Looking at the nominees for the NRA Board of Directors this year I can't help but be impressed with such a stellar group of people: Scientists, executives, politicians, lawyers, and celebrities, all with the common thread of commitment to the Second Amendment and the shooting sports. What’s really impressive is that the nominees this year are no more outstanding than the other current members of the Board. The National Rifle Association not only has an exceptionally large Board of Directors, with 76 members, but it is composed of some of the most successful and capable individuals in the country. There are a few who have made their names primarily by working diligently on shooting and gun rights issues who do not have very impressive professional résumés, and there are a few whose professional résumés shine, but who have not been particularly active or proven in the trenches of the gun fight. Most though, have excelled in both their professional lives and in the firearms arena.
Some of the current Directors have demonstrated a clear lack of moral fiber on occasion, and I feel that the Board as a whole has been remiss in fulfilling some of their responsibilities in overseeing the financial operations of the organization. Specifically, the outsourcing and contracting practices of the association, which created such a rift a decade ago when Neal Knox and dozens of other committed Directors were effectively ousted from the Board, have still not been properly addressed. Executive pay has grown at exponential rates since then with Wayne LaPierre’s annual compensation jumping from $200,000 to over $1,000,000 in less than a decade. At the same time, the practice of outsourcing much of the PR and fundraising functions has continued and increased rather than bringing those functions in-house to reduce costs and increase control. I am also very disappointed with the Board’s failure to make themselves more accessible and accountable to the members. Several years ago I offered a resolution asking the Board to create an on-line directory of Board members, committee members, and key staff to allow NRA members to more effectively communicate with the leaders and staff of the organization. That resolution was referred to a Board committee and I have never seen any action taken on it.
The bottom line is that NRA has a truly impressive group of men and women serving on our Board of Directors and those people are, for the most part, doing an exceptional job, but they are falling short in a couple of critical areas.
As for recommendations in this year’s election, I really have none. There are a couple of the nominees who I don’t think very highly of, but really, anyone on that list would doubtlessly serve the members as well as anyone else on the list.
I am asking that our readers vote for Bob Viden of New Jersey this year. Bob was endorsed by my father back in 1997 when he first ran for the Board and he has served with distinction ever since. Last year there was a malicious campaign against Viden’s reelection and some of that smear campaign was incorrectly attributed to me. To make it clear that I was never involved in any attacks on Bob, I am endorsing him for reelection this year.
Beyond Bob Viden, I simply recommend that you cast your ballot based on the people you know and know how to reach. Only vote for those candidates that you really want to see on the Board. Keep in mind that almost all of the nominees will be elected. There are 26 open seats and only 34 nominees. Twenty four or twenty five of the nominees are current members of the Board and are almost guaranteed reelection. At best, only 2 or 3 new members will be elected this cycle and those 2 or 3 are not going to have a significant impact on the direction or philosophy of the Board. The best thing you can do to effect change is to vote for just a few nominees and actively lobby the members you know to get them to address the issues that need addressing – beginning with making themselves more accessible to the membership.