“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 The Audit Committee, which had approved the arrangement, later rescinded their approval in May 2019 after the conflict between Wayne LaPierre and Col.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.

More NY Subpoenas For The NRA

Danny Hakim of The New York Times is reporting that NY Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) issued new subpoenas to the National Rifle Association last week. While I have been keeping up with issues related to the NRA, I missed this.

The subpoena, which was described to The New York Times, was issued last week and covers at least four areas, including campaign finance, payments made to board members and tax compliance. Because the N.R.A. is chartered in New York and the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, has a range of enforcement options, the investigation has alarmed N.R.A. officials already grappling with infighting and litigation. The same office brought a case last year that led to the shuttering of President Trump’s foundation.

Among the documents sought by the subpoena are records related to transfers among N.R.A.-controlled entities, including the N.R.A. Foundation, an affiliated charity. Recent tax filings show that the N.R.A. diverted $36 million last year from the foundation in various ways, far more than ever before, raising concerns among tax experts. The transfers came as the N.R.A. experienced financial strains and challenges from gun-control groups, which outspent the organization in the 2018 midterm elections. An earlier analysis by The Times found that the foundation had transferred more than $200 million to the N.R.A. between 2010 and 2017.

The NRA Foundation, you may remember, is now under an investigation by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine (D-DC). The NRA Foundation is chartered in the District of Columbia.

The New York investigation also is seeking internal documents related to the NRA’s filings with the Federal Election Commission as well as to communication with two political consulting firms. Those firms, Starboard Strategic and OnMessage, are somewhat intertwined. The Cult of Personality known as Giffords has sued the FEC alleging that the NRA paid money to Starboard Strategic as a means to funnel money to Republicans using OnMessage.

The New York Attorney General’s Office had no comments on the subpoenas.

However, NBC reports this response from the NRA outside counsel William Brewer III.

“Of course, the financial records of the NRA and affiliates were audited and reported in tax filings, in accordance with state and federal regulations — a fact that underscores the Association’s commitment to good governance,” Brewer said. “It is easy to understand why the NRA believes that the NYAG’s zeal with respect to this inquiry reflects the investigation’s partisan purpose — not an actual concern that the NRA is not effectively using its assets to pursue its members interests.”

“Regrettably, the NYAG seems to credit hollow rants by a handful of actors who are no longer associated with the NRA,” Brewer continued.

While Brewer seems to dismiss the actions of the NY Attorney General and her office saying it has “a partisan purpose”, she does have extraordinary powers when it comes to non-profit organizations chartered in the state. This includes substantial fines and even the possible dissolution of the NRA. If any of the current or former member of the Board are just sloughing this off as a partisan witch hunt, they are doing so at their peril.

This is serious business. I can’t say that it would not have come up if the Board had been doing their due diligence and taking their fiduciary responsibilities seriously. However, it would have been easier to dismiss as having a “partisan purpose.”

“His contributions to the NRA have been transformative.”

“Wayne LaPierre’s compensation reflects his enormous contributions to our members and the freedoms for which they fight,” NRA President Carolyn Meadows said in a statement. “His contributions to the NRA have been transformative.”

The statement from Mrs. Meadows come in response to reports in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post about Wayne LaPierre’s reported compensation in 2018. This comes from the not-yet public Form 990. That form is a financial report that all not-for-profits must file with the Internal Revenue Service annually.

The AP reports:

According to the filings, known as 990s, longtime NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s total compensation rose to more than $2 million. His base salary went from $1.17 million to $1.27 million, he received a bonus of about $455,000, and he got about $366,000 from a deferred compensation plan, according to the documents cited in media reports.

The story from the Wall Street Journal notes that revenues rose 13% while expenses rose 7% for the year. It also noted that Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, was paid $13.8 million in legal fees making it that third-largest NRA vendor. The largest vendor for 2018 was, as may be expected, Ackerman McQueen.

Ackerman was the largest outside vendor, having been paid $32 million, plus $6.3 million for out-of-pocket expenses, including media buys and “reimbursement of travel and business expenses.”

Given past reports regarding LaPierre’s use of AckMac to disguise his actual spending, I wonder how much of the reimbursement was for his personal expenses.

In addition to the reports on LaPierre’s compensation was this note in the Washington Post on the monies spent by NRA-ILA.

Spending by the political arm of the NRA dropped from $47.1 million in 2014 to $32.51 million in 2018, the filings show. That was the midterm election in which Democrats took over the House and gun-control groups outspent the gun lobby for the first time.

That is very concerning. The monies spent – or in my opinion, wasted – on Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, could have been used to support the campaigns of pro-gun candidates.

I will be requesting a copy of the 2018 Form 990 from the NRA Secretary’s Office. I have a feeling that it will contain many more unwelcome revelations.

As to the comment from Mrs. Meadows with which I started this post, I agree with her last sentence. LaPierre has been transformative for the NRA. However, if the last few years are any indication, it is not in the way that Meadows means or that you and I would want.

NOTE: If any of my readers has a copy of the 2018 Form 990 or a link to it, please send to me at jpr9954 AT gmail DOT com.

NRA Drops Lawsuit Against San Francisco

The NRA officially dropped their lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco yesterday. The lawsuit was brought due to a resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors branding the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization”.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(i), Plaintiff the National Rifle Association of America voluntarily dismisses without prejudice the above-entitled action against all Defendants. This notice of dismissal is being filed with the Court before service by Defendants of either an answer or a motion for summary judgment.

San Francisco, in their reply to the original complaint, contended their resolution was a “statement of policy” and “non-binding”.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Mayor London Breed had already told city staff that the measure did not limit the city’s dealings with any vendors doing business with the NRA. Stefani said her resolution was a legitimate public denunciation with no binding consequences.

At the time Mayor Breed made her statement that the resolution would not impact dealings with vendors, NRA outside counsel William Brewer III indicated that the lawsuit would continue until the the resolution was formally revoked. As of yesterday, the resolution had not been revoked but nonetheless the case was dismissed.

Both sides are now claiming victory in the lawsuit.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera issues a short statement that said:

“We’re pleased the NRA backed down on its frivolous lawsuit. This was a baseless attempt to silence San Francisco’s valid criticisms of the NRA and distract from the gun violence epidemic facing our country. San Francisco will never be intimidated by the NRA. If the NRA doesn’t want to be publicly condemned for its actions, it should stop sabotaging common sense gun safety regulations that would protect untold numbers of Americans every year, like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines.” 

The NRA and its attorney proclaimed victory in a multipart Twitter post:

Today the NRA withdrew its lawsuit in SF – and now celebrates the important victory it obtained on behalf of its members. As has been widely reported, after the Association challenged the unconstitutional resolution, the City beat a hasty retreat and backed down from its wildly illegal blacklisting scheme. The censors are on notice. The NRA will always fight for the Constitution, and will re-file if the City tries anything like this in the future.

So it appears that each side got a participation trophy allowing both sides to claim victory. The NRA got San Francisco to declare that the resolution was non-binding and San Francisco got the lawsuit dismissed without officially revoking the resolution.

I don’t think anyone can question that the NRA had to sue San Francisco in this case. However, I did find it interesting that the NRA didn’t use attorney Chuck Michel and his firm to handle the lawsuit. Michel and Associates has traditionally been the NRA’s go-to law firm for California related cases. Instead they used Las Vegas based Garman Turner Gordon as their attorney on the ground and Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, as “of counsel”.

AckMac’s Counter-claim Makes Interesting Reading

I don’t know which side is telling the truth in the divorce between the NRA and AckMac. It could be neither of them. It could be both sides depending upon their perception of the issues.

I will note that the AckMac description of the influence on Wayne LaPierre by William Brewer III does strongly correlate with what insiders have told me. Brewer was described to have isolated LaPierre from long time friends and associates and fed his paranoia.

That said, the narrative in Ackerman McQueen’s reply and counter-claim filed on October 1st makes for interesting reading. Of particular interest are pages 19 through 42. The rest is mostly legalese. I have embedded it below. If you click on the heading, you can also download it to read later.

Ackerman McQueen Texas Coun… by Stephen Gutowski on Scribd

NRA Wins, Ollie Loses On Reimbursements

The National Rifles Association will not have to pay former NRA President Oliver North’s legal bills. That was the ruling today by Justice Joel Cohen in the lawsuit brought by the NRA seeking a declaratory judgement. Col. North had sought indemnification for legal expenses incurred as a result subpoenas in the second Ack-Mac case and the Senate Finance Committee’s request for documents.

From Bloomberg.com:

Justice Joel Cohen said Thursday that the gun rights group isn’t required under its internal rules or state bylaws to indemnify North for expenses he’s incurring as a witness in legal matters triggered by the infighting, including a probe of the NRA’s nonprofit status by New York’s attorney general.


The turmoil began when North alleged that Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s longtime leader and public face, used the NRA to enrich himself, an accusation LaPierre denied. North was accused of trying to overthrow him.


Ruling from the bench, Cohen said the case boiled down to the meaning of a 93-word sentence in the NRA’s bylaws and didn’t hinge on allegations between the parties, including the group’s claim that North acted in bad faith when he began looking into alleged wrongdoing at the organization.


“No sentence should be 93 words long, but once you wade through it, the meaning is clear,” Cohen said. “Colonel North’s reading would require something close to a blank check, and that’s just not what the bylaw says.”

As of this writing, the NY State Courts Electronic Filing system does not have the actual ruling posted.

As might be expected, NRA outside counsel William Brewer III called this a “resounding win” for the NRA. What would be interesting to know is how much Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors billed to handle this case. It would also be interesting to know what the legal bills submitted by Col. North amounted to by comparison.

This case was on the surface about whether Col. North was entitled to indemnification or reimbursements of his legal bills incurred. Below the surface you have a very successful effort to get rid of Chris Cox who was a potential successor to Wayne LaPierre. It also consolidated the hold that Brewer has over LaPierre by damaging those who were independent of Brewer or who opposed him. You see more and more of that coming out as time has passed.

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.

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.

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”.