NRA Director Joel Friedman: ‘Setting the Record Straight’

Lee’s note: Joel Freidman is a member of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors. His letter arrived unsolicited and is published with permission.

Setting the Record Straight

While I have wanted to speak out concerning the situation at the NRA, I have not due to the amount of litigation that has been ongoing, as well as my belief in the fiduciary responsibilities of a board member and trustee. However, I feel strongly about our mission to protect the Second Amendment, and while I may be maligned by some for sharing my thoughts, I can no longer remain silent.

I am not a Johnny-come-lately. I have been involved in the firearm rights movement for over 30 years, primarily at the grassroots level in California. I have gotten hard, calloused hands from my work, and I’m proud of it. I have been on the NRA Board of Directors since 2004 and served on various committees.

I would like to begin by discussing how we, the NRA, got to where we are today. After the election of Donald Trump – an election in which the NRA played a key role in securing his victory – the other side determined that they must find a way to neutralize, if not completely destroy, our Association in an attempt to win back Congress, the White House, and to destroy firearms’ freedoms as we know them today.

Funding for this anti-NRA campaign comes from people whose net worth is more than 11 figures. Their interest income alone from a month or two is so much greater than the entire budget of the NRA. For you and me, it is hard to conceive of such wealth.

Through the talents of those they hired, these people are working to destroy the reputation of the NRA – and attack our not-for-profit status. As we know, ongoing investigations by the attorneys general in New York and Washington D.C. have caused the NRA to use more resources for legal help than anyone could have ever imagined. But it is a battle we must fight based on our commitment to good governance. Losing our not-for-profit status would put the NRA out of business. I fear it would also lead to a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Beyond this critical fight, we also are waging a battle that could impact advocacy organizations across our nation. Our First Amendment lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) is so significant that the ACLU has filed an amicus brief in support of the Association.

The NRA contends that Governor Cuomo and DFS are trying to coerce banks and insurance companies to withhold services from the NRA as retaliation for our political advocacy. If New York is successful in violating the NRA’s First Amendment rights, then every advocacy group in this country is at risk. We cannot allow politicians to determine who should and should not be in business because of their political or religious views.

In the face of orchestrated campaigns and legal disputes, the NRA has made tough decisions – demanding, among other things, increased transparency from its vendors. Most complied, but not all.

After 38 years of working hand-in-hand with the NRA, it is MY BELIEF that one of our vendors attempted to take over NRA leadership in order to preserve its own lucrative contracts. It is also MY BELIEF that this vendor had, for some time, believed that the NRA’s entire success was due to its efforts alone.

For more information on this, I encourage you to read the NRA’s lawsuit filed against Col. North. You will see what was done, and what was attempted, by this vendor.

As we know, the takeover attempt failed. Subsequently, as threatened, certain documents were leaked online with an aim to make NRA top management and board members look bad.

When tens of millions of dollars are on the line, some people will do extraordinary things.

I know there have been comments from certain individuals about how much money the NRA is “wasting” using its current legal firm. I bring to you a quote from Mr. Harlon Carter, creator of ILA and someone who brought the NRA into the political fight that would be necessary to preserve the Second Amendment.

He said, “I’ll spend every dime the NRA has to protect the Second Amendment.” Ladies and gentlemen, the NRA is in a fight for its life right now.

For those who have had negative things to say about the law firm representing us, I ask one simple question: Name one thing the firm has done that has hurt the NRA? Thus far, no one has been able to answer that question. The reality is, the firm has continuously moved the ball forward and pulled off improbable and extraordinary victories, while handling multiple cases on multiple playing fields.

With regard to the allegations made against Wayne LaPierre – brought forward in conjunction with the failed takeover attempt – I would like to remind everyone that he has given his life to the NRA and to the protection of the Second Amendment. Over the years, he excelled in every position he held and was finally elected as Executive Vice President (EVP) in 1991. During his tenure as EVP, the NRA grew from an anemic less-than-two-million-member association into a more than five-million-member powerhouse.

From his days as an NRA lobbyist to now, Wayne has played a pivotal role in our greatest accomplishments. For instance, when we kept the Gun Control Act of 1968 from taking your guns. When we lost on the “assault weapon ban,” but were smart enough to push for a 10-year sunset clause that expired. When we passed the ’86 Firearm Owners Protection Act. We stopped excessive waiting periods and one-a-month purchase schemes. The NRA led the fight to increase carry states from three to more than 40. Consider the NRA’s growth, under Wayne, from a standpoint of influence, finance and power.

Some claim his time has passed. I disagree. Wayne is still guiding the NRA faithfully, strategically and correctly through the most difficult time in its 150-year history. And after over four decades, Wayne knows more people, has more insight, and garners more respect than anyone I know. His absence alone would create problems not only for the NRA, but for the defense of the Second Amendment.

I want to directly address all the “lavish” spending that Wayne has been accused of.

Over the last 15 years, he has done hundreds of media interviews, campaign commercials, and attended thousands of events in promotion of the NRA and the Second Amendment. His wardrobe expenditures were directed by Ackerman McQueen. The agency invoiced the NRA for the clothing as a business expense.

During that same period, Wayne was responsible for helping to raise $300-400 million annually, or $25-33 million a month. But for discussion purposes only, let’s say that Wayne, through his direct involvement in speeches and media appearances, helped raise roughly $8 million a month (that’s 25%). That translates in 15 years to $1.5 billion. In that circumstance, the money spent on clothes is miniscule – not to mention the number of people this money helped elect who have stood by us and helped us save the Second Amendment.

Now, go and check other large associations in the hundred(s) million-dollar world and see what their CEO is getting in total renumerations. The truth is, Mr. Wayne LaPierre is one of the most underpaid people in the giant trade and interest group world by percentage.

Now let’s talk about the trips. These trips were to secure and interact with both donors and high-profile individuals and to arrange for the donation of firearms. Do you think the NRA’s high-profile supporters magically appear to support our cause?  Do you think that this happens overnight?  That is what Wayne and only Wayne is able to do based on his reputation.

So the idea that his time has passed and it’s time for him to leave is probably the single largest mistake anyone can make. Everyone should not only be thankful, but should pray for his continued good health and dedication. This man has received more death threats than almost anyone else on the planet. For Pete’s sake – Google it – it’s public knowledge – Wayne LaPierre was “swatted!”  He and his family have been targeted in more ways than anyone can imagine.

Let us discuss what some of the anti-NRA, anti-Wayne people are saying, “I don’t know what’s going on but …”

Now to be fair, that’s because they don’t know, and they can’t know the details because of the lawsuits as well as the New York investigation. Therefore, isn’t it ludicrous for anyone to make decisions and proclamations after admitting they’re ignorant of the facts.

I ask you to consider this for a moment – do you think that there’s anyone better equipped to guide the NRA during these challenging times?  The neophytes who are agitating would get their clocks cleaned in about 2 hours!  Even our former chief lobbyist – as talented as he may be – wouldn’t be able to navigate this.  Let’s face it – the reason the opposition wants Wayne gone is because they know without him, it’s easier to take down the NRA.  And, now, we have some so-called pro-gun types naively joining the chorus!

The last part of my message has to do with the concept that the NRA is wasting its money and there is no oversight.  Not only do we have a Treasurer’s department, we have a finance committee overseeing the organization, and we have an audit committee.  We are all under such a microscope that I personally have been refused payments for expenses I have incurred because I only had credit card statements and not the actual receipts. This idea that the board and top management are ripping off the organization is just another attempt to separate us and to neuter our ability to do the job we need to do in 2020, which is to protect the rights of firearm owners in America. No one else can do it, and if we all don’t stick together and stop letting the haters and the media drive us apart, the anti-gunners will win.

You don’t believe me? In an article from The Hill, “Democrats Look to Capitalize on Turmoil Inside the NRA,” dated July 23, 2019, Democratic members of congress claim that we are plagued by “internal problems” and state, “Now’s the time to capitalize on that.”

Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign, states, “Given the series of self-inflicted wounds that they have, which are draining significantly diminished resources at a significant rate, yes, it’s obviously a time for us really to focus on pushing candidates and pushing this issue.”

I believe many are fueling the exact false and inaccurate narrative driven by our adversaries – dividing us in a manner that weakens the Association and strengthens our enemies. We must not posture our adversaries for success. Doing so supports them in their aim is to take away our constitutional freedoms.

In closing, please allow me to say that we truly appreciate that the majority of our members are committed to the NRA – and its fight to protect the Second Amendment.  We appreciate that they, like us, trust that we’ll prevail over these orchestrated attacks.

The stakes are higher than they have ever been.  It is time to come together – united and committed in support of the NRA and the constitutional freedoms in which we all believe.

Joel Friedman

NRA Board Member

 

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

15 Comments

  1. Another Board member has outed themselves…why don’t you turn in your resignation letter too? I love the way you rationalized the poor behavior those under YOUR purview acted, yet you diminish the impact that behavior has had on the organization and continues to have on the organization. The NRA needs to clean house…you should go along with those others who have written “open” letters. Tom King is another blowhard that comes to mind.

    Not another dime…

  2. Patron Level member #4875884, I also have been in the trenches working with the NRA to save the 2nd amendment, untold hours traveling from one end of my state to the other, I have spent and donated thousands of my own very hard earned dollars. I have never received nor should I have, one penny for my efforts because I believe the 2nd amendment deserves to be defended and saved at all costs.

    I also believe that no matter what Mr. LaPierre has accomplished in the past if he is truly interested in doing what is right today to defend the 2nd amendment against the assault it is under he should step aside and allow need leadership in the NRA because and it is plain to see for anyone looking that he has become a deterrent and hindrance in our noble battle of saving the 2nd amendment.

    Thank you Joel Friedman for your service at the NRA but it is time for a change sir.

    • Perfectly put! The 2nd Amendment being upheld for ALL time must be defended, for us & future generations! The time to make ourselves known is NOW. The ability to protect everything we hold dearly is paramount to saving A TRUE AMERICA!

  3. “I also believe that no matter what Mr. LaPierre has accomplished in the past if he is truly interested in doing what is right today to defend the 2nd amendment against the assault it is under he should step aside and allow need leadership in the NRA because and it is plain to see for anyone looking that he has become a deterrent and hindrance in our noble battle of saving the 2nd amendment.”

    Please change need to new.

    Thank you.

  4. Robert O'Brien on

    For anyone who really wants more detail information on the finances of the NRA they should look at the free, readily available Form 990 tax report filed. The latest one available is 2017. After going through it and bearing in mind the work the NRA does I didn’t find expenses unreasonable. Having run a couple of small non-profits myself it is not a piece of cake. Before making knee jerk decisions based on talking points or one or two peoples’s comments please educate yourself using available facts. i don’t see any other organization fighting for the 2nd amendment with the resources and success record of the NRA. If the left is successful at even somewhat disarming us we are in big trouble in this country. We do have enormous strength in numbers. If the left wasn’t afraid of the NRA they wouldn’t work so hard to destroy it. i have been a member for only a few years but my support will continue.

    Thank you.

  5. R Vincent Warde on

    Four reasons why Wayne LaPierre should resign.

    Talk about disconnected from the average NRA member………..Mr. LaPierre is paid well over 1 million per year, few if any non-profit execs arid more than this. He also has a golden parachute that will pay him his full salary for many years after he retires. I question the ability of the NRA to justify this salary as a non-profit. By law, such organizations cannot be run to enrich employees – and a strong argument can be made that this is exactly what is happening at the NRA. The fact that other other nonprofits may be doing the same thing does not make it right or legal. It is even more disgusting that he is drawing this salary while the NRA employees are facing pay cuts and their retirement fund is millions in the red. I once worked for a company that experienced a significant reversal. People were laid off and we all took a pay cut. Our company president took no salary until we once again could be paid a full salary and those laid off were rehired. That’s leadership – and it’s a shame nothing like this is happening at the NRA.

    The list of people sidelined or fired by Mr. LaPierre is breathtaking. Are we to believe that all of them are convert agents of Michael Bloomberg? It was Wayne LaPierre who recruited Col. Oliver North. Furthermore, he gave up a lucrative Fox News job to become NRA president. Additionally, we know that North and many of the other people calling for LaPierre to step down are also calling for an outside audit. So, in addition to believing that all of these longstanding 2A supporters are trying to destroy the NRA, we are also supposed to ignore the fact that they are calling for an outside audit and LaPierre is not.

    As far as the Ackerman-MacQueen mess is concerned, who was in charge of the NRA for decades while this alleged abuse took place? Wayne LaPierre. If the NRA’s lawsuit filings are 100% accurate, It makes a powerful argument for Mr. LaPierre’s resignation. All of this happened over a long period of time and on his watch. This alone should be enough to result in his resignation for the good of the organization.

    Then there is the Carry Guard disaster. It began with the NRA stabbing instructors in the back. Even though these instructors had signed up hundreds of thousands of members, the NRA went into direct competition with them. The NRA then when on to sell an inferior insurance product without registering as insurance agents. This has resulted in the NRA getting into legal trouble in several states. Then there is the training, which I have heard nothing good about. Again, this happened on LaPierre’s watch.

    So please, Mr. LaPierre, resign for the good of the NRA.

  6. Edward Dunnigan on

    This glowing endorsement of Mr. La Pierre still does not explain why it was necessary to rent a $4500 a month apartment for a young woman in his employ.

  7. Pingback: Friedman: No One Is Better Equipped to Lead the NRA Now Than Wayne LaPierre - Concealed Patriot

  8. The NRA had been funding out on gun owners since FDR drafted them to support the NFA. I got tired of the fund raising money letters only to learn the NRA was helping gun controllers write laws. Here in Ohio NRA lawyers helped the city of Columbus to write assault weapon laws. If these are our friends who are our enemies?

    In the last few years the NRA supported bump stock legislation then opposed it. They let the recent proposal to ban silencers pass unremarked. Frankly I feel my self styled supporters should put some action to their rhetoric.

  9. Pingback: Friedman: No One Is Better Equipped to Lead the NRA Now Than Wayne LaPierre - Concealed Carry News

  10. Richard Borts on

    I’m thinking LaPierre needs to be gone,you don’t take organization money, get caught and then try to justify it because of “all that he’s done”

  11. Pingback: Joel Friedman Comes out in Favor of Wayne | Shall Not Be Questioned

  12. Patrick Henry on

    My biggest issue is the removal of members from Committees for retaliation. That is uncalled for.

    Also, I’m sure the NRA was fearful with Chris Cox, but he was also forced out.

    I was on Wayne’s side, when this first hit. However, with those two retaliatory moves, I no longer am.

  13. Joel Friedman:

    You’ve only been working on this for thirty years? Welcome to the club, pal.

    However, you’re clearly part of the problem at NRA. Not the solution.

    As such, you should tender your resignation.

  14. I would like to read in detail what Chris Cox has been accused of.
    So far all i’ve read has been: He joined North in trying to oust Wayne.
    Show me how and what he did. Then I’ll be satisfied.

    Wayne, like me of the same age are showing our age, wear and tear.
    I’m concerned about his health as upset as he’s been seen to be much
    of the time. Since he’s the “man”, who is going to take his place if and when
    he has a fatal H/A, or does in fact retire or is booted out??

    LM: 8124176

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