Breaking: NRA‘s longstanding CEO has resigned on the eve of a trial for corruption and graft.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s long-time leader, announced his resignation from the powerhouse organization yesterday afternoon in what those of us in the business call a “Friday-afternoon news dump.” The idea is to try and bury the news over the course of a weekend. In this case, what is actually being buried is our restraint. You see, we here at Guns & Gadgets Daily will not mock or disparage the NRA. It is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, and remains the Second Amendment’s best bet against those who would infringe on it. But Wayne LaPierre is not the NRA, and even if he had been, Wayne don’t work there no more.
Time for Real Talk
This is one of those complex issues in which many things are true. For example, it is true that New York Attorney General Letitia James’ suit against the NRA is politically motivated. James is a class-A gun grabber. What’s also true, it is clear, are many of James’ allegations. We know this because, three years ago, the NRA declared bankruptcy in an effort to get out from under the lawsuit. In the course of that bankruptcy hearing, LaPierre admitted to them. His long-standing Chief Financial Officer, Woody Phillips, pled the Fifth Amendment over 300 times.
Speaking of implicating oneself, LaPierre is claiming that his resignation is for health reasons. It may even be true that he’s in poor health, but anyone who believes that this wasn’t a desperate, last-minute, Hail-Mary effort to avoid the trial simply has not been paying attention.
It won’t help. The trial will continue. LaPierre is a named defendant in the suit, along with the aforementioned Woody Phillips and the NRA’s secretary, John Frazer. Interestingly, there had been a fourth named defendant, a human rumble strip named Josh Powell. Powell is now off the suit, having cut a deal with the New York AG. The news of that deal was released the evening before LaPierre resigned.
The Insiders: In Vino, Veritas
I’ve been a part of the Second Amendment/gunwriting sphere for a long time. That means I’ve rubbed shoulders with NRA employees and insiders. My observation of them is that they are deeply loyal to the NRA’s membership and to the Second Amendment, and that’s why they tolerate their leadership. They’re very closed-mouthed about what it’s like to work in the rank-and-file … but they’re human, and liquor loosens their tongues. What I’ve learned, over the course of many bar tabs and hunting-camp bonfires, is that NRA employees’ favorite pastime may be shooting, but their second-favorite sport is making fun of Wayne.
Here are some of the statements I’ve heard from various NRA employees over the last five years. (Don’t worry, guys. I’ll never use your names.)
On money: “Hey, remember that $6 million dollar mansion? That same year, we were getting e-mails saying we were using too many pencils and we needed to make sure we ground ’em down to the eraser before going to get a new one.”
On money: “The same year Wayne received over 300k in ‘excess benefits,’ we were all told that there wouldn’t be any raises–not even cost-of-living raises–because there was no money.”
On money: “Remember when we paid like $50K for hair and makeup for Susan LaPierre? That same event, I had an expense report be rejected because the $6 receipt for a doughnut and coffee wasn’t itemized. But hey, donate today! Dig deep in those pockets! Susan needs a new coat of paint.”
In response to a good insult: “Oh shut up or we’ll make you go hunting with Wayne.”
A bit of explanation is in order for that last one. You see, per the employees, Wayne is a menace with a firearm. He may have led the NRA for more than 30 years, but he was notorious as a bad, even dangerous, shooter. But you don’t have to take their word for it, or mine. If you need proof, here’s some of the most upsetting footage I’ve ever watched as an avid hunter and conservationist. In it, Wayne LaPierre empties a magazine into an elephant and still can’t kill it.
On Josh Powell, the former NRA Chief Operating Officer who was eventually fired (and then cut a deal with the NY AG): “Josh Powell is a @#$!” (NRA employees’ swearing could make a sailor blush.) “That $#&@er showed up to a formal dedication ceremony wearing flip-flops with suit pants and his $%&@ing shirt unbuttoned down to his greasy tits. Looking like @#$%ing dollar-store Miami Vice. And he’s a $#%@ing pig to the girls. We can’t even let our female employees go in his office alone. We had to set up a @#$%ing buddy system for the women who work with him.”
On the bankruptcy trial, and Woody Phillips’ pleading the Fifth: “How nice that we can showcase our dedication to the Fifth Amendment as well as the Second.”
On the bankruptcy announcement: “You know when we found out about that? Same time as you. It was on Fox about two hours before we got the official press release. We’re just a bunch of happy little mushrooms around here … keep us in the dark and feed us bull$#%@.”
Jury Selection for the trial is happening now.
We can’t know how the trial will go, or what the outcome will be. We do know that the judge took dissolution of the NRA off the table. What the NRA will look like when the trial is over, who will run it, and whether it will install new procedures to prevent anything like this happening again? We just have to wait.
Make no mistake: We still stand with the NRA, and you should, too. It remains our best bet against the forces that want to take our freedom away. All we can hope for is that this resignation will clear the tarnish from its good name, and that the Second Amendment true believers who have kept it going despite Wayne are able to help the NRA eagle fly proudly again.
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