Gunsite Academy owner and current NRA Director Owen “Buz” Mills has been one of the few members of the 76-seat Board of Directors to have vocally called for internal reforms over the past couple of years, and now he’s released an open (and scathing) letter to his fellow board members about the process of replacing Wayne LaPierre as executive vice president and CEO of the nation’s largest Second Amendment organization.
Here’s the text of the letter in its entirety:
So, now we are all looking towards New York and Justice Cohen’s courtroom. Our attention is diverted here while chicanery continues in
The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is at a watershed moment in its 153 rd year. Our leadership has admitted in courts and depositions to misappropriation of donor’s funds and unauthorized use of assets. They have admitted condoning the misuse of donor funds by others employed by the NRA. The leadership has for years abused their position and trust placed in them by our members and benefactors. The Board of Directors (BOD) is solely responsible for this victimization of the members.
Thanks to the New York Attorney General, we are halfway to fixing our organization, bringing the NRA up to par with other non-profit special
The judge will hold the victimizers responsible, and they will have to account for their deeds.
Meanwhile, in Fairfax the selected leadership is scheming to continue the abuse suffered over the last few decades instead of following the bylaws for the succession of the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer (EVP). The selected leadership wants a special election to install the enabler and facilitator of all the previous chicanery. None other than our duly selected President, he is the man more responsible than any other for permitting our selected leadership to rampantly run roughshod over our membership and benefactors.
As the chair of the Audit Committee for many years, Charles Cotton was responsible for holding our employees accountable and ensuring their
conduct beyond reproach. Our chair and “moral compass” approved every single act of malfeasance brought to the committee for decades, multiple acts approved retroactively, months and years after the fact.
When restitution was mandated, a bonus was awarded the miscreants including enough money to pay the restitution. This bonus also included
enough for the miscreant to have the cash to pay the taxes on his misappropriation. Talk about rewarding bad behavior!!
Again, I emphasize, it was not miscreant’s money, and it was not the facilitator’s money! It was the MONEY OF OUR MEMBERS and the
MONEY provided by the BENEVOLENCE OF OUR DONORS. There is something deeply wrong when you continually permit and encourage this
Also do not forget spearheading the deceit and lying to us about filing bankruptcy that the judge called “a fraud.” The BOD was never advised we
needed to file for bankruptcy, nor was it ever justified to the board. We read it in the papers.
As we violate the bylaws again – accepting, justifying, and participating in some kind of sham election to make the selected president our EVP.
Is the principal facilitator of the misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars (members and donors’ money) causing the hundreds of millions
of dollars of legal fees (again members and donors’ money) really have any business with access to the treasury?
Does he have any right to represent any moral, honest person or organization?
The normal, conventional way this type of business is conducted:
1. Select a search committee of business professionals from the BOD, selected from the floor by the BOD,
2. Retain professional employment agencies to recruit, screen and interview potential candidates,
3. Committee shall interview candidates,
4. BOD meet and greet,
5. BOD votes to select a candidate,
6. Committee sets forth terms and conditions of employment contract.
Now we have a professional to run the business of a world-class organization, in accordance with applicable laws, customs and traditions.
Oversight will be provided by a professional BOD congruent with the by- laws in effect prior to ceding all monetary responsibility to the EVP (circa2015).
Next we hire a celebrity “FACE” of the NRA as a spokesperson with no access to funds. Using a similar process as finding an EVP.
This is how a professional Board of Directors of a world class not-for-profit begins to heal itself.
We have an opportunity to carefully choose to correct the path we are on. We have the opportunity to recover all of the membership that has
abandoned us over these issues (2 million members +/-). We have the opportunity to recover the trust of our most benevolent donors. We have an opportunity to recover the respect of our industry and of the American people. There is no downside to doing this correctly.
Let’s not squander this opportunity, we must move forward smartly and with all the courage of the champions of freedom.
These seem to be reasonable suggestions by Mills, especially when it comes to the process of selecting a new EVP and CEO. As I wrote shortly after the news about Wayne LaPierre’s retirement broke, “if the next CEO and executive vice president offers current and potential members (including those who’ve left or quit donating in recent years) financial transparency and fiscal accountability alongside a rock-ribbed commitment to protecting the right to keep and bear arms, I believe the NRA would see its membership numbers quickly begin to grow again.”
That transparency needs to start now, and it shouldn’t be limited to the next EVP. The current board has the same obligation, and the process of selecting that individual should be as open and transparent as possible, because a special election for board members to install a handpicked candidate is about as opaque as it gets. Maybe Charles Cotton still emerges as the best candidate after that process has been completed, or maybe not, but allowing the search to take place in the sunlight instead of the shadows would, as Mills says, help restore the trust in the organization from both donors and members.
I’m less enthused with his suggestion of hiring a celebrity “face” of the NRA as a spokesperson. The organization does need an effective communicator, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be a famous face. The most important quality, for me anyway, would be a member who not only understands the fundamental importance of preserving our right to keep and bear arms, but has a deep appreciation for and understanding of all the work the NRA has done over the decades; not just in the political arena, but in training, promoting the shooting sports, and preserving history. The organization needs a spokesperson who is more interested in restoring the NRA’s brand than elevating their own. If the board can find someone with fame and influence who can do that, great, but I don’t believe that celebrity status should be a primary (or even secondary) qualification for the job.
Of course, the power of the organization to start a new chapter of its 153-year history rests with the Board of Directors, and ultimately it’s on them to decide what that next chapter looks like. As a Benefactor Life Member and someone who truly wants a bright future for the NRA, all I can say is that if those board members want to reverse the erosion of members and donors they really can’t stick with the status quo.