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.

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.

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.

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.

Apples To Associations

A friend sent me this today. It is a take-off on probably the most famous Super Bowl advertisement of all time. If you’ve never seen it, you can see the original on YouTube.

1984

Today, we celebrate the first glorious manifestation of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure greed—where any Officer, Director, Vendor, Consultant or other Snout-in-the-Trough may profit, secure from the vermin purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one Official Family, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. The Cult of the Personality shall prevail!

2019

BRING ON THE GIRL WITH THE SLEDGEHAMMER!

h/t Nathan K.