The New 2018-2019 (Top-Secret) NRA Board of Directors
By K. Thomas Ross | June 5, 2018 | Comments Off on The New 2018-2019 (Top-Secret) NRA Board of Directors
By Kenneth Ross
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The National Rifle Association does not publish (since 2013) a listing of its Board of Directors. They have 76 directors, 25 elected each year by a mailed ballot, for three-year terms. Additionally, one member is elected for one year, at the annual convention, sort of a rescue for the executives, saving one person voted out by the members.
At the annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, in May, 2018, twenty of the directors first or last reelected in 2015 were reelected for another term. This is typical of the Board – long-term members.
Famous long-term directors include actor Tom Selleck, singer Ted Nugent, former NASCAR driver Richard Childress, and former basketball player Karl Malone. Also, former or current congressmen Bob Barr, Dan Boren, Larry Craig, Curtis Jenkins, Allen West and Don Young. And, of course, Iran-Contra convicted felon Oliver North, who was elected as president of the Board for the next year.
Nor, as is often exclaimed in social media, is the Board mostly representative of the arms industry. There are some – Ronnie G. Barrett, Pete Brownell, and Robert A. Nosler, representing their own companies(1), and Duane Liptak of Magpul Industries. The influence of the gun manufacturers can be better measured in moneys contributed to the NRA. The Board is mostly politicians, shooting range owners, writers of gun magazines, attorneys, lobbyists and police officers of one sort or another (including Corrections and Fish and Game).
The May vote could be seen as a won for new blood. Three of the top five votes were for new directors – Carrie Lightfoot, the “Well-Armed Woman”, Duane Liptak, mentioned above, and Julie Golob, world shooting champion. The other new directors are Kristy Titus, from the Outdoor Channel, Il Ling New, professional shooting guide, and Dean Cain, an actor best known for Lois and Clark.
The vote also could be seen as against long-term members. The voters rejected Grover Norquist, Robert Wos and John Cushman. Former president and conservative commentator David Keane barely made it, coming in 25th. Former president Ronald Schmeits came in 26th, replacing recently deceased actor E. Lee Ermey. Long-term member Herb Lanford, rejected in the vote, become this year’s one-year 76th member.(2)
But, one way or another, 20 directors were reelected, and 2 decided not to run. All the directors who were not reelected, and those who won with the smallest number of votes, also were in the bottom rungs in 2015, except Keane.
The Illusion of Choice
Much of the real power remains in the hands of the executive officers, and especially EVP Wayne LaPierre. Also very powerful is the PR firm of Ackerman McQueen, which has driven much of the media narrative, and the NRA’s expansion into NRA TV. It reportedly created the public persona of LaPierre.
The Board is incestuous. The voting is hardly democratic. The NRA Board’s Nominating Committee picks almost all of the candidates, including, usually, all of the Board’s 25 directors who are running for reelection. This year it nominated 33 people, and two were put on the ballot by petition from members. (These petition candidates rarely win.)
If one votes for (at most) 25 of 35, one is not really choosing the winners, but rather the 10 losing candidates. The only real competition is at the margins at the 25th vote getter, and the difference between the 25th vote getter and the 28th may be less than 1000 votes.
Those eligible to vote are not all NRA members, but rather life members and those who have been members for over five years. If the membership numbers publicized by the NRA are correct, much less than 10% of those eligible actually vote – 111k in 2017.
Women and Minorities
Despite its reputation as a white men’s club, the NRA Board has several women who are long term members, but there has clearly been a concerted effort to increase the number of women on the Board in the last few years. The number is now 17, or 22% of the Board. One could speculate that, in the mind of the NRA MAGA’s, a woman with a gun is ‘hot’, and nowhere near as threatening as young black men with guns.
The Board also has four black male directors. It also has two men, and one women, who are at least partially Asian.(3)
The Craziest of the Crazies
You would expect an organization which promotes guns and opposes gun restrictions to have its share of crazies, and the NRA Board does not disappoint. The new president, Oliver North, was convicted of illegally selling arms to Iran to finance the illegal overthrow of the socialist government of Nicaragua. Allen West left the military rather than be court marshaled for torture.
Ted Nugent threatened the life of the last president, and likes under-aged girls (aside from being racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and xenophobic, traits common in the NRA/MAGA community). Larry Craig left Congress after being arrested for his wide bathroom stance. Brown, Ross and Young have supported anti-government militia groups. (4)
William A. Bachenberg – founder, former CEO, Data Based Systems International, Bethlehem, PA. Owner, Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays. email@example.com
Carol Bambery General Counsel, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies CarolB@mcrgo.org, law professor, Michigan State, founder, Michigan Coalition Responsible Gun Owner Foundations. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Barr. former congressman, GA @bobbarr email@example.com
2) Mercedes Schlapp, working for the White House, and Steve Hornady of Hornady Ammunition chose not to run for election. If you are counting, there was an extra vacancy. In 2017, director Joseph P DeBergalis Jr. become the Deputy Executive Director for Operations.
3) I have excluded Hispanics because its definition as a race is fluid. Latinos can be pure Native, European, African or Asian, or any combination of these.