NRA Leaders Bail on Alaska Board Meeting Adventure

USA – -(AmmoLand.com 8-29-19)- Anyone who’s been paying any attention at all, knows that the NRA has been having some problems lately. Actually, they’ve been having issues for a long time, but a bunch of those problems suddenly became very public a few days before their Annual Meeting this past April, and the revelations have been coming fast and furious ever since.

The crux has been that a few people at the top – executives, contractors, and consultants – have been making big bucks off of the millions of small donations that pour in from NRA members around the country. This, along with wasteful spending, some seriously shoddy business practices, and some politicians and bureaucrats who despise the NRA and all we stand for, has also led to a pile of lawsuits and investigations, and a bunch of members mad as hell about the way their money has been and is being spent.

One significant bone of contention – which was raised long before all the rest of this stuff hit the fan – was a plan to hold the 2019 Fall Board of Directors Meeting, not in Virginia, near headquarters, as these meetings usually are, but in Anchorage, Alaska. Original plans reportedly included fishing excursions, cruises, and other such non-mission-critical activities. But these extracurricular plans were canceled after members raised a hue and cry about costs, especially in light of reports of the Association’s maxed out lines of credit and negative net worth, bolstered by a flood of fundraising letters claiming that the Association is on the verge of bankruptcy, so send money now!!!

The whole idea of holding the meeting in Alaska was challenged, but those objections were rebuffed with claims that it costs little more to fly Directors to Anchorage, and much less to house them in a hotel there, as opposed to flights and housing for them in Northern Virginia. Of course that doesn’t include the costs of transporting and housing a number of NRA staff, who live in Virginia and wouldn’t need flights or hotels if the meeting were held there, but when a Director raised the issue with the NRA Treasurer and Secretary back in May, he was informed that canceling reservations in Alaska would cost the Association almost $100k, and that even finding a venue and rooms for the 76 (now 69?) Directors (and how many other committee members?) would be almost impossible on such short notice.

So now, three months later, and with three months shorter notice, the NRA has decided that, due to the threat of Congress taking up gun control in the next couple of weeks, they can’t afford to be away from D.C. at this critical time. So they have canceled the Anchorage Board Meeting, and are rescheduling the meeting to be held in Virginia, at a so-far unnamed location.

But who exactly, is so desperately needed in D.C., and are those same people desperately need at the Board of Director’s Meeting?

Only a handful of people can legally lobby on the NRA’s behalf, and those few people have only a few staff members that assist them. It certainly doesn’t help that Chris Cox and his chief deputy were run out of NRA-ILA over the past two months, leaving the “B-Team” to man the trenches. But of course, the NRA still has Wayne LaPierre to lead and direct the lobbying effort. While it’s helpful for Directors to hear from executive staff when formulating decisions about legislative policy and budgets, it’s likely that such duties could be handled by someone lower on the totem pole, or via telephone if needed. Really, there’s only one person who would probably be considered indispensable both on the lobbying front and at the Board of Directors meeting – Wayne LaPierre.

So this actually boiled down to a matter of Wayne LaPierre needing to be in D.C., while the Board was meeting in Alaska?

They couldn’t justify the change a year ago when people were raising objections about the expense. They couldn’t justify the switch four months ago when it was clear that the finances were crashing and members were furious. But suddenly, just weeks before the scheduled meeting, the decision is made that the meeting must be changed so that Wayne LaPierre can personally attend, without leaving the D.C. area?

But why does LaPierre need to be at the Board meeting? He has a very well-paid Chief of Staff that should be able to answer any questions about finances, management policies, or the myriad lawsuits the NRA is currently involved in. He also has a $100,000 per day attorney who seems to be representing him personally in all things, so between the two of them and a telephone, what is the urgency of LaPierre’s attendance?

Another critical question that every Director should be asking right now is; “Who made this decision?” The bylaws say this meeting should be held approximately 120 days after the Members’ Meeting and that “The exact time and place of each meeting may be determined by the Board of Directors at the previous meeting, reasonable notice being given.” Obviously, the entire board didn’t make this decision. So was it the Executive Committee? Did the Executive Committee hold an emergency meeting to decide whether to move the meeting so Wayne could attend? And does this email from the Secretary legally constitute “reasonable notice?” Or was this a unilateral decision made by the executive staff – Wayne LaPierre?

There’s no question that gun rights are at risk in the next couple of weeks, and it’s probably prudent for certain key NRA staff to be in D.C. to hold politicians’ hands and keep them from doing something stupid. What is in question is what that has to do with the Board of Directors meeting in Alaska, and whether the absence of a few key NRA staffers from that meeting is worth flushing the $100k+ that the move is reportedly costing the Association.

I opposed the Board Meeting being held in Alaska in the first place, and I lobbied for it to be changed back to the Northern Virginia area where most NRA staffers live, and where most of NRA’s business is done. But I seriously question this sudden reversal, and the expense it entails – assuming they were telling the truth when they said it would cost $100k – for no better reason, apparently, than that Wayne LaPierre doesn’t trust the Board of Directors meeting without his personal supervision.

Isn’t LaPierre supposed to work at the pleasure of the Board, or did I get that backwards?