By Save the 2A
We posted an article to the Friends of Save the Second Facebook page discussion group about concerns with the new Institute for Legislative Action’s general counsel. The choice went mostly unnoticed, but there was some back-channel challenge from people who couldn’t verify that Wade Callender has been hired as the new deputy executive director and general counsel for the NRA’s lobbying arm.
The NRA has been typically opaque with members and American gun owners about this hire, although it was announced internally.
We were tipped off to the lawyer’s problematic background and thought it was worth starting a conversation about. The Institute for Legislative Action’s new top lawyer has no political experience and has argued against some of the NRA’s positions in the past.
The article released by CNN confirms the hire publicly and spells out three primary concerns about Wade Callender:
1. Callender has no apparent experience in politics or policy issues, nor does he have any ties to the firearms industry.
2. Callender comes to the already-troubled NRA while he is embroiled in a public legal dispute of his own with his former employer that involves allegations of financial malfeasance and corporate irresponsibility.
3. Callender comes from an industry that the Wayne LaPierre and others in the community have frequently attacked over the past decade, specifically, a company that produced “violent video games.”
The former Gearbox employee previously worked as a trial attorney in Maryland and served as a judge advocate with the Navy, according to his LinkedIn page. His registration with the Texas Bar lists his specialties as intellectual property and entertainment law.
Callender’s hire, which was announced internally earlier this week, has already sparked concern within the organization.
A source said staffers are perplexed about why the NRA would hire someone with no apparent political experience from an industry LaPierre has demonized, particularly at a time when the issue of gun control is back in the news following a spate of mass shootings.
The article goes on to cover the baggage that Callender brings with him:
He departed Gearbox on sour terms. Ever since, he and Gearbox CEO Randall Pitchford II (who also happened to be Callender’s decades-long best friend) have been trading jaw-dropping accusations in lawsuits.
The lawsuit against Callender accuses him of using Gearbox as his personal piggy bank and lending agency.
“While Callender regularly used the Gearbox credit card for anticipated business expenses such as airfare and meals related to business travel, he also abused the privilege of credit card access by charging unapproved, wholly personal expenses, including family vacations, gun club memberships and firearms accessories, and trying to get six-pack abs,” Gearbox attorneys alleged in their lawsuit.
Before you start thinking that this is some kind of isolated “hit piece” from CNN, an article from a few months ago in D Magazine spells out the specific allegations of Callender’s wrongdoing in more detail. It sounds a lot like the same things many of the current NRA leadership and directors are being accused of: taking advantage of their positions for personal gain.
…Gearbox also claim that Callender persuaded them that he could add value with an executive MBA from Pepperdine, eschewing local MBA programs. They say that Gearbox paid the entire cost associated with the MBA, including tuition and “hotel and first class airfare to Southern California multiple times per month”—to the tune of over $125,000.
On top of that, Gearbox maintains that in 2017 and 2018, when Callender “found himself involved in contentious litigation regarding personal matters in Maryland,” it paid for the GC’s legal fees and expenses totaling more than $50,000. Gearbox also alleges that Callender abused the corporate American Express account by “charging unapproved, wholly personal expenses” that included family vacations to Disneyland, memberships to gun clubs like the Frisco Gun Club, and “trying to get six-pack abs” through charges to “sixpackshortcuts.com.”
The most expensive such abuse, says Gearbox, came on Callender’s last day of employment when he obtained an increase on the American Express line of credit for the purpose of making a $17,000 payment to his Maryland attorneys, incurred the charge, and then “emptied his office and resigned as general counsel” without repaying the expense as promised.
If you’ve never heard of D Magazine, it’s a Dallas lifestyle and local news publication. Guess what other controversial lawyer associated with the NRA and dealing with his own issues is from Dallas? William Brewer, III…infamous lead counsel for Wayne LaPierre and frequent donor to Liberal Politicians who have taken strong pro-gun control positions.
We have to ask if there is a connection to the new ILA General Counsel?
Who’s Making These Horrible Decisions?
We are left to wonder, once again, who is making these decisions at the NRA HQ? Is it really Wayne LaPierre acting independently? Is is the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors? Is it William Brewer becoming the new tail wagging the dog after the break-up with Ackerman-McQueen?
We know it isn’t the Board of Directors as a whole. We know it isn’t the voting members of the NRA. And, we certainly know it isn’t the average American gun owner.
This article originally appeared at savethe2A.org and is reprinted here with permission.