Tim Knight and Sean Maloney who just happened to work with Ron and Anthony in the Colorado recall effort.

As to the “failed coup attempt” of 1997, this is actually a rewriting of history. I have been going back and re-reading Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War. Just as now, there was a call for financial audits as well as a “management audit” ordered by the NRA Board of Directors in 1996. There were serious concerns about a decline in assets and a “failure to manage, poor internal controls, too much reliance on outside vendors, and too many multi-million dollar agreements without written contracts.” (As an aside, I really suggest buying the Kindle version of this book to learn more.)

Then, as now, the chief resistance to financial openness was Wayne LaPierre. Then, as now, his chief backer was Marion Hammer. The two have a long-term symbiotic relationship which seems to have little to do with protecting the Second Amendment and all about protecting their perks.

Ms. Hammer concludes by saying, ” Our country needs the NRA. And Wayne LaPierre is the only person who can lead us through this hate-storm. ”

She is half right. We do need the NRA. However, we need an effective NRA with an effective Board focused on the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, it seems that the most effective people such as Chris Cox, Jennifer Baker, Emily Cummins, and David Lehman are all gone having been forced out due to Wayne’s paranoia fed by William Brewer III and Josh Powell.

Now that you know about Save the Second thanks to Ms. Hammer, they plan to be at the NRA Board of Director’s meeting this Saturday morning. It is being held at the Hilton Washington Dulles. Save the Second will be presenting the member’s petition calling for a vote on mandatory attendance at NRA Board meetings. If you are in the area, I hope you will attend.

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

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”.