Mixed Bag: NRA Board Reformers Win Some, Lose Some in Leadership Elections

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Dan Z. for SNW

The reformers on the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors went for broke in yesterday’s Board of Directors meeting. They also went hours longer than anyone ever imagined possible. The result: the reform movement lost one key slot, but won three others. 

One observer told me to think of it like baseball, not football. In a 162-game season, averages count. “In baseball,” I was reminded, “reform would be batting .750. That’s Hall of Fame numbers by any measure.”

Apparently, every item on the lengthy agenda was far closer than in the past. Hopefully, that means the days of the “unanimous vote” — a hallmark of the LaPierre era — is, like WLP himself, a fading memory.

The failed reform move would have made longtime reform-minded board member Owen “Buz” Mills the President of the NRA. Instead, a 37-30 vote went against Mills and in favor of the old guard’s choice, Bob Barr.

That vote demonstrated, once again, that despite assurances that they were all ready to “do the right thing,” NRA board members who have historically chosen not to oppose the old guard, did so again. What’s especially cringeworthy is that Mills, a historically straight-shooter, was attacked personally. 

The other new officers selected were the following:

First Vice President – Bill Bachenberger
Second Vice President – Mark Vaughn
Executive Vice President and CEO – Doug Hamlin (the current head of NRA Publications)

With the exception of Barr, the winners were decidedly not the choices of the formerly automatically rubber stamped nominating committee. Their choices for the other slots, including Ronnie Barrett for Executive Vice President, were all defeated. So there may be a small glimmer of light at the end of what is still a very long, very dark tunnel. 

What lies ahead for the NRA is something between (continued) irrelevancy and bankruptcy. This bankruptcy, however, won’t be a Brewer-designed shenanigan designed to avoid New York courtrooms. This NRA bankruptcy could actually mean insolvency, if not liquidation. 

Ultimately, one simple question remains: does the NRA even have a future?

With the last act of NRA’s acting EVP Andrew Andrulanadam having apparently been issuing written instructions for the NRA to scrape up the few funds remaining in their depleted bank accounts to send to the Brewer Firm, there’s serious concern the NRA will even be able to make their reduced payroll in a few days.

Which brings up the future of a group of people who have largely been ignored throughout the continued power struggle inside the organization: the loyal employees. They have toiled on, despite pay cuts, benefit reductions, and ever-shrinking resources. Even with reform measures, their futures are uncertain at best.

Many are acquaintances. A few are friends. Because of those friendships, I’ve never asked them for their opinions on what was happening inside the NRA. Even for reporters, friendships have boundaries.

Those boundaries apparently moved yesterday. 

A note was sent  anonymously to the NRA Board of Directors (and a few others), purportedly by “current and former” NRA employees. 

While I didn’t try to confirm the author, I did get necessary confirmation that it was, indeed, legitimate. Their note sums up the NRA situation better than any outside observation. 

Dear NRA Board of Directors,

We are writing as current and former NRA staff members. We choose to remain anonymous due to the almost certain retaliation from NRA executives and the Brewer firm. Since 2018, our association has been in complete peril, and no one has asked the NRA’s staff for their input. We are the ones who work day in and day out to accomplish the NRA’s mission of promoting the safe and responsible use of firearms and defending the Second Amendment. Meanwhile, it has become clear that NRA’s executives and officers are focused on ensuring a steady revenue stream for the Brewer firm. We pose this question: When will we stop the bleeding, and when is enough, enough?

Over the past six years, the NRA has become unrecognizable. The NRA of 2018 is far different from the NRA of 2024, and this convention hall is proof. This deterioriation is due to the NRA’s poor leadership. President Cotton, Andrew Arulanandam, Randy Kozuch, Tyler Schropp, Doug Hamlin and Sonya Rowling have not, and arguably never have, acted in the best interest of NRA members. The NRA’s recent misfortunes are often blamed on the New York Attorney General. While we are no fans of Letitia James, 90% of the NRA’s issues are self-inflicted. Yes, AG James has had a gun pointed at the NRA from the start of her campaign, but NRA’s leadership continues to hand her magazines with ammunition.

We will briefly discuss each leader, avoiding rehashing old issues.

President Cotton has overseen many of the NRA’s poor decisions over the years on the Audit Committee, the SLC, and as President. It’s time to change his title from president to king because he is acting as a monarch. King Charles has been positioning himself to become executive vice president and chief executive officer. Anyone familiar with his record at the NRA knows he is not the right fit for EVP. The new NRA EVP needs to be unapologetically pro-gun, innovative, politically connected, and experienced in turning around failing organizations. King Charles is not that person. His primary focus is on maintaining his relationship with the Brewer firm. Recent reports confirmed by the Brewer firm show that King Charles and Bill Brewer even fly on private jets together. The firm claims this saves the NRA money, but this is unlikely. While the firm may not directly bill the NRA for the jet, there is nothing to stop them from increasing their billable hours. This is reminiscent of the MMP yacht situation. King Charles and Bill Brewer are the only ones pushing for the move to Texas because they are both based there. No other staff member, including NRA’s Interim CEO Andrew Arulanandam, plans on moving to Texas. King Charles’s goal is to secure a high salary for a few years as his retirement fund.

Andrew Arulanandam cannot make a good decision to save his life. Since taking his position on February 1, the NRA has continued to decline. Arulanandam exists in his position solely to follow King Charles’s orders and maintain the relationship with the Brewer firm. In fact, Arulanandam reportedly forced Sonya Rowling to pay Brewer millions of dollars today before tomorrow’s board meeting. If King Charles becomes EVP, Arulanandam will be rewarded and return to his high-paying job as executive director of General Operations, with an updated salary and maximized pension at retirement.

Randy Kozuch has been consistently overlooked throughout his career at the NRA. Kozuch is not a leader, and most of the ILA staff don’t respect him. Kozuch is a yes-man. Shortly after becoming executive director of ILA, Wayne asked him for millions from the ILA budget to keep the NRA afloat. Kozuch complied, and his newly hired ILA Finance Director quit after the first week due to discomfort. This wasn’t the first time the NRA asked ILA for millions, and Kozuch complies every time. King Charles, Bill Brewer, and Arulanandam don’t respect Kozuch; he is just the perfect puppet to help pay off Brewer’s excessive bills.

The other executives are equally ineffective. Tyler Schropp, the highest-paid executive at the NRA, can barely raise money without Wayne. Doug Hamlin operates entirely in the red and doesn’t know how to run an organization. Sonya Rowling is only in her position because she is a “whistleblower,” which looked good for the Brewer firm to show a course correction. However, she is inexperienced and would run the organization into the ground without realizing it.

Finally, the Brewer firm is the most ineffective and corrupt part of the NRA. Bill Brewer excels at one thing: losing. He flaunts the money he has taken, pulling up to the hotel this weekend in an Aston Martin while losing consistently. And he is Angus McQueen’s son-in-law. The NRA has funded the McQueen/Brewer family feud for too long, at the expense of our members who faithfully support us.

Board members, when is enough, enough? You are the only ones who can stop this. Charles Cotton is not fit for EVP. Andrew Arulanandam is not fit for EVP. No one at the NRA is currently fit for EVP. The Texas move is a waste of money and unnecessary. The Brewer firm is ripping the NRA off for every dollar we have. The NRA is failing. Revenue is failing, membership numbers are falling, ILA’s power is a fraction of what it used to be, and other training organizations are outpacing us. It is so bad that NRA is liquidating investments to continue paying Brewer. We beg you, as you go into the meeting tomorrow, to stop the bleeding and hold Charles Cotton, Andrew Arulanandam, and the other officers accountable.

Save the National Rifle Association of America.

The staff likely won’t be happy with the news that one of their “poor leaders,” Doug Hamlin, is now the Executive Vice President and CEO. And wins by the old guard would appear to validate the concerns regarding “certain retaliation from NRA executives and the Brewer firm.” 

That’s not really conjecture on my part. The NRA has already been found to have retaliated against employees and former board members in the past. The only conjecture there would be any action by the Brewer firm. If there’s no more money, there’s likely no more Brewer, either.

Hamlin didn’t waste any time after he was elected EVP in re-appointing Randy Kozuch as the Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and appointing Joe DeBergalis, Jr. as the Executive Director of General Operations.

De Bergalis, a former NRA Board Member, was formerly the Executive Director of General Operations before being inexplicably fired by Wayne LaPierre, who placed Andrew Arulanadam in the acting EVP slot.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

3 Responses

  1. The cancer has already much to the chagrin of the membership destroyed the host with no hope of rejuvenation and must be layed to rest.

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