Opinion By Jeff Knox
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The National Rifle Association is in serious trouble, and the NRA Board of Directors has only two options to save America's biggest civil rights organization.
Option 1. A majority of the Board circles the wagons in defense of Wayne LaPierre and his pals and tries to weather the storm. (They’ll fail, and the whole ship will sink.)
Option 2. A majority of the Board fires LaPierre and other executives (or accepts their resignations) and nullifies their contracts, suspends all vendor contracts pending thorough review and renegotiation, and purges culpable members of their own body – demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding NRA assets on behalf of the membership. (Plugging the holes and possibly saving the ship.)
For those who might be playing catch-up on this story, you can read my previous article and the links contained in it, but here’s the short version of the situation:
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, along with fellow executives and outside contractors, (in particular Advertising agency Ackerman McQueen) has been recklessly shoveling money out of NRA coffers for decades – to the tune of possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. This has been done with the complicity of some of the NRA’s elected directors, the willful ignorance of others, and the active resistance of a few more.
The chicanery, mostly in the form of inflated executive salaries, sweetheart deals to friends and family, and routine payments to vendors for unspecified services, raised objections among loyal NRA staff members, but their questions and concerns were met with hostility and retribution. My father raised these exact concerns over 20 years ago when he was on the NRA Board of Directors, only to be pushed out of the leadership. As the problems got worse in recent years, NRA fell under increased scrutiny from reporters and regulators, leading some staff members to redouble efforts to raise alarms to the appropriate board committees. But these board members continued to sweep the improprieties under the rug, even after strong warnings from outside counsel that the organization was at risk of severe damage, particularly from New York regulators.
As a nonprofit chartered in New York, the NRA falls under New York law and the purview of the NRA-hating NY Attorney General. She has frequently expressed her desire to tear down the organization, and has been signaling a pending investigation into NRA finances.
In an effort to save the organization, some staff and former employees reluctantly shared some of their evidence with reporters, and a bombshell expose’ was published in The New Yorker in mid-April, just days after the NRA had filed a lawsuit against their long-time PR firm, Ackerman McQueen, suggesting that Ack-Mack had been taking advantage of some lax billing and conflict of interest policies at NRA. This was an obvious attempt to deflect blame for NRA’s financial woes – over $30 million in the red – and financial improprieties away from LaPierre and his executive team. All of this was followed by a formal request from Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun conglomerate, calling on the IRS to launch a formal audit of the NRA’s tax exempt status.
There can be little doubt that the New York AG and others in positions of power will try to dismantle the NRA, regardless of what the board does. Our enemies see that we are wounded, and the vultures are circling. By cleaning their own house before any formal investigation, the board would demonstrate that they are living up to their fiduciary responsibilities, and that would go a long way toward mitigating the long-term damage from regulators.
The current NRA Board of Directors have a slim chance of saving the NRA from total ruin, but they must act swiftly and decisively.
They must expunge everyone involved in even the appearance of corruption. Including board members who failed in their oversight obligations and individuals like Josh Powell the genius behind many of the NRA's recent disasters like Carry Guard and a known manipulator of Wayne LaPierre's decision making. They must halt all outside contracts until they can be thoroughly reviewed and either canceled or renegotiated. As much as possible needs to be brought in-house and run under the direct oversight of the board. This action may mean the end of things like Ackerman McQueen run NRA-TV, so do not be surprised if they pack up shop one day soon.
All of the significant, life-threatening issues facing NRA revolve around just three operational areas: PR, fundraising, and political spending. Suspending operations in those three areas, and bringing them under tight, in-house control for the immediate future, would put the association back on stable ground and allow it to continue operating effectively.
There will undoubtedly be repercussions from all of this, including fines, sanctions, lawsuits, and possibly criminal indictments, but all of those repercussions are on their way, regardless of what the board does now. The difference is whether those consequences will be levied against an organization that still has the people who created those problems at the helm – people who will be using NRA resources to cover their tails – or an organization that has policed itself and taken corrective action to address its problems.
As I stated at the outset, the NRA Board of Directors has only two choices. They can cry “unity, unity” or call it another “Knox take over attempt” all the while rallying around the culprits who caused the problems, and let the ship sink to leave membership and our bill of rights stranded.
Or they can throw the known miscreants overboard, plug the holes, and get busy bailing because only then will membership will jump in and help right the ship.
The next board of Board of Directors meeting is this coming Monday April 29th 2019. Make your voices heard. You can have an impact on that decision by contacting your NRA directors ([email protected]) and the leaders of your NRA affiliated state association, to let them know what you want to see happen.
(Name of Board Member or Attn NRA Board of Directors)
NRA Office of the Secretary
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA, 22030
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.