Former NRA President and current NRA lobbyist, Marion Hammer, wrote an opinion piece which appeared in the Washington Times on September 10, 2019. In that article, Mrs. Hammer took issue with those who have objections to the current leadership of NRA (specifically, Wayne LaPierre). You can read the article here.
Mrs. Hammer does not bother to address the specific allegations against Wayne LaPierre in her article. Instead, she declares her support for Mr. LaPierre and proclaims that those who oppose him are “a bunch of novices who haven’t done 1 percent of what Wayne has.” The rest of her article is pretty much dedicated to “fear funding” with quotes like:
- ” Where would we gun-rights defenders be without the NRA and Wayne LaPierre? “
- ” The only pro-gun group that really has the wherewithal to protect our Second Amendment rights is the NRA. So, I would advise everyone to think long and hard before siding with anyone else.”
- ” We need the NRA. Our country needs the NRA. And Wayne LaPierre is the only person who can lead us through this hate-storm.”
The shear arrogance, condescension, and threatening tone of Mrs. Hammer’s article are enough to enrage even the most ardent second amendment supporter. One has to wonder if Mrs. Hammer hasn’t set a goal of offending every gun owner who has ever joined or contributed to the NRA. If that is indeed her goal, her article at the Washington Times is a mighty good start.
So, let me clear the air on a few things. First, while NRA and Wayne LaPierre have done some absolutely wonderful work to safeguard the second amendment rights of Americans, they have also done American gun owners considerable harm along the way. Do I honestly need to list the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, the fact that NRA originally opposed Constitutional Carry, the completely dysfunctional NICS system, and everybody’s favorite… the bump-stock? Do I need to point out that these things occurred under the leadership of Wayne LaPierre? Now, to be fair, NRA has had “good reasons” for each of these decisions. NRA’s leadership has just never been very good at explaining those reasons to America’s gun owners. So, they don’t bother. We’re suppose to trust good old Wayne. After all “where would we gun-rights defenders be without the NRA and Wayne LaPierre? “ Consequently, I have no idea if those reasons were good or not and neither do you, I’ll wager. What I do know is that those decisions resulted in a loss of American gun owners’ rights.
Wayne LaPierre’s lack of leadership and oversight is most notable in the extremely costly ($40 million per year) relationship with Ackerman McQueen. Ackerman McQueen has reportedly enjoyed a high priced relationship with NRA since the 1980s. LaPierre became Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association in 1991. NRA didn’t demand a full accounting of Ackerman McQueen’s NRA related expenses and file a court action when the marketing firm refused to provide the accounting until earlier this year. Which begs the question, why did it take almost 30 years for Wayne LaPierre to discover that Ackerman McQueen was not giving NRA a full accounting of its expenses? Are we really supposed to believe that it took Mr. LaPierre the better part of three decades to discover that something was amiss?
Second, since Mrs. Hammer did not see fit to mention any of the allegations leveled against Wayne LaPierre, I’ll give you the short list here, under the heading of misappropriation of funds:
- Attempted to redirect $6.5 million of NRA donor funds through Ackerman McQueen in order to purchase a home.
- Used at least $13 thousand of NRA funds to rent an apartment for a summer intern.
- Over $270 thousand of NRA funds spent on clothing, including suits in excess of $20,000 each.
- Tens of thousands of dollars of NRA funds spent on flights and hotel accommodations for Wayne’s wife, Susan LaPierre’s hair stylists and makeup artists.
- Almost $250,000 of NRA funds spent on luxury travel including to the Bahamas, Italy, and other exotic locations. This includes a private jet, car and driver at each location.
Mind you, this is a short list and does not include the conflicts of interest and influence peddling that are alleged to have occurred among members of the NRA board of directors.
In addition to the accusations of misappropriation, Mr. LaPierre’s salary is also an issue. By all reports, the NRA’s annual revenue is reported as being less than $500 million dollars. That is roughly equivalent to a medium sized company. For example, I would be stunned if Donald Trump doesn’t generate more revenue than NRA at just one of his resorts. I find Mr. LaPierre’s reported salary of $1.4 million to be a bit high when compared to the salaries of CEOs managing similarly-sized profit making companies, particularly when we consider that he is the CEO of a non-profit civil rights organization. Regardless, anyone with a salary such as that of Mr. LaPierre is perfectly capable of spending his own money on whatever expensive clothing he desires. Similarly, Mrs. LaPierre can certainly afford to pay for her own makeup team’s travel expenses without misappropriating NRA funds. In the same way, if Mr. LaPierre wants a big multi-million dollar home, then he certainly has enough income to swing the loan all by himself and without misappropriating NRA funds through Ackerman McQueen. My wife and I owned a real estate brokerage in San Diego for some years. I’m sure that our lending partners at the time could have found Mr. LaPierre a very desirable loan without much problem.
Third, it is a simple and inescapable fact that Wayne LaPierre is not a king, prince, founder of a successful company, or magic genie. Nor is Wayne LaPierre the only person on the planet who has ever successfully run a non-profit, a lobbying organization, or a company. He is nothing more than a man who works for a non-profit organization which survives at the pleasure of the members who pay their dues in order to join it and the donors who contribute their money to it. It is the donors’ and members’ money that he has reportedly been wasting. As a donor and life member, let me be VERY clear. Wayne LaPierre does not need $20,000 suits, private jets, private limos, a traveling makeup team for his wife, or a summer intern stashed away in a condo at NRA donor and member expense in order to do his job. So much for Marion Hammer’s warning that “Wayne LaPierre is the only person who can lead us.” The fact is, right now Mr. LaPierre is leading the NRA to it’s destruction by clinging to his job and driving members and donors away in the process.
NRA is not a profit making enterprise. It is also not a giant piggy bank for wannabe elitists to tap into so they can live the life of royalty. NRA is a non-profit, member supported organization that is supposed to be fighting to protect the second amendment rights of its members and Americans as a whole. Consequently, donors and members have a keen interest in where their hard earned money goes and how it is managed. If a manager (in this case, Wayne LaPierre) is accused of misappropriating those funds, it is the right of the donors and members to demand an accounting of the funds and a justification for the expenditures in question. If that manager refuses to provide such an accounting or is found to have violated his or her fiduciary duty to the donors and members in any way, then it is within the rights of the donors and members to call for and insist upon that manager’s removal. If that manager refuses to step down, then it is entirely appropriate for the donors and members to stop donating, cancel their memberships and shift their support to other organizations of their choosing. After all, it’s their money he’s been accused of playing games with. Such is the situation we find ourselves in today with Wayne LaPierre,
Wayne LaPierre has been accused of misappropriating NRA donor funds and of violating his fiduciary duty to the members of the organization. He has thus far refused to provide an accounting of those funds to the donors and members. He has opted, instead, to cry foul, scream “conspiracy”, and attack anyone who disagrees, even if that person is a long time financial supporter of NRA. Therefore, many members and donors have publicly called for his removal, as is their right. I am among those who have publicly called for Mr. LaPierre’s removal. Thus far, he has refused to step down. Consequently, I have stopped donating to the organization and shifted my support to other organizations. I have also encouraged others to do likewise.
Mrs. Hammer and I do agree on one thing. We need a strong and effective NRA. I also don’t doubt that Wayne LaPierre has done many great things for gun owners while at NRA. Nevertheless, when a leader of an organization goes off the rails or becomes so toxic that his very presence causes damage to that organization, it is time for that leader to go. Wayne LaPierre’s continued presence at the NRA and his refusal to address the accusations against him and to provide a financial accounting to the members is causing considerable harm to the organization. The NRA is besieged by law suits. Members of the board of directors are publicly jumping ship. Long time membership recruiters have stopped recruiting. Average members who have given financially to the organization for decades are now refusing to do so. Big money donors, such as David Dell’aquila have not only stopped donating, but in the case of Mr. Dell’aguila, have filed a court action in hopes of forcing a change. The list of NRA’s troubles goes on and on and the damage to the organization appears to grow with each passing day.
So, here’s the bottom line for me. While I will not abandon NRA as a member, I have no intention of providing additional funds to NRA, nor do I intend to encourage my viewers / listeners to do so. I will be happy to change that stance if and when some actual evidence of Mr. LaPierre’s innocence is presented or, in absence of such evidence, Mr. LaPierre resigns from, or is removed from any and all leadership positions at NRA. The time in which “trust me” held any sway has long since passed. Without clear evidence acquitting Mr. LaPierre and his followers of wrongdoing, the personal assurance of Marion Hammer carries zero weight. After all, Marion Hammer is reported to have received $270,000 from NRA last year “for consulting services and legislative lobbying in Florida.” That’s a boat load of donor money. If Marion Hammer’s endorsement is all NRA has with which to defend It’s CEO, then I cannot support funding the organization any longer. I will continue to shift my focus and funding to alternative organizations such as Gun Owners of American and encourage my viewers and listeners to do likewise. If that makes me one of the “novices who haven’t done 1 percent of what Wayne has” in the eyes of Marion Hammer, then I have to ask one question. Who cares?