Today was another banner day for the National Rifle Association and its 5 million members. First, the Association announced that it’s moving its September board meeting from Anchorage, Alaska to Northern Virginia.
The NRA had been widely criticized for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold a board meeting in Alaska at a time when it’s spending millions of dollars a month on litigation with the state of New York, and others as well as defending itself in investigations by the New York Attorney General and the District of Columbia Attorney General. Not to mention a class action lawsuit brought by dissident donor David Dell’Aquila
In a letter to board members, NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer wrote,
This decision was made after careful consideration. As you know, our duty to protect our Second Amendment comes above all else and the NRA is the only organization that can carry out that mission. As details of the congressional schedule were revealed today, it became apparent that a fight of historic proportions is going to begin during the time when we would have been in Alaska.
It is imperative not only that officers and staff be fully engaged, but also that the full board lend its support and assistance. Being in Alaska would have made it impossible for our officers and senior staff to fulfill their duties here in the nation’s capital at this critical period in the Second Amendment’s history.
A variety of gun control bills, both old and new, have been introduced in Congress. Following the El Paso and Dayton shootings, Democrats have acted with more urgency to push them through to votes in both the House and Senate. These include an assault weapons ban, magazine capacity limits and a federal red flag bill.
According to a Newsweek report, moving the September meeting from Anchorage to Virginia will cost approximately $100,000.
Then, late this afternoon, ProPublica in cooperation with Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun internet outlet, The Trace, published a report detailing two sexual harassment allegations against NRA Chief Operating Officer Josh Powell at least one of which as been settled with NRA funds.
One allegation was reportedly made by an NRA employee and was settled in 2017.
ProPublica could not confirm the settlement amount, which is not noted in the nonprofit’s public filings. In a statement, John Frazer, the NRA’s general counsel and secretary, told ProPublica that Powell denied the allegations.
“The NRA opted to confidentially resolve the matter in the best interest of all involved,” Frazer said.
A second allegation against Powell was made a year later.
In a separate harassment dispute in 2018, Powell’s behavior toward a woman who works for Ackerman McQueen, then the NRA’s advertising firm, escalated tensions in their decadeslong business relationship and caused Ackerman to bar him from any further contact with its employees.
Ackerman told ProPublica in a written statement that the firm “formally declared to Mr. LaPierre that it would not have any more dealings with Mr. Powell.” Ackerman said there was “clear reason to believe supported by evidence that he sexually harassed one of our employees and we would not tolerate his further involvement with any of our employees in order to protect their right to a safe work environment.”
Ackerman said the NRA “refused to cooperate” in addressing the complaint against Powell. Instead, Ackerman said Powell received “the full support of Mr. LaPierre and the board of directors.”
The NRA paints a different picture of the Ackerman allegation.
The NRA responded to Ackerman’s statement on behalf of itself and Powell. A spokesperson for the organization called the firm’s claim part of a larger “extortion demand,” in which Ackerman said the NRA “must withdraw” its lawsuit “or face a smear campaign that would include sexual harassment allegations against one of its executives. Ackerman is now delivering on its threat. We are not surprised.”
Read the full story here.
It’s fair to note that neither Ackerman, ProPublica or certainly The Trace are fans of the National Rifle Association. That being said, none of the reporting that’s been done about the turmoil within the NRA going back to the April New Yorker article and everything in between has been contradicted by anything the NRA has said or done.
We should also note that these reports are consistent with whispers, rumors and off-the-record conversations that TTAG has had with those in positions to know about internal NRA goings on for months. We didn’t, however, have sufficient evidence to report it.
Note that ProPublica quotes John Frazer confirming that a settlement amount was, in fact, paid to the un-named NRA employee. Money comprised of membership dues and contributions.
The question then is, why was one of the Association’s top officers allowed to continue in his position (and allegedly continue the same behavior directed at an Ackerman employee)?
The NRA apparently did something following the Ackerman allegation.
…NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the organization “acted appropriately and swiftly” in response to the harassment allegation involving Ackerman. “The NRA removed Mr. Powell from his position as liaison between the NRA and Ackerman, and Mr. Powell had no further involvement with Ackerman.”
The spokesman called Ackerman’s harassment allegations “cryptic,” adding that they “first surfaced in October 2018, shortly after Mr. Powell participated in an effort to significantly reduce Ackerman’s budget with the NRA. Immediately, remarks allegedly made more than a year before became fodder for a harassment claim — accompanied by a demand that Mr. Powell be excluded from any further budget negotiations with the agency. The NRA committed in good faith to investigate the allegation, but the accuser and Ackerman declined to participate in any interview about the alleged incident.” …
Powell has served as LaPierre’s chief of staff since 2016. In December 2018, after the Ackerman dispute occurred, LaPierre announced to staff that Powell would step away from his additional duties as executive director of general operations and join the NRA’s legal team as a “senior strategist” in a high-stakes lawsuit that had been filed that spring against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York Department of Financial Services.
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The disinformation, self-contradiction, obfuscation and hyperbole coming from the official NRA communications is bad enough… when you add in the Public Statements made by Board Members in blogs and on social media, it should be obvious why so many American Gun Owners (including NRA Members) are calling for transparency and reform at the association. A change in leadership is just the start towards a better NRA. Follow @savethe2a_org and sign up for the email list at savethe2A.org for the latest real news and for ways YOU can help #changethenra. We need a stronger and more effective organization with integrity representing our interests. Posted @withrepost • @savethe2a_org Which is it Ms. President? “Everything is fine.” Or “We need your money!” #savethesecond #changethenra