NRA Files Second Lawsuit Against Ackerman McQueen (Updated)

The National Rifle Association filed a second lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen yesterday in Alexandria (VA) Circuit Court. The lawsuit accuses Ack-Mac of leaking sensitive documents to the press, of trying to engineer an executive coup, and of seeking to tarnish the reputation and public image of the NRA and its senior executives. The lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages.

According to the Wall Street Journal which was one of the new organizations that had stories on the leaked documents:

The Wall Street Journal was among the media outlets to which the NRA accused Ackerman of “directly or indirectly” leaking confidential information.

The Journal published an article earlier this month about Ackerman McQueen letters sent to the NRA related to Mr. LaPierre’s more than $500,000 in alleged wardrobe and travel expenses. The letters had been posted anonymously on the internet.

A spokesman for Dow Jones & Co. declined to comment. Dow Jones is owned by News Corp, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

In a statement, Ackerman called the new lawsuit “another reckless attempt to scapegoat Ackerman McQueen for the NRA’s own breakdown in governance, compliance and leadership.”

The Daily Beast was the first outlet with the story yesterday afternoon. From their report:

“Over the past year, even as it withheld important documents and information from the NRA, AMc [Ackerman McQueen] readily shared snippets of confidential and proprietary materials with hostile third parties, including the news media–in a series of sordid, out-of-context ‘leaks’ engineered by AMc to harm its client,” the complaint reads.

An Ackerman McQueen spokesperson defended the firm.

“It is a sad day for NRA members that their leadership is more focused on attacking partners than fighting for freedom,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Once again the National Rifle Association leadership’s new lawsuit is another reckless attempt to scapegoat Ackerman McQueen for the NRA’s own breakdown in governance, compliance and leadership. We have done our job to protect the brand for decades and have continued to do so despite shameless and inaccurate attacks on our integrity and our personnel by a leadership group that is desperate to make this a story about anything other than their own failures.”

The story in the Daily Beast goes on to say that the lawsuit said that Ollie North was working as “an employee” of Ackerman McQueen when he said Wayne LaPierre should resign or damaging information would be released.

While I don’t have a copy of the actual complaint yet and thus don’t know who is the attorney of record, this second lawsuit comports with the advice typically given by the NRA’s outside legal counsel William Brewer III.

With regard to Brewer, the Daily Beast reported:

As of press time, the advertising firm has not entered court filings rebutting the NRA’s allegations. As the NRA’s legal fights metastasize, so do its legal bills. Leaked documents authenticated by The Daily Beast indicate that the NRA’s outside lawyer, Bill Brewer, has charged the gun group more than $24 million since signing on with them last year. That number came in a letter North wrote raising concerns about the NRA’s leadership. Outside legal ethics experts who reviewed North’s letter told The Daily Beast it raised serious concerns, and that the bills were “off the charts.”

Charles Cotton, who heads the audit committee of the NRA board, has said North’s claims are incorrect and that the NRA is pleased with Brewer’s work.

“Importantly, the relationship has been viewed, vetted, and approved,” he said in a statement.

Cotton is now the 1st Vice President and the presumptive choice to move into the presidency after Carolyn Meadows. Friends who are active in the gun rights movement in Texas note that Cotton was “anti-open carry and anti-liberty” though they did note Cotton did lash out at the current Speaker of the Texas House who is even worse at the beginning of the current session.

While I will say a pox on both their houses – I’m no fan of either Wayne or Ack-Mac – I see this as a counter-attack to muddy the waters even more. It is also a waste of money and diverts legal attention from the critical battle which is coming. The battle will not be with Ack-Mac, the battle will be with NY Attorney General Letitia James and the NY Charities Bureau to stave off dissolution of the NRA itself. I see that battle as the legal equivalent of the Battle of Stalingrad. The lax oversight of Ack-Mac and Wayne by the board when combined with the lavish salaries and extravagant spending have only served to provide our blood enemies ammunition with which to attack us.

UPDATE:  I was able to get a copy of the complaint and you can read the whole thing here.

Joint North-Childress Letter On Payments To NRA Outside Counsel

Below is the joint letter from then-NRA President Oliver North and then-First VP Richard Childress to John Fraser, NRA General Counsel, and Charles Cotton, Chair of the NRA Board’s Audit Committee (and now First VP), regarding the payments to the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III.

Another board member who shall remain unnamed told me that Brewer could become the NRA’s biggest vendor – more than Ack-Mac – if things keep going this way. He also was very dismissive of his legal abilities, he had concerns about his ethical issues, even more concerns about his sway with Wayne LaPierre, and characterized him as a hustler. A friend who is an attorney in Dallas where Mr. Brewer is located said Brewer was “an asshole”. I will make no judgment on his legal competency as I’m not a lawyer but would say you could get some of the best lawyers in DC like Paul Clement and the firm of Cooper and Kirk for probably less.

The nine page letter is below:

Ollie North’s Letter Read At NRA Meeting Of Members

By now, everyone should know that Ollie North is out as president of the National Rifle Association. I think it came down to a power struggle between Col. North and Wayne LaPierre over the direction of the NRA. Given the glaringly obvious support that LaPierre holds on the Board, North lost this struggle.

The most obvious indication of this was at the Meeting of Members on Saturday morning, April 27th, when the meeting convened and there was no Ollie. After the people on the stage were introduced, then-First VP Richard Childress addressed the meeting and read the following letter from Col. North.

If I remember correctly, LaPierre just sat in his seat on the stage and shook his head a couple of times like he was disgusted. Later, after being glowingly introduced by now-President Carolyn Meadows, he went on to give his typical stump speech which ignored all the financial improprieties and the role of the outside counsel. Since it was apparent that most of the people attending the meeting get 100% of their knowledge of LaPierre from reading his columns in the NRA magazines, he got a standing ovation.

There are a number of other letters that have been posted to the Internet in the last couple of days regarding the NRA’s issues. They are now the basis for yesterday’s article in the Wall Street Journal and other places and I will be posting them. They are all photos of the actual letters. I will post them with little commentary and let you make up your own mind what to make of them.

Ollie North To Be New NRA President

An alternative headline might be “The Triumph of the Staff”.

While I think Ollie North is an OK guy and a believer in the Second Amendment, I just don’t think he is the right person to be the next president of the National Rifle Association. In the release below he is being compared to Charlton Heston. In other words he will be a figurehead. What the NRA needs is not a figurehead but an effective leader in the corporate chairman of the board mold who will hold the hired staff – Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox – accountable. An effective president (or chairman of the board) would have slapped Wayne and Chris down when they sandbagged the board by suggesting regulation of bump fire stocks without consulting the board.

My second objection is North’s age. He is 74 years old. I’m sure he is a very vigorous 74 years old but it reinforces the notion that the NRA is old, white, conservative, and bit out of touch. That’s not the truth of many of the members but appearances matter. As Sebastian notes, “Exciting for whom?”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Third, I think the gun control industry is jumping up and down with glee over the selection of Ollie North. Even though his convictions for gun running in the Iran-Contra scandal were thrown out, he will still be painted as a gun runner. This doesn’t help our cause.

Finally, his attendance record at NRA Board meetings is not stellar. For the eight meetings from January 2015 through May 2017, North only attended three meetings. He had excused absences three times and two unexcused absences. Let’s face it, it sucks.

The NRA has been in reactive mode since Parkland. We have lost more than we’ve gained since then and this is no way to win the war for the Second Amendment. We need to be proactive and I just don’t see the elevation of Ollie North to the presidency of the NRA as going in that direction.

I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But the reality that I’m seeing on the ground right now seems to be saying I’m not wrong.

The full announcement of the North selection:

DALLAS – Lt. Colonel Oliver North, USMC (Ret.) will become President of the National Rifle Association of America within a few weeks, a process the NRA Board of Directors initiated this morning.

“This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association,” said NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre. “Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader. In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”

North said he was eager to take on this new role as soon as his business affairs were put in order. North is retiring from Fox News, effective immediately. “I am honored to have been selected by the NRA Board to soon serve as this great organization’s President,” North said. “I appreciate the board initiating a process that affords me a few weeks to set my affairs in order, and I am eager to hit the ground running as the new NRA President.”

The NRA Board acted quickly to begin the process for North to become President, after former NRA President Pete Brownell announced this morning that, in order to devote his full time and energy to his family business, he had decided not to seek election to a second term. In his letter to the Board, Brownell wholeheartedly endorsed North for President.

“Discussing this with Wayne LaPierre,” Brownell said in the letter, “he suggested we reach out to a warrior amongst our board members, Lt. Colonel Oliver North, to succeed me. Wayne and I feel that in these extraordinary times, a leader with his history as a communicator and resolute defender of the Second Amendment is precisely what the NRA needs. After consulting with NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, First Vice President Childress and Second Vice President Meadows, I can report there is extraordinary support for Lt. Colonel North.”

“Pete has served the NRA with great courage and distinction,” LaPierre said. “I am grateful that he joined me in enthusiastically recommending Oliver North to the Board of Directors.”

After the announcement, NRA First Vice President Richard Childress informed the board that he had multiple commitments in the next several weeks and was unable to be immediately available to serve as interim President. The Board then selected Second Vice President Carolyn Meadows to serve as its interim President. Meadows will step aside in a few weeks, when Lt. Colonel North is prepared to take on his new role as NRA President.

LaPierre congratulated the NRA Board for its action. “The board acted quickly and with great vision,” LaPierre said. “Oliver North is, hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board, to fully engage with our members, and to unflinchingly stand and fight for the great freedoms he has defended his entire life.”

“Oliver North is a true hero and warrior for freedom,” LaPierre said, “and NRA members are proud to stand with him.”

“From Infamy To Victory”

This video which is part of the NRA’s Frontline Series does an excellent job in showing how the United States went from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the signing of the surrender in Tokyo Bay. It is hosted by Ollie North.

Particularly poignant is the interview with Jiro Yakimura. Mr. Yakimura was a Nisei. That is, Mr. Yakimura was a natural born US citizen whose parents had immigrated from Japan. When Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Mr. Yakimura was a college student in Hawaii and was a member of ROTC. In the days that followed, he and his fellow ROTC students were given a 1903 Springfield and sent to guard various spots on Oahu. Then, due to his Japanese ancestry, his services to his country were no longer needed. The story has a somewhat happy ending as Mr. Yakimura was finally able to serve his country as an officer in Army Intelligence in the Pacific.