April 8, 2021
New Orleans You remember the National Rifle Association (NRA), right? How can we ever forget them? They have been less of a scourge on the country over the last several years as they have been shooting themselves in the foot with one scandal and controversy after another. One of the things different from the 2016 to 2020 election was their relatively blessed silence. Given the recent mass killings, they were in the news again of course, always ready to defend the indefensible and unwilling to brook any compromise on alleged Amendment 2 rights even when it comes to military-style assault rifles and ammunition. Somehow even as they have crippled themselves, they still hold sway over a significant number of elected folks in Congress that underlines the travesty behind the tragedy.
Wayne LaPierre, the 30 year veteran leader of the NRA showed his face again in a video trial before a bankruptcy judge in Dallas recently as he tried to keep his Hail Mary pass alive to stave off the multiple investigations by New York State’s attorney general of gross mismanagement, inappropriate expenditures, and horrid governance with his bankruptcy dodge. Remember that the NRA is a tax-exempt organization registered in New York State and under the jurisdiction of their nonprofit law and regulations along with any IRS restrictions on the expenditures of its funds to sustain their most favorable tax status. From all reports, he dug the hole even deeper, as he desperately tried to hang on to power and save himself, rather than his organization.
He admitted to the court that he had hatched this plan in relative secret. He hadn’t informed his own general counsel or key staff people. He claimed he had learned something from his wild and carefree misappropriation of organizational resources for his own and family’s personal pleasure and enjoyment. Amazingly, he admitted that he hadn’t even informed his own board of directors about this bankruptcy scam. He claimed he was afraid someone would find out and thwart the plan. Really? Perhaps, someone should mention to LaPierre the fact that the whole purpose of a board of directors is providing some accountability and stewardship for the entire organization rather than any particular individual’s self-interest. The NRA still has money, but creditors, including some of his partners in mischief are screaming for blood given the divisions in the board and the damage LaPierre has done to the NRA organization. The mess continues.
The NRA wants to reorganize in Texas, which they see as a friendlier venue. If there were any justice, given the NRA’s recent history under LaPierre, they would be forced to dissolve, rather than reorganize. Certainly, they are unlikely to get away from the New York AG, so that’s still a possibility. The judge can order that the NRA be put under a trustee because its management and board has proven inept and inadequate. That seems the least that should be done. The board seems unable to rid itself of LaPierre. The judge can do so, and if even a smidgen of what has been reported is accurate, there are more than adequate grounds. A trustee or a minder or someone with their feet on the ground and not trying to line their pockets and collect their press clippings is desperately needed for the NRA and for the rest of us. Whether New York prevails or not, the NRA needs a trustee now and a new board to boot.