Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Empire Circles The Wagons


An email from the officers of the NRA along with a number of former presidents was sent out to certain members this evening. It was also posted on Facebook by certain members of the Board of Directors. I saw it on Todd Rathner's page. While the Complementary Spouse received the email, I did not. Perhaps it was only sent to Annual Members and not to Endowment Life Members like me.

Here is the letter as copied from Todd Rathner's Facebook page. I would also read the comments as well.

A message from the NRA's current Officers and Past Presidents.

May 22, 2019

My Fellow NRA Member:

Since the NRA was founded almost 150 years ago, our adversaries have repeatedly tried to take us down. Today is no different. A recent burst of media claims the NRA is vulnerable, financially unstable, and weakened in its fight to defend the Second Amendment. Obviously intent on not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, most reports offer a distorted and inaccurate view of the NRA. As officers and past presidents of the NRA, we write today to set the record straight.

As you may know, we recently convened in Indianapolis for one of the largest NRA conventions in our history. More than 80,000 of our members showed up to gather as one NRA family – to support our Association and celebrate our nation’s constitutional freedoms. During our annual Members Meeting on April 27, some asked for greater insight into three issues: the NRA’s financial affairs, our direction and strategy, and the supervisory role being played by our board of directors. We had an open forum and spirited discussion.

Of course, our discussions were portrayed as a sort of family feud. (Infighting at the NRA – Chaos and Controversy!). At the NRA, we take pride in the fact that our Association is inclusive and invites the active participation of every member. Every member has an opportunity to voice any concern they may have at the Members Meeting. In fact, our greatest privilege is hearing from our members. Like many of you, that’s why we were at the Members Meeting in the first place and spent countless hours on the convention floor.

FACT: During a board of directors meeting on April 29, Wayne LaPierre was elected by acclamation to continue serving as our CEO and Executive Vice President. The board also unanimously elected Carolyn D. Meadows to serve as our new president.

Perhaps looking for a way to counter the narrative about a stronger, more unified NRA, questions have now conveniently surfaced about our financial situation and our standing in the regulatory arena. There also have been frequent attacks on Wayne’s personal character.

FACT: According to the NRA’s chief financial officer, we are on budget in 2019. The NRA is meeting all banking and supplier financial obligations and we continue to aggressively manage our cost structure to offset the orchestrated and calculated attacks against NRA’s finances in 2018. Put another way, our financial house is in order – we aren’t going away.

We have full confidence in the NRA’s accounting practices and commitment to good governance.

FACT: The Association’s financials are audited and its tax filings are verified by one of the most reputable firms in the world. Internally, the Association has a conflict of interest policy and, where appropriate, related-party transactions are reviewed and approved by the board’s Audit Committee.

Simply put, we are well-positioned on the regulatory front and poised to handle all challenges that confront us.

Personal attacks against the NRA’s leaders are nothing new. Recent ones have focused on wardrobe purchases and travel expenses incurred by Wayne. If members hear of an allegation, they can be assured that it has been or will be addressed by the appropriate committees within our board of directors.

FACT: We have committees in place to oversee issues relating to Accounting, Legal Affairs, and Ethics, among others – and every board member is invited to attend these meetings. Please remember that all of us are elected by you – our members. We are not elected by Wayne or anyone on the NRA executive team. We serve as your elected representatives.

FACT: Over the years, Wayne had been advised by the NRA’s advertising professionals to invest in his professional wardrobe due to his numerous public and media appearances. We understand that this was the same agency that facilitated the clothing purchases. What wasn’t as evident in this “disclosure” is that the clothing expenses referenced in media reports dated back to expenses from 15 years ago! To put it in perspective, over this time period, Wayne has participated in thousands of events and hundreds of TV appearances, and personally directed fundraising efforts that total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In any event, this practice was discontinued some time ago.

FACT: The vast majority of the travel in question involved donor outreach, fundraising, and stakeholder engagement. As an example, The Wall Street Journal reported that a trip to Italy was “tied to a 2015 documentary feature on the Italian gun maker posted on NRATV.” Beretta, as you may know, is a major supporter of the NRA and our Second Amendment.

We are not inclined to further discuss unfounded attacks on our organization, political infighting, or a “weakened” NRA.

However, we will say this: Our adversaries will not divide us and any further discussion about the so-called “demise of the NRA” is only meant to distract us from our mission. This is how it goes when you stand on the bedrock of constitutional freedom – and represent the last line of defense against a campaign to take down the Second Amendment.

While board members may argue, and perhaps even disagree as to tactics, the support Wayne and the current leadership enjoys reflects our assessment of his past and future value to the association as well as our realization that our opponents know they have to take him down if they want to weaken the NRA.

As one NRA member recently said, the true story of the NRA won’t be found in today’s press clippings. It will be written in the history books.

Wayne has been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all of us for most of his professional life. He has our support. A campaign to oust him failed – as the facts emerged, true motivations became apparent, and we agreed as to who should lead our fight for freedom. We are now moving forward.

FACT: We will confront our opponents, defend our values, and proudly continue our tradition as the greatest civil rights organization in the world.

Just like you, we care about the Second Amendment and our NRA. Just as you do, we know that our fights today are less for us and more for our children and our grandchildren. Just like you, we are all courageous foot soldiers in our fight for freedom. Every single one of us in this fight matters. The Second Amendment is where it is today because of all of OUR efforts. That’s why you matter to our cause and our Association.

We are the NRA. United we stand. And together, we’ll win.

Signed,

Carolyn D. Meadows President
Charles L. Cotton First Vice President
Lt. Col. Willes K. Lee USA (Ret) Second Vice President

Allan D. Cors Past President
James W. Porter Past President
David A. Keene Past President
Ronald L. Schmeits Past President
John C. Sigler Past President
Sandra S. Froman Past President
Kayne B. Robinson Past President
Marion P. Hammer Past President
Robert K. Corbin Past President
As with Meeting of Members, Lt. Col. Oliver North USMC (Ret) is absent from this list though he is a former president. Also missing from this list of past presidents was Pete Brownell. Thus, you have the last two past presidents not as signatories to this letter.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Bag Versus Bipod For Shooting


In another of his short videos on long range shooting made for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Ryan Cleckner discusses the advantages of shooting from a bag versus using a tripod. For Cleckner it comes down to two things - consistency and having his gear available.



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Resolution From The NRA Meeting Of Members


It took me a while to get a copy of the second resolution that was introduced at Meeting of Members at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. The first resolution was to thank President Trump for withdrawing from the UN's Arms Trade Treaty and the third resolution was an off-the-wall ode to Dana Loesch by some fan girl. You may have read about some of the fireworks that were associated with this resolution which condemned Wayne LaPierre as well as the Audit, Finance, and Executive Committees of the NRA Board of Directors. The resolution was ultimately referred to the Board of Directors for discussion.

Stephen Gutowski of The Free Beacon put up a short video that captures some of the dynamic of the meeting. On one side you had the old guard such as Marion Hammer, James Porter, and others who have served on the Board of Directors for many years. The other side might be called the insurgents. You had people like gun rights attorneys Adam Kraut and Joshua Prince along with a number from Pennsylvania. You had trainer Rob Pincus who now is the Executive Director of 2A.Org. Plus many others.




Below is the full resolution that was presented by Frank Tait who graciously sent me a copy.
Resolution submitted to the Annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association, 27 April, 2019

Submitted by:

WHEREAS, the National Rifle Association exists for the benefit of its members and has a long, illustrious history as the nation's premier provider of firearms safety, training, and competition, as well as our country's oldest and most effective civil rights organization; and

WHEREAS, the various missions of the NRA are dependent upon the hard work and generosity of our members and volunteers, who donate countless hours and tens of millions of dollars to our cause each year to help defend our rights and sustain our long tradition of shooting, hunting, and defense of self, family, community, state and country; and

WHEREAS, the NRA is chartered in the state of New York and subject to the laws of that state and the authority of the governor and attorney general of that state, who have declared their desire and intention to destroy our organization; and

WHEREAS, recent revelations of questionable business and financial practices within the NRA regarding their dealings with various vendors and contractors, who have received tens of millions of dollars from the NRA without clear accountability or oversight, leading to a lawsuit against one vendor, whom the NRA paid more than $40 million in 2017; and

WHEREAS, the NRA has filed a lawsuit against one of those vendors, admitting that they have paid large sums of the members' money, without detailed contracts, proper invoicing, or any way to effectively determine what was received in exchange for that money; and

WHEREAS, very similar issues were raised over 20 years ago involving this same vendor, but were squelched and ignored; and

WHEREAS, Wayne LaPierre was the Executive Vice President of the NRA 20 years ago when these issues were originally raised, and actively opposed and blocked any investigation or corrective action at that time, and during his long tenure as EVP of NRA, has often supported and defended this vendor, their practices, and other vendors and contractors who have similarly reaped huge rewards from the NRA without demonstrating any substantial return on our investment; and

WHEREAS, these highly suspect practices and failures to properly safeguard the assets of the association and its members, have created serious vulnerabilities that can, and almost certainly will be exploited by the very hostile attorney general of New York, and could result in the dismantling of the entire organization; and

WHEREAS, the ultimate responsibility for this situation, which has been ongoing for the past 20 years, rests with the Executive Vice President of the association, Wayne LaPierre, who receives over $1.4 million from the association each year, and has been reported to have a clause in his contract obligating the NRA to continue paying him the same amount as a speaker and consultant after he leaves the NRA; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that, on this 27th day of April, 2019, the members of the National Rifle Association of America here gathered at the Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis, Indiana do hereby express our disappointment, frustration, and lack of confidence in Wayne LaPierre's ability to guide the association out of the dangerous mess he has created, and call for his immediate resignation; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we, the members here gathered, also have no confidence in the members of the NRA Board of Directors who serve on the Audit Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Executive Committee, who were directly tasked with oversight of the operations of the organization and its finances and failed to identify and correct these long-running discrepancies that have cost our association tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, and put it in such a precarious position; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution, along with a brief description of its reception and passage by this body, should be prominently published in the Official Journal of the association within six months of adjournment of this meeting.

It Was A Big Day For Amicus Briefs


Monday and Tuesday were big days for amicus briefs in NY State Rifle & Pistol Association et al. v. City of New York. By my count, there were 25 briefs submitted pro and con but mostly in favor of NYSRPA. Obviously, when you have 25 briefs that is a lot of reading. I haven't even begun to start.

In Favor of New York City





In Favor of Neither Petititioner





In Favor of NY State Rifle and Pistol Association





The counsels of record for the petititioners (NYSRPA) read like a who's who of Second Amendment attorneys. You have Alan Gura, Stephen Halbrook, Dave Kopel, Don Kilmer, Stephen Stamboulieh, David Jensen, Dan Schmutter, Dave Hardy, and the list goes on. If you have been following Second Amendment law for the last 10-15 years you would have come across them one way or another.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

An Insight Into The Thinking Of William Brewer (Updated)


William Brewer III is the outside counsel for the NRA and is the lead counsel in their case against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State. He is also at the center of some of the controversy surrounding the NRA due to his bills.

I stumbled across this very recent article written by Brewer in Texas Lawyer. The article is entitled Advocacy as Art:  Lawyers Must Engage in Issues and Crisis Management. The article is behind a paywall but registration is free and you can read up to 3 articles per month.

His thesis in this article is that in large cases attorneys must manage both the courtroom litigation and the public relations outside the courtroom. I think you are seeing that very clearly in that he is the one who provides the response in many cases to the billing controversies, the Ack-Mac leaks, and the case against Ack-Mac itself.

From the article:
The fusion of legal and communications resources can produce more compelling, effective advocacy—enabling clients to favorably posture themselves, mitigate reputational damage and have a voice in the telling of the stories that define them.

What’s more, lawyers who manage issues and crisis management are able to help clients gain strategic advantages in their advocacy and recognize improvements in operational efficiencies, including cost-savings.

When communications professionals are deployed within law firms, the resources are more quickly and readily available. They are unencumbered by the drag of expensive “ramp up” periods often required by PR firms—which often renders the messaging “late” and diminishes its effectiveness.

There is also an inherent advantage in having law, media and politics all directed under the umbrella of the attorney-client relationship. The advocacy can be coordinated and responsive— working in alignment with a client’s legal objectives, elements of which might not be fully appreciated by a siloed PR firm.
If you read that last paragraph closely, you can see what he is trying to do for his firm with the NRA. He is seeking to be the legal counsel, the Ack-Mac PR firm, and the NRA-ILA wrapped up into one neat package. In other words, he wants to be the one-stop shop for all their needs and in turn get all the money.

Even if Brewer was the best attorney on Earth - and that is in considerable doubt - he still doesn't have the necessary infrastructure to also provide the public relations and lobbying clout that the NRA needs. You need only to look over the list of professionals at his firm to see that.

I think there is a lot of danger for the NRA in what he is attempting to do  in having "law, media, and politics all directed under the umbrella of the attorney-client relationship." While the bar canon posits that he should put his clients first, his ethical lapses in the past make one suspect that he will first do what is right for Bill Brewer. If that means sucking the coffers of the NRA dry, so be it.


UPDATE: David Codrea has a post on William Brewer along with links to Open Secrets questioning just if this is really a "pro-gun" attorney. According to Open Secrets which tracks campaign donations, Mr. Brewer gave $2,700 to the campaign of Beto aka Robert Francis O'Rourke and zip to Sen. Ted Cruz. He has also given money to such "pro-gun" luminaries as Al Franken, Hillary Clinton, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Dick Durbin.

I wouldn't care if Brewer was the real life reincarnation of Perry Mason he gave money to Beto F'ing O'Rourke. That alone should make you question his judgment.

Allen West Dissents (Updated)


Allen West is in his second term on the Board of Directors of the NRA. He is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and a former Congressman representing Florida. He also is refusing to hew to the party line that all is hunky dory in the NRA and won't be shut up. His statement released today on his The Old School Patriot website makes that abundantly clear.

I am liking Allen West more and more as the days go on. He is calling for term limits and a smaller board in addition to the departure of Wayne LaPierre. He wants the NRA to return to its roots of promoting marksmanship, encouraging the shooting sports, and protecting the Second Amendment.

His statement is below. I have taken the liberty of highlighting parts of his statement.
It has become very apparent that I need to speak out about what is happening at the National Rifle Association.

I am in my second term as a Board member, and I am deeply concerned about the actions and statements being made. The recent statements by Charles Cotton and Carolyn Meadows that are appearing in the Wall Street Journal, and now other news outlets, are outright lies. I have never been told, advised, informed or consulted about any of these details mentioned in the WSJ, and who knows how much more despicable spending of members’ money.

These statements have maliciously, recklessly and purposefully put me, and uninformed Board members, in legal jeopardy.

Prior to the NRAAM in Indianapolis I sent an email to Wayne LaPierre’s managing director, Millie Hallow, expressing my sentiment that Wayne LaPierre resign immediately.

I also drafted a memo entitled “Resolution of Concerns,” both of these statements are known to the NRA Board. It is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house. If we had done so in Indianapolis, much of this could have been rectified.

I do not support Wayne LaPierre continuing as the EVP/CEO of the NRA. The vote in Indianapolis was by acclamation, not roll call vote. There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors. It must cease, and I do not care if I draw their angst. My duty and responsibility is to the Members of the National Rifle Association, and my oath, since July 31, 1982, has been to the Constitution of the United States, not to any political party, person, or cabal.

The NRA Board of 76 is too large and needs to be reduced to 30 or less. We need term limits of four (4) terms on the Board. We need to focus the NRA, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization on its original charter, mission, training and education in marksmanship, shooting sports, and the defense of the Second Amendment.

I will dedicate all my efforts to the reformation of the National Rifle Association and its members, of whom I am proud to serve.

It sickens me to publicly make this statement, but I will not allow anyone to damage my honor, integrity, character, and reputation. Needless to say, there are those who have willingly done so to their own.

Steadfast and Loyal,
Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West (US Army, Retired)
Member, 112th US Congress
Patriot Life Benefactor, Board Member, National Rifle Association

Wayne must be fuming and his loyalist backers pissed off by Col. West's statement.

Good.

It appears to me that Col. West understands the meaning of "fiduciary duty" and the peril that the NRA faces for the lack thereof by many of those involved.

UPDATE: Stephen Gutowski just published the expected blowback to Col. West's statement from Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee.
In a joint statement to the Washington Free Beacon from NRA president Carolyn Meadows, first vice president Charles Cotton, and second vice president Lt. Col. Willes Lee (ret.), the three defended LaPierre and accused West of making false statements about the way the board has operated.

"It is unfortunate that certain board members have resorted to making false and misleading public statements about proceedings of the NRA board of directors," the joint statement said. "As those board members know, we are not at liberty to discuss the particulars of the board of directors meeting that occurred in executive session on April 29. However, every board member was afforded the opportunity to speak openly about any issues of concern to them. To suggest otherwise is dishonorable."
I find it interesting that the rest of their joint statement tried to make it look like Col. West was not fulfilling his fiduciary duty of care.
"Beyond that, every board member was invited to attend committee meetings where legal, financial, regulatory, and business issues are thoroughly addressed. The NRA has an office of the general counsel, and separate independent outside counsel to represent the board of directors. In sum, there is no excuse for any board member to claim they are unaware of legal and business concerns being addressed by this Association."...

"It shocks the conscience to read that certain board members have apparently not kept themselves updated, informed and active on matters that are of interest to our 5 million members," the three officials said. "They have an open invitation to get more actively involved—and to join the conversation in an appropriate way, as is provided for in our Bylaws."
That last paragraph is rich. I'm just going to leave it at that.

UPDATE II: Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned has the full statement from Meadows, Cotton, and Lee. You can read it here.

Government Profile Vs. Pencil Barrel


The other day, Herschel at The Captain's Journal had a blog post regarding the government profile barrel for the AR-15 and the M16A2. He made the point that the government profile barrel was adopted based upon erroneous assumptions and without proper engineering failure tests. He also said that top end AR makers continuing to put out rifles with government profile barrels was dumb.
First, I question their testing of the resistance to bending of a “government profile” barrel. They obviously never got real engineers involved in this problem. The highest bending moment in a cantilever beam will be where it is pinned, which in this case will be at the receiver. As best as I can tell, not only didn’t they solve a real problem, they didn’t even solve the pretend problem.

Second, engineering resources would have performed a failure mode and effects analysis of the problem. A failure investigation team of engineers should have been commissioned, not a military team.

Third, if you believe the problem is that Soldiers or Marines are using their rifles to pry open boxes or crates, then teach them not to do that. That’s stupid. I remain unimpressed with folks who try to mistreat, abuse and beat up their guns only to complain when they don’t work.
It was an interesting post with good comments. You should read the whole thing.

That led to me finding this video from last year by Ian and Karl from InRangeTV and their WWSD (What Would Stoner Do) series. In it, they test stress relieved pencil barrels from Faxon and then compare that to an original pencil-barreled Colt SP-1 doing the same test. Given I have one of those Faxon pencil barrels, I need to get my act together and finish my lightweight build using it!





PS: Lest you think I've gone all "what has Wayne done now" all the time, being able to have a day without significant charges of malfeasance and self-dealing is a relief. However, the day is still young.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Ack-Mac Letter Regarding LaPierre Expenses


Over and above Wayne LaPierre's spending on his wardrobe are expenses he billed to Ackerman-McQueen for travel, food, and apartment rental for an intern according to a letter they sent to him on April 22nd. These expenses have become the basis for stories in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and many other publications.

From the Wall Street Journal:
National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents.

The documents, posted anonymously on the internet, provide new details of the clothing, travel and other expenses totaling more than $542,000 that Ackerman McQueen Inc. alleges Mr. LaPierre billed to it.

The travel expenses allegedly include more than $200,000 in “Air Transportation” costs during a one-month period in late 2012 and early 2013, in part related to a two-week trip over Christmas to the Bahamas by Mr. LaPierre.

The additional details behind the ad agency’s claims comes as Mr. LaPierre faces internal scrutiny at the NRA over his expenses amid an extraordinary falling-out between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen.
Carolyn Meadows, the new NRA President, in a statement to the WSJ said:
The NRA released a statement from Carolyn Meadows, its new president, who said the “entire board is fully aware of these issues. We have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre.” She added that “it is troubling and pathetic that some people would resort to leaking information to advance their agendas.”
I sure hope Mrs. Meadows is using the royal we to refer to herself when she says "we have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre" because I would hope that some board members - and I know there are some who don't have full confidence in Wayne.

These photos of the letters seem to have been taken of a letter that was printed in landscape mode which explains why pages 3 and 5 only contain one line of data.

There has been much speculation about then-intern Megan Allen and why her apartment expenses were covered in part or full for three months.  I'm not going to get into these but I suggest you check out her LinkedIn page for her current position with the NRA and her work and educational background. Given the controversy, I'd do that sooner than later.  As to the apartment complex, The Ridgewood II by Windsor apartments are located in Fairfax.