Former NRA Officials Admit In Court What They Denied For Years; NRA Board Member Calls for New Leadership

by Tommy Grant

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For most folks, the threat of felony criminal perjury charges tends to encourage honesty, even from those who dismiss or ignore their fiduciary responsibility to act honorably and truthfully to an organization’s members. Hence, why as the New York corruption trial continues, all manner of improprieties previous repeatedly denied in the past to the NRA’s members by many of Wayne LaPierre’s cronies have been revealed so freely to the court.

All told, the corruption scandals within the National Rifle Association have cost that organization many tens of millions of dollars in donations. It has also cost about two million members in the last several years, according to NRA Board Member Buz Mills. Mills wrote in an open letter to his fellow NRA board members that it needs new leadership immediately, not the coronation of current President Charles Cotton as LaPierre’s replacement.

Bloomberg’s “Everytown” has day-by-day reports on the trial. Frankly, their reporting seems mostly right down the middle, better than the mainstream media.

Sunshine typically makes the best disinfectant, and there’s a metric ton of dirty laundry coming out in the trial. Just scanning through those, the day former NRA-ILA head Chris Cox testified had some interesting revelations.

    • Cox said that he battled with longtime NRA vendor Ackerman McQueen. He believed the messaging Ackerman was presenting for the NRA was “tone deaf.” Cox indicated that LaPierre was a fierce advocate for Ackerman and that to go against Ackerman was perceived as going against LaPierre. Cox characterized Ackerman as “untouchable.” 

We had all heard that. We included that here to lay the groundwork for the rest:

    • He testified about concerns he had about the NRA hiring “incompetent people,” citing chief of staff Josh Powell as one example and saying Powell had a background of failures. Cox also testified about losing confidence in certain people at the NRA-ILA. He said that when he informed LaPierre of those feelings, LaPierre would often then hire the individual in question at the NRA “mothership.” Cox specifically named Andrew Arulanandam – the interim successor to LaPierre – as one such individual. 

Powell, of course, rolled on the other defendants in an agreement with the New York Attorney General’s office. He will testify against the other defendants in exchange for limiting his financial liability to $100,000. Given the numbers getting tossed around at this trial, he might have saved himself millions in restitution and penalties.

It also seems as though Chris Cox, a very sharp man who worked hard to rise into leadership, didn’t think highly of Powell. Or of Andrew Arulanandam, the man appointed (selected?) as the interim successor to LaPierre.

    • Cox became alarmed at the amount of borrowing at the NRA.
    • Cox testified that he did not believe that routing of NRA executive expenses through Ackerman McQueen was necessary for security, noting that if it had been, then presumably he, as the second-most public face of the organization, would have had the same setup. 

The “security” argument might sound good to those who don’t know any better. For the rest of us “security” sounds a lot more like “keep it off the books.”

    • With respect to NRA attorney Bill Brewer, Cox said that he was concerned about Brewer because he came from outside the Second Amendment legal community and had given money to candidates that supported gun safety reforms. He called Brewer’s bills to the NRA “crippling.” Cox supported the efforts from former NRA board president Oliver North for an audit of the invoices from the Brewer firm.

But Bill Brewer was LaPierre’s buddy. Or perhaps he knew where the rhetorical bodies were buried.

    • In his testimony, Cox spoke of when he discovered that LaPierre had billed the NRA approximately $250,000 for Zegna suits, saying “It was one of the final straws for me” and “I was floored, I was extremely disgusted.” He testified that he wrote a letter of resignation after finding out about the suits, and gave it to Oliver North. Cox testified that people close to LaPierre viewed him as a threat because if he replaced LaPierre, their lucrative relationships at the NRA might end.

“Because if Cox replaced LaPierre their lucrative relationships at the NRA might end.” And there you have it.

Here’s Buzz Mills Open Letter to his peers at the NRA’s Board of Directors, as sourced through NRA In Danger

TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE 

NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA 

So, now we are all looking towards New York and Justice Cohen’s courtroom. Our attention is diverted here while chicanery continues in Fairfax.

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is at a watershed moment in its 153rd year. Our leadership has admitted in courts and depositions to misappropriation of donor’s funds and unauthorized use of assets. They have admitted condoning the misuse of donor funds by others employed by the NRA. The leadership has for years abused their position and trust placed in them by our members and benefactors. The Board of Directors (BOD) is solely responsible for this victimization of the members.

Thanks to the New York Attorney General, we are halfway to fixing our organization, bringing the NRA up to par with other non-profit special interest groups.

The judge will hold the victimizers responsible, and they will have to account for their deeds.

Meanwhile, in Fairfax the selected leadership is scheming to continue the abuse suffered over the last few decades instead of following the bylaws for the succession of the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer (EVP). The selected leadership wants a special election to install the enabler and facilitator of all the previous chicanery. None other than our duly selected President, he is the man more responsible than any other for permitting our selected leadership to rampantly run roughshod over our membership and benefactors.

As the chair of the Audit Committee for many years, Charles Cotton was responsible for holding our employees accountable and ensuring their conduct beyond reproach. Our chair and “moral compass” approved every single act of malfeasance brought to the committee for decades, multiple acts approved retroactively, months and years after the fact. 

When restitution was mandated, a bonus was awarded the miscreants including enough money to pay the restitution. This bonus also included enough for the miscreant to have the cash to pay the taxes on his misappropriation. Talk about rewarding bad behavior!! 

Again, I emphasize, it was not miscreant’s money, and it was not the facilitator’s money! It was the MONEY OF OUR MEMBERS and the MONEY provided by the BENEVOLENCE OF OUR DONORS. There is something deeply wrong when you continually permit and encourage this serial abuse. 

Also do not forget spearheading the deceit and lying to us about filing bankruptcy that the judge called “a fraud.” The BOD was never advised we needed to file for bankruptcy, nor was it ever justified to the board. We read it in the papers.

As we violate the bylaws again – accepting, justifying and participating in some kind of sham election to make the selected president our EVP.

Is the principal facilitator of the misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars (members and donors’ money) causing the hundreds of millions of dollars of legal fees (again members and donors’ money) really have any business with access to the treasury?

Does he have any right to represent any moral, honest person or organization?

NO!

The normal, conventional way this type of business is conducted:

    1. Select a search committee of business professionals from the BOD, selected from the floor by the BOD,
    2. Retain professional employment agencies to recruit, screen and interview potential candidates,
    3. Committee shall interview candidates,
    4. BOD meet and greet,
    5. BOD votes to select a candidate,
    6. Committee sets forth terms and conditions of employment contract.

Now we have a professional to run the business of a world-class organization, in accordance with applicable laws, customs and traditions. Oversight will be provided by a professional BOD congruent with the by-laws in effect prior to ceding all monetary responsibility to the EVP. (circa 2015)

Next we hire a celebrity “FACE” of the NRA as a spokesperson with no access to funds. Using a similar process as finding an EVP.

This is how a professional Board of Directors of a world class not-for-profit begins to heal itself.

We have an opportunity to carefully choose to correct the path we are on. We have the opportunity to recover all of the membership that has abandoned us over these issues (2 million members +/-). We have the opportunity to recover the trust of our most benevolent donors. We have an opportunity to recover the respect of our industry and of the American people. There is no downside to doing this correctly.

Let’s not squander this opportunity, we must move forward smartly and with all the courage of the champions of freedom.

Owen Buz Mills
Director
National Rifle Association of America

Time will tell how this trial and the struggle over who will lead America’s oldest civil rights organization plays out. One thing’s certain, NRA members who follow this trial have discovered that most of the allegations levelled by whistleblowers in years past, adamantly denied by LaPierre loyalists, were not only true, but just the tip of the iceberg.

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