Imagine the irony that is the fact that The New York Times has had some of the best coverage of the National Rifle Association’s ongoing soap opera. The latest chapter involves big dollar donors rebelling against the NRA’s Executive Director Wayne LaPierre and his cronies at HQ in Fairfax.
Reports say that a handful of donors with pledged future donations of $134 million have paused those giving agreements. In short, they are demanding that the now “radioactive” LaPierre resign along with his corrupt cronies who make up the current NRA leadership.
Yes, Wayne LaPierre has come a long way from the 1970s when he was hired on for about $17,600 to serve as the NRA’s lobbyist in Congress. More recently, LaPierre has bought suits for $20,000 a pop. Lots of them. He reportedly spent $39,000 on clothes at a Beverly Hills store in a single day. And worse, he had the NRA pick up the tab by laundering the bills through an expense account with Ackerman-McQueen, the NRA’s now-former advertising and public relations firm.
Again, the NY Times has the story:
Even as the National Rifle Association has been consumed by relentless and increasingly public infighting, Wayne LaPierre has maintained a firm grip on its leadership.
Now one of the gun group’s major benefactors says he is preparing to lead an insurgency among wealthy contributors to oust Mr. LaPierre as chief executive, along with his senior leadership team. Such a rebellion would represent a troublesome new threat to Mr. LaPierre, as his organization’s finances and vaunted political machine are being strained amid a host of legal battles, most notably the New York attorney general’s investigation into its tax-exempt status.
David Dell’Aquila, the restive donor, said the N.R.A.’s internal warfare “has become a daily soap opera and it’s decaying and destroying the N.R.A. from within, and it needs to stop.” He added, “Even if these allegations regarding Mr. LaPierre and his leadership are false, he has become radioactive and must step down.”
Until that happens, Mr. Dell’Aquila, a retired technology consultant who has given roughly $100,000 to the N.R.A. in cash and gifts, said he would suspend donations — including his pledge of the bulk of an estate worth several million dollars.
He said he was among a network of wealthy N.R.A. donors who would cumulatively withhold more than $134 million in pledges, much of it earmarked years in advance through estate planning, and would soon give the gun group’s board a list of demands for reform.
Meanwhile, the NRA has Baghdad Bobbette ready and willing to counter the claims of a restive donor base.
Carolyn Meadows, the N.R.A.’s president, said in a statement that “we are disappointed whenever donors choose to suspend their support of the N.R.A., but we hope to win them back.” She added: “People may resist change, but they embrace progress. We’re experiencing that right now at the N.R.A. There’s an energy within the N.R.A. that is hard to describe — and we continue to earn the support of millions of loyal members.”
The energy that’s “hard to describe” has been described to me by people in a position to know as one of distrust, disgust, dismay and disunity.
As far as Mr. Dell’Aquila, he shared some of his thoughts on improving the NRA with The Times.
His demands include the resignation of Mr. LaPierre and his senior leadership in time to put in a new team for the 2020 elections. In addition to Mr. Cox’s return, he wants Allen West, an N.R.A. board member and former Tea Party congressman opposed to Mr. LaPierre, installed as the group’s president. (Some of Mr. Dell’Aquila’s demands echo those of Mr. West and others.)
He would also shrink the board to 30 members from 76; stop paying consulting fees to board members; dismiss the N.R.A.’s accounting firm, RSM; remove past presidents from the board; and cut costs by holding meetings in central locations. He lamented that an upcoming board meeting was to be held in Alaska: “What are the optics of that?” he said. “It’s negative. It’s self-inflicted.” He adding that the N.R.A. could find board members who “would do this for free, and it keeps us clean in the liberal papers.”
Put another way, Mr. Dell’Aquina seeks to drain the NRA swamp. However that would entail the swamp dwellers leaving their cushy gigs, fat salaries and accumulated power behind. As if that’s going to happen without a much bigger fight.