While the National Rifle Association’s internal and external troubles are making headlines with a new lawsuit filed against its advertising agency and an open letter of support for CEO Wayne LaPierre posted on the organization’s website, the CEO of United Airlines was challenged during a stockholders’ meeting this week about the airline’s decision to end an NRA discount after last year’s Florida school shooting.
According to Reuters, when he was quizzed about the end of the discount program for NRA members, United CEO Oscar Munoz said the decision was made because the daughter of a United pilot was among the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. As reported by Inc.com, an “activist investor” from the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) challenged Munoz’ decision, “and …Munoz took the bait.”
Inc.com said Justin Danhof, identified as a lawyer for NCPPR, told Munoz, “I suppose you are ignoring the fact that the NRA had nothing to do with what happened in Parkland…But, hey, congratulations on your virtue signaling. What exactly did investors get out of that?”
Inc. writer Bill Murphy Jr. quizzed some United employees, and found that by an unscientific 4-1 margin, the workers didn’t agree with Munoz’ decision at all. The article quoted some of those employees.
One said, “If it was political then he doesn’t speak for us that do support the NRA. If it was personal, then I suggest he step down since he [can’t] seem to separate personal decisions from business decisions.”
Another unidentified employ reportedly stated, “It was a personal opinion, not mine! Shame on him.” And a third employee said Munoz “doesn’t speak for me and he is NOT my family.”
This airline flap erupted as NRA was heading to court in Northern Virginia to sue the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, alleging that the firm “shared sensitive information with outsiders in an effort to ‘tarnish and ultimately destroy the public image of the NRA and its senior leadership’,” according to The Daily Beast. The report also revealed another NRA allegation against the advertising firm, that Ackerman McQueen allegedly tried to ignite “a (failed) executive coup.”
It was that alleged effort that apparently resulted in the sudden departure of then-NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North as the NRA convention began in Indianapolis last month.
Ackerman McQueen issued a statement, quoted by The Daily Beast, that said in part, “It is a sad day for NRA members that their leadership is more focused on attacking partners than fighting for freedom.”
The statement asserted that NRA’s new lawsuit “is another reckless attempt to scapegoat Ackerman McQueen for the NRA’s own breakdown in governance, compliance and leadership.”
“We have done our job to protect the brand for decades,” the statement added, “and have continued to do so despite shameless and inaccurate attacks on our integrity and our personnel by a leadership group that is desperate to make this a story about anything other than their own failures.”
Meanwhile, current and former NRA officers published an open letter to members on the NRA website, expressing support for embattled Executive Vice President LaPierre.
The letter states that during the April 29 directors’ meeting, LaPierre “was elected by acclamation to continue serving as our CEO and Executive Vice President.”
The letter also notes, “Perhaps looking for a way to counter the narrative about a stronger, more unified NRA, questions have now conveniently surfaced about our financial situation and our standing in the regulatory arena. There also have been frequent attacks on Wayne’s personal character.”
“Fact,” the letter says, “According to the NRA’s chief financial officer, we are on budget in 2019. The NRA is meeting all banking and supplier financial obligations and we continue to aggressively manage our cost structure to offset the orchestrated and calculated attacks against NRA’s finances in 2018. Put another way, our financial house is in order – we aren’t going away. We have full confidence in the NRA’s accounting practices and commitment to good governance.”
According to the letter, reported “lavish expenditures” by LaPierre on clothing “dated back to expenses from 15 years ago” and that “the vast majority of the travel in question” was related to “donor outreach, fundraising, and stakeholder engagement.”
The letter was signed by NRA President Carolyn Meadows, First Vice President Charles Cotton, Second Vice President Lt. Col. (Ret.) Willes Lee and past NRA presidents Allan D. Cors, David Keene, Ronald Schmeits, John Sigler, Sandra Froman, Kayne Robinson, Marion Hammer and Robert Corbin.
“We are not inclined to further discuss unfounded attacks on our organization, political infighting, or a ‘weakened’ NRA,” they stated. “However, we will say this: Our adversaries will not divide us and any further discussion about the so-called ‘demise of the NRA’ is only meant to distract us from our mission. This is how it goes when you stand on the bedrock of constitutional freedom – and represent the last line of defense against a campaign to take down the Second Amendment.”
At least one NRA Director—former Congressman and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West—has called on LaPierre to resign. There has also been considerable discussion about NRA’s troubles on social media, with some dissidents encouraging members to withhold contributions until changes are made. On the other side, other NRA members remind the critics that the organization needs to be united against the gun prohibition movement and a decidedly anti-gun Democratic Party leadership including two dozen presidential aspirants who are all pushing some form of gun control as part of their campaigns.