Tombstone, AZ- -(Ammoland.com)- On May 2, 2022, the New York Attorney General’s Office filed its Second Amended Complaint against the National Rifle Association.
Not only the Association but its Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre, Secretary, and General Counsel John Frazer, Former Treasurer and CFO Wilson “Woody” Philips, and Former Deputy CEO Josh Powell.
As with the original complaint and the previous amended complaint, this one is full of very specific, largely verifiable, and utterly damning charges against NRA’s top officers and executives. Many of the previous accusations have been admitted to by some of the various parties, while Woody Phillips has refused to answer most questions, based on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
It needs to be understood that LaPierre and the others are not named in the suit based on their positions within the NRA, as when someone sues a state and names the Attorney General or the governor as a representative of the state. The four named defendants were named for specific actions each is accused of, and the NRA itself is named for failing to stop them. With that in mind, legal experts said early on that the NRA’s best defense against the suit would be to adopt the following policies:
- Remove the named defendants from any position of power within the Association – particularly any position that would allow any of them to have any oversight or influence over the Association’s legal strategy in battling the suit.
- Initiate a thorough internal investigation by a Board-appointed committee with the power to get answers to its questions.
- Adopt a policy of full cooperation and transparency working with state regulators.
Institute strict policy and oversight rules to correct and avoid future problems, that would be backed up by consequential enforcement.
- Plead victim status to the court, declaring that, if the named defendants (or others) abused their positions, then the NRA was the victim, not the perpetrator, and therefore should not be penalized.
A genuine response to the allegations would go a long way toward blunting the very real political motivations involved in the suit. New York Attorney General Letitia James is a highly motivated political actor, and she has not been shy about expressing her animosity toward the NRA, its mission, and its members. The Association should deal cautiously with her office, and request that the judge make sure that this personal and political bias doesn’t taint the case or cause undue injury to the Association.
This animosity on the part of AG James has actually been one of the strongest arguments from defenders and apologists of Wayne LaPierre. They point to James’s hatred of the NRA, and her political ambitions, and conclude that the whole case is just trumped-up lies and political theater.
The problem with that assertion is that LaPierre himself has admitted under oath that most of the charges against him are true.
He admits to billing the NRA for personal travel for himself and his family. He admits to improperly accepting gifts from major vendors, and awarding those same vendors multi-million-dollar contracts with no competitive bidding. He admits to giving multi-million-dollar severance packages to retiring and even fired employees, usually in exchange for them signing a strict nondisclosure agreement about NRA activities.
And he admits to giving contracts to family members and former staffers, often with little or no performance requirement attached. He also admits to doing all of this without clearing it, or even reporting it, through or to, the NRA Board, as required by state law and NRA policy.
His main defense in all of this, is to claim that either, it wasn’t improper, he didn’t know it was improper, and/or he didn’t know what other people were doing. Not a very impressive defense from a CEO who’s being paid in excess of $1.6 million per year.
One is reminded of Bart Simpson’s all-purpose defense: “Nobody saw me! I wasn’t there! You can’t prove a thing!”
So the big question is: Why is Wayne LaPierre still controlling the NRA?
Why would any organization facing existential threats – most of those threats based on accusations of misconduct and dereliction on the part of its chief executive – allow that executive to continue to hold inordinate sway over the organization? And why would any organization facing this kind of turmoil in its executive offices allow that same executive to retain control over the legal strategy of the organization in addressing the charges?
An equally perplexing question, is why the Board has so far not even attempted to rein in its rogue executives?
As noted above, NY AG Letitia James hates the NRA and all it stands for, and she wants to see it destroyed. The judge in the case has already taken dissolution of the Association off the table as a potential punishment, should the AG win her case. Her latest Amended Complaint focuses less on the NRA as a target, and more on the officers and directors – as it should – with the complaint calling for severe financial penalties and restitution payments from the Association’s wayward “leaders.” The complaint calls for the removal of LaPierre and his followers, but only as part of the penalty phase of the trial. That isn’t going to happen until sometime next year.
Meanwhile, LaPierre and company remain in control of the Associations resources, and most importantly, in control of its legal strategy – which amounts to shoveling millions of dollars into the pockets of New York lawyer William Brewer, who was originally hired by LaPierre to head off a threatened lawsuit from the NY AG back in 2018. Obviously Brewer failed in that mission, but he’s been very successful at extracting cash from the Association.
Brewer has reportedly been drawing over $2 million per month, averaging around $30 million per year, for the past 3 years. At the same time, NRA membership numbers have been in a nosedive, fundraising has collapsed, and the Association has cut practically all of its core programs to the bone.
If LaPierre and his enablers were to be removed from power now, the Association might do what they should have done from the beginning: Claim victim status and reorganize, without the crippling payments to the Brewer law firm. With that, they should be able to start recovering membership and see improvements in their fundraising, not to mention begin to recover the trust of its members. But that would not be seen as a good thing by Letitia James. Those steep legal bills, along with the potential of a court-mandated lawsuit against the NRA from the NRA Foundation, if things go as expected in a lawsuit filed by the AG of Washington DC, could totally bankrupt the NRA, and that would be a big win for Letitia James.
I’m not an attorney, but I’ve spoken with knowledgeable attorneys, and they keep coming back to the need for the NRA to distance itself from the accused “leaders,” even if only with temporary furloughs or compartmentalizing them away from certain aspects of the Association, particularly the legal strategy. They have also suggested that the NY AG could – and should – force this action by filing a request for partial summary judgment based on the admissions already submitted by LaPierre and some of his supporters. LaPierre has admitted to a variety of offenses, any one of which would fully justify his removal from office. Other NRA “leaders” have also admitted to various transgressions and failures in their fiduciary duties. With those admissions, it should not be difficult to convince the judge to remove LaPierre and the offending officers on the basis that they are using the NRA’s resources to protect LaPierre and themselves, rather than fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities to the NRA and its members.
Wayne LaPierre, along with NRA President Charles Cotton, 1st VP Willes Lee, and 2nd VP David Coy, should be the subjects of a motion pointing out that they have all admitted to actions that should disqualify them from participating in the management of the Association, and especially anything to do with setting legal strategy.
If protecting the assets and interests of the Association’s members is of any concern at all to the attorneys in the NY AG’s Office – as the law states are their primary obligation – then they would have such a motion filed within days.
While we would hope that such a motion would be filed and addressed by the court prior to the Members’ Meeting in Houston on May 28, 2022, that seems unlikely, so NRA members must press the attack from different directions. The primary tactic must be to pressure NRA Directors to do what they should have done at least three years ago: Remove Wayne LaPierre. The best opportunity for the Board to take this action will be at the Board meeting on Monday following the Members’ Meeting. At that time, it will only take a simple majority of Directors to elect new leadership.
New NRA Leadership ~ LTC Allen West?
A group of concerned NRA members, including former and current members of the Board of Directors, want to draft former Director, LTC Allen West to run for the Executive Vice President position at the meeting in Houston. West has the support of many and could work with reformers to clean up the NRA and get it back on the right track, and he has a record of integrity and effectiveness.
Along with electing LTC West to the position of Executive Vice President, the Board needs to elect a slate of officers to back West in his reform efforts, and to lead the NRA’s legal strategy going forward. All of this makes it absolutely critical that every NRA Director attend the meetings in Houston, and be prepared to stand up for the membership. It’s equally critical that NRA members attend the Members’ Meeting on Saturday the 28th, 2022, to call out the lies and corruption, and to put some starch into the backs of the Directors. We also have a campaign underway to recruit, nominate, and elect a slate of reform candidates for the Board of Directors in the 2023 election.
Much more information about all of this is posted on our website, www.FirearmsCoalition.org, with both the first and second Amended Complaints, along with the Responses to the first one from LaPierre and the NRA. It’s a lot to digest, but it’s critical reading for anyone concerned about the future of the NRA.
I hope to see you in Houston.
NYS Second Amended Complaint against the National Rifle Association, May 2022
2020 People of the State of NY v NRA & Co May 2022 Amended