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04/21/2019 / By JD Heyes
There is an expression that goes, “Don’t let success go to your head.” It seems appropriate to describe what has happened to what used to be the nation’s premier gun rights organization, the National Rifle Association.
As reported by Ammoland, the NRA has filed a lawsuit in Virginia alleging that their public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, which they have used for decades, was not providing detailed billing and did not disclose contracts with members of the Second Amendment org’s staffers and officers that could be construed as conflicts of interest.
That included a contract with NRA president, retired Marine officer, and former Reagan national security figure Oliver North.
Ammoland noted further that as NRA members and board members, the latter of who had no advance warning about the suit, learned of the suit via media reports, another source — The New Yorker — highlighted shady business dealings within the organization that go much deeper than just some misconceptions with a long-time PR firm, and have gone on for much longer. (Related: Hate and hypocrisy: Anti-gun activist threatens to murder GOP lawmaker, NRA members caught on camera.)
The magazine noted that over the winter, members received what sounded like a desperate letter from long-serving NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre lamenting that Leftist regulators were on the verge of destroying the organization, which was founded in November 1871 — in New York City, of all places:
Even as the association has reduced spending on its avowed core mission — gun education, safety, and training — to less than ten percent of its total budget, it has substantially increased its spending on messaging.
The writer, Mike Spies, says that now the NRA has primarily become a media company rather than an organization that mostly trains and educates. The org’s financial problems are due in large part, according to the story, to large salaries of $1 million or more paid to its top voices and executives including North, media personality Dana Loesch, and Colion Noir. “Gratuitous payments” of hundreds of millions of dollars “from the nonprofit’s budget” along with “sweetheart deals and opaque financial arrangements” are also sapping resources.
The New Yorker also noted:
Memos created by a senior NRA employee describe a workplace distinguished by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed, whose leaders have encouraged disastrous business ventures and questionable partnerships, and have marginalized those who object. “Management has subordinated its judgment to the vendors,” the documents allege. “Trust in the top has eroded.”
Marc Owens, a former IRS official who worked as head of the division in charge of tax-exempt organizations, said after reviewing records obtained by Spies: “The litany of red flags is just extraordinary. The materials reflect one of the broadest arrays of likely transgressions that I’ve seen. There is a tremendous range of what appears to be the misuse of assets for the benefit of certain vendors and people in control. Those facts, if confirmed, could lead to the revocation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status,” which means it would likely fold were that to happen.
As for Ackerman, the company’s primary client is…the NRA. Many NRA staffers and officers move seamlessly between both entities. And now the NRA is suing the PR firm amid scandalous financial dealings and other shady circumstances.
“Even with my 40-year history in the NRA, I never imagined the abuses and neglect were so outrageous and rampant,” writes Jeff Knox, director of the Firearms Coalition, for Ammoland. “The most significant revelation is that NRA employees and attorneys brought many of these issues to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors, and the members of that committee did nothing to correct the problems.”
Gun Owners of America, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to have these problems. It’s an organization to consider if you’re offended by the NRA’s secrets and what the organization has apparently evolved into.
Tagged Under: Ackerman McQueen, billing, Colion Noir, Dana Loesch, financial problems, gun advocacy, gun control, gun rights, gun training, guns, lobbying, media company, National Rifle Association, nra, NRATV, Oliver North, public relations, Second Amendment, secrecy, shady deals, Wayne LaPierre