We got a response to the letter! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Joel Friedman, National Rifle Association Board of Directors. Below is Mr. Friedman’s entire email to me, posted here verbatim, with his permission.
Dear Ms. Johnson;
It seems that you wish to get a response from each board member individually.
Ok, before we go any further, just so there’s no doubt or confusion… In case any other Board Members read this, yes. Yes, indeed. The reason all 300 of us signed on to this letter is because… we… were… hoping… to… hear… back… from… you. Not your staff, not your colleagues, not your representative, not your avatar. YOU. You are our elected leaders. We’re sorry to impose. But yeah, it would be really super awesome to hear from EACH of you. To those board members who have already replied (whether by phone, email, formal letter, smoke signal, etc.), thanks again. No really – I sincerely thank you. To the others, we hope to hear from you soon. Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program.
To that end I shall oblige your request as well as the 300 or 300 plus members that have also asked for some type of response. I would however request that when you forward this, please remove my email address as getting hundreds and hundreds or even thousands of emails will create a tremendous burden on me, one I do not believe I deserve.
Firstly, on the question of recusing oneself. I as a board member of the NRA as well as a trustee of the NRA foundation, not only do I not receive any money nor do I have any relatives or relatives of family members employed by NRA, NRA foundation, or Ackerman McQueen or doing business with any of them, frankly, I don’t even turn in all the receipts that I’m allowed to turn in for payment of all of my expenses. Therefore, I believe that there is no reason for me to recuse myself from any of the issues involving the NRA and/or the NRA foundation that they are involved in.
The battle we are currently going through makes the battle in 1996, 97, 98 (when the attempt to take over the organization from the inside for the purpose of taking the money failed) to be child’s play next to the well-orchestrated, well-funded, issues we now face and it is my belief, and I can only use the word belief, that all of this can be credited to Mr. Bloomberg and his organizations.
The amount of negative media that you are getting is again a result of a very well-orchestrated effort to not only create dissension within our membership but to also ATTEMPT to cripple us financially so that we are not able to fully do the things that our mission statement our members support has always required us to do.
As an attorney, I’m sure you are aware of the limitations imposed upon all of the Board of Directors and Trustees with respect to information that is freely available. To this end though, I will tell you that, the board has approved a VERY carefully, considered, vetted budget and the staff is sticking to the letter of it. All of this media about us being in deep financial trouble is just not true.
I can also tell you that while you are disappointed in the committee stated in your letters, these committees are very, very carefully, and have been very, very carefully vetting any and all areas of the organization to address the type of issues that you are concerned about as well as some you may not be familiar with. This process continues on a regular basis and has been going on for over one year and a half.
Concerning the issue of Alaska. The cost that you are discussing has also been carefully vetted and it has been determined that the cost differences are minimal. These meetings are planned a few years ahead and in the last two decades, I can remember fall and winter meetings in locations other than Northern Virginia only a handful of times and in what most people would consider as non-glamorous destinations (Springfield, MO, Birmingham, AL, Corpus Christi, TX and Anchorage, AK). After recent inquiry, I was informed that cancelling Alaska now would cost the NRA more due to penalties. Sure, we could cancel for the sake of optics. And, in doing so, I’m sure save us from some potential media and Internet hullabaloo. But, would that be prudent from a financial standpoint? More importantly, would it be the right thing to do? I ask you, should we spend more money for the sake of optics?
I did respond to that question. Hold that thought. Let’s finish his letter first…
I wish in closing to remind you and all the other members that have signed on to your letters that these public issues began because having been advised by our insurance broker that we were completely within the law, we began offering to our members the carry guard program. The state of New York (where we are incorporated), determined that we should not be allowed to do this. It was further learned that insurance companies and banks were advised that doing business with the NRA could POTENTIALLY create a need for these companies to be CAREFULLY investigated. We therefore were forced to initiate legal action. It was determined that what had occurred was a violation of our First Amendment. While this may be a First Amendment case from a Second Amendment organization, it is much, much bigger than this. If in fact New York is successful in winning this case, it will mean that any state government can for whatever reason(s) it chooses, put any organization or business out of business by simply SUGGESTING the same thing to the insurance companies and banks. No organization or business can survive without insurance and banks and no insurance company or bank(s) wants a government doing an in-depth investigation even if they have done NOTHING WRONG. The cost to go through such a thing both financially as well from a public relations standpoint is so prohibitive that these companies will do almost anything not to have that occur. This means that should a local government be able to do this, organizations such as the Red Cross, Planned Parenthood, Volunteers of America, the SPCA could all be put out of business in the same way. Therefore, this fight is really concerning the whole country and if we are going to live in a society that is totally controlled by the whims of local government.
I thank you for your concern, however please allow me to tell you that most of us on the Board of Directors understand our responsibilities to not only the membership but to firearms owners nationwide and many of us have not been, and will continue not to be sleeping very well for what should amount to the next 2 to 2 ½ years. You have elected us to do the job and represent you.
We are doing all that we can to live up to your expectations and trust.
Board Member NRA
Trustee NRA Foundation
And there you have it! 😀 😀 😀 As others respond (if anyone else responds), I’ll continue sharing their replies here if they permit me to do so. If anyone is dissatisfied with Friedman’s response, well, hey, all I can say is at least we heard from him.
Oh, and about that whole Anchorage thing… here was the relevant part of my reply:
You asked for my opinion on whether we should “spend more money for the sake of optics.” Unfortunately my answer won’t be very helpful – I have no idea. Given all the secrecy and confidentiality, I just don’t have enough concrete information to have an evidence-based opinion on that issue. Only the Board can decide that. But given how catastrophic the optics are right now, and given the size of some of the alleged expenditures of executives in recent months, it’s very possible the answer could be, yes, the optics might be worth the cost in cancellation penalties. But again, I can’t offer a reliable opinion on that without any hard numbers, which I presume are confidential. So, we have no choice but to defer to the Board.
What I do know is that your response here is a THOUSAND times better than total silence. From the perspective on the ground, the NRA’s (seeming) lack of response is even more damaging than an outright admission that all the negative allegations are true. Having no response whatsoever just invites people to start filling in the blanks, making assumptions, drawing conclusions. So, again, I am grateful for your response, and I know a lot of the people who signed my letter will be too. Most of them do not want to hear or believe bad news about the NRA. They just want to hear something ─ anything ─ to help them rest assured that no one is, shall we say, drinking champagne on the Titanic, as it were.
I said it in my letter, and I’ll say it again: I support the NRA. I want to help. If there is anything at all that I can do to help, please let me know.
6 comments on “Letter Response: “Expectations and Trust””
As a relatively new follower of NRA politics is was nice to see a direct communication from a board member that indicates that the organizations finances are in satisfactory shape. Mr. Friedman’s disclosure makes me feel better about throwing those never ending 3-4 page letters, from WLP about the need for additional donations, in the trash.
Do the annual NRA business meetings include an informative financial report worth listening to?
Thanks for your efforts in this area. I look forward to future reports and would be happy to do what I can to assist.
Hi, William –
Thanks for chiming in. There are officer reports at the members meeting, but those reports don’t really go into much detail. They’re really more about generalities and platitudes. I fear the NRA’s financial status is nearing crisis mode, if it isn’t already there. Here’s the Secretary’s report from April 2019, but again, I don’t think it really tells the whole story.
Mr. Friedman’s somewhat terse response–I couldn’t evade the sensation a subtext was “quit jostling our elbows and let the adults do their work”–utterly ignores some of the 800 pound apes in the room, primarily WLP’s proliferate spending and other dubious choices.
Perhaps there are compelling reasons for the non-responsiveness on the WLP front, but boy do current circumstances gum up all the pleas he signs that end up in my mailbox citing endless existential threats while sporting a tie that likely costs more than I spend brown bagging lunch for a week. Or three. In view of current unresponsive circumstances I’ve been writing “return to sender” on the front of his money pleas, and “Full Disclosure Now!” on the back and then dropping them back in the mail.
Perhaps there is a profound strategic, or even tactical reason the rank and file should stand mute in the face of all the proliferate spending intimations that have been leaked, but it would sure be nice if someone at the NRA shared something with us plebes other than “sky still falling, send more money now!”
The problem for members is being able to decide how much the organization is spending money we give them to do things we benefit from rather than enriching themselves.
As an example of this the Trace email yesterday said “A charity watchdog calculates that NRA leader Wayne LaPierre is the second highest paid nonprofit boss, excluding hospitals and medical professionals”. The Trace was founded by Bloomberg.
Glad you received a response. Having sat on boards of several small organizations, I understand only certain information is suitable for dissemination to the general public. Your response hit the nail right on the head. The average NRA member is only hearing bad news. We are hearing nothing from the NRA, save massive fund raising requests to save the organization from financial failure. That leaves, for me, to believe at least some of it is true. Thank you for organizing this letter writing campaign. Hopefully the NRA will come out the other side a stronger organization.
Thanks so much, Bob! ?
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