Mendacity, stupidity, and bad taste are not illegal, points out Kevin Williams in NRO. And Wayne LaPierre, CEO of National Rifle Association, is certainly not the first non-profit high roller. Think back to the 90s, for example. Elizabeth Dole’s salary as CEO of Red Cross was not illegal but perhaps was not proper. Even though Mrs. Dole donated her salary back to the organization, there was plenty of moral indignation.
LaPierre Has Not Been Charged with a Crime
If there is a fraud or tax case to be made against LaPierre or other NRA members, however, then “New York State and the feds should indict them and present such a case as they have in accordance with the high evidentiary standards of a court of criminal justice.”
But that is not what is happening. LaPierre has been charged with no crime, and there is no indication at this moment that he is on the verge of being charged with a crime.
NY AG Attempting to Legally Dissolve NRO
Instead, New York attorney general Letitia James is attempting to have the NRA legally dissolved as an organization. This is in accordance with her campaign promises to ruin the organization through legal means — a clear abuse of prosecutorial power in the service of a political vendetta. This is part of a nationwide Democratic campaign.
From a National Review’s editorial:
In San Francisco, they declared the NRA a “terrorist organization”; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to use financial regulators to deprive the NRA of access to banking services and insurance, thereby ending its ability to engage in organized public advocacy; in Los Angeles, the city demanded that any NRA member doing business with the city identify himself, an attack on the First Amendment that was almost immediately shut down by a federal judge acknowledging the “overwhelming” evidence that the purpose of this was “to suppress the message of the NRA.”
What’s Going On
- Political jihad that may or may not end with the NRA’s having its charter revoked but that certainly will subject it to ruinous litigation costs and disruption, a transparent effort to sideline it before the November election.
- A longer-term effort to discredit the NRA by appealing to the same kind of envy-based politics that were deployed against Mrs. Dole all those years ago.
- Currently being treated almost as an afterthought, is a legitimate investigation into potential financial wrongdoing at the NRA, of which there is more than a whiff.
The NRA Is Genuinely Bipartisan
NRA insiders have long complained about a culture of self-dealing and financial shenanigans at the organization, and there is much that looks fishy. If it is true that LaPierre, the NRA’s CEO, did in fact use another company to pass on personal expenses to the NRA while camouflaging that compensation from the organization and the IRS, then he would be very likely to be found guilty of a number of state and federal felonies. That is a real charge.
The NRA was extraordinarily successful as an advocacy organization in part because it was singularly focused and, as a consequence, genuinely bipartisan.
Harry Reid, who got more left-wing by the minute as the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, was solid on the Second Amendment, and the NRA treated him as a valued ally.
The 2nd Amendment – the Line in the Sand
But as American politics grew more tribal after the turn of the century and new forms of communication arose, politics became less a matter of choosing from a basket of policies and more a matter of community and identity. It is very difficult to imagine a contemporary Democrat rising to a senior leadership position while remaining a nonconformist on the Second Amendment or abortion. Over time, the Second Amendment was transformed from a largely but not exclusively Republican issue into a line in the sand.
This is not about Wayne LaPierre’s bar tab or who pays LaPierre to jet set from point a to point b, continues Mr. Williamson. What is going on in New York State is “totalitarianism on the subscription plan, the slow emergence of a distributed police state whose headquarters is nowhere and whose jurisdiction is everywhere.”