January 20, 2021
New Orleans I realize that talking about guns and their giant conservative enabler, the National Rifle Association, will have many of you thinking that we’re talking about the siege at the US Capitol and all the wannabe gunsels threatening politicians and organizing militias. Maybe we should, but instead we’re getting ready to welcome the NRA, that helps make so much of this craziness possible, to their new home in Texas.
You may have missed the news in all of the recent excitement that the NRA is declaring bankruptcy and terminating its domicile registration in New York State in order to reincorporate as a nonprofit in Texas. Seems the Attorney General in New York was way too much in their grill about how they had mixed and mingled their tax-exempt funds with their political funds on one hand and been up to their nose in self-dealing, expense padding, and general featherbedding of their top executives, especially CEO Wayne LaPierre. Contributions were down, their board was tired of answering questions from newspaper investigators, and their tax exemption was in jeopardy, so the NRA decided it was time to run. The NRA had already loaned and paid for a big chunk of a Dallas-area mansion for LaPierre, so he will be able to drive to work rather than flying to the NRA Virginia headquarters, making them think this move would be no problem.
So, welcome to Texas, but they may have some surprises, if they think that by running. they will be able to hide, especially when it comes to how they spend their money. Having registered and run nonprofits in Texas over the years, I have some familiarity with the legal pros and cons of registrations there. Let’s just say, it’s not California or New York for that matter, but it’s not a walk in the park for an operation like the NRA trying pull the covers up over all of is money-monkey-business. I reached out for our esteemed legal expert, Doug Young, based in Austin, to make sure I wasn’t suffering from some sort of pandemic-induced confusion about the requirements of Texas nonprofit law. He shared that,
Section 22.353 of the Business Organizations Code requires that the books and annual reports of financial activity (each transaction of income and expenditure) must be made available to the public for inspection at the non-profit corporation’s principal office. However, § 22.353 doesn’t apply if the corporation solicits funds only from the members of the corporation, or the corporation doesn’t intend to solicit and receive and does not actually receive contributions in any fiscal year in an amount exceeding $10k from any source other than members. Section 22.351 requires disclosure of such part of the annual reports to any member that is relevant to the members “proper” request for same. (Whatever proper is).
The NRA receives truckloads of money from a variety of sources other than its dues-paying membership, so there is no loophole that they can crawl through to prevent their members or the public from thoroughly inspecting their finances. If they ever make the mistake of qualifying for Community Development Block Grant, then their board meetings would be open to the public as well.
The biggest problem is going to be finding folks willing to sit in the NRA offices in Texas to go through their books, but here’s a call for volunteers to get ready now. The NRA didn’t realize that the signs saying “Don’t Mess with Texas” apply to them as well.