In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

January 21, 2021

New Orleans      It’s January, not March, but watching the Trump exit from Washington still summons the old “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” He said he would be back again in some form, which might have seemed ominous to many, but only says to me that he’ll be booking a comp room at his hotel a spit away from the White House, and who will care. I was on a call with associates preparing for the coming waves of voter suppression, and one of our team was breathing easier by the minute he said, still worried that there might be one last gasp from former president Donald Trump. If there was one, it was only a wave and a whisper.

As Joe Biden was preaching unity, Trump was likely burning up the phone talking fire sale and yelling, “call Saul.” He has to raise a big nut this year, estimated between $300 and $400 million on debit and refinancing for his properties. The Trump Organization, heavy into hotel and golf properties that were slammed by the pandemic, was down an estimated 39% in revenues in 2020. Those numbers don’t sweeten the coffee for prospective bankers, and when it comes to bankers, most of the ones holding his paper, Deutsche Bank and Signature, have either said no way or no mas. My bet is that to make his properties in America great, he has to get on his knees to foreign banks where his four years left big markers, like Israel, Turkey, and, yes, Russia. The optics might not look great, but when he’s counting his friends on one hand, three of the fingers would have their area codes.

As for lawyers, he has a bit of a problem lining up representation for his coming impeachment trial. Rudy is ready, but reportedly Trump didn’t like the notion of him saying he was on point before working it out with the Donald.         Son-in-law supposedly was spending his last day in the White House trying to put together a team. The last bunch has headed for the hills it seems now that Trump’s star has faded and their law partners are skittish about the new wave in the White House and the blowback from the C-suite in the private sector. But, hey, we’re talking about lawyers now, so never fear, there are enough ambulance chasers and wannabe egomaniacs with law licenses between DC and NYC to join hand to hand in a giant conga line. Lawyers have a rap for repping mass murderers and the mob, so this one will be easy-peasy.

Trump has a bit of a brand problem for sure.         Much of his so-called base are more my buddies at Motel 6, than gold AE card folks asking for a suite for a grand or two. He might have to move them somewhere under something else, but I’m betting he looks to make the transition from high rollers to low ballers where he can make a sell for his snake oil. Normally, we would simply say, luckily, he has his health and his family, but I’m not so sure about his health, and his family may not be ready to stand in front of Florida trailer parks with a For Rent sign, so that may not be such happy trails either.


Let’s Prepare a Texas Welcome for the NRA

January 20, 2021

Texas Standard

            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.