Lift your glasses and drink a toast to 2019, Wonkers, because this was the year the NRA as we know it died. Oh sure, the gunhumpers lobby is still stumbling around like a dangerous drunk, hurling insults and lawsuits. But the NRA will never again re-establish its stranglehold over American politics. This year, the self-dealing and grift at the core of the organization was laid bare, and now it’s just a mad rush for the principals to steal as much as they can before the entire edifice comes crashing down around them. YOU LOVE TO SEE IT!
As is so often the case, we have the ladies to thank for this one. Building on the momentum of last year’s March for Our Lives, Shannon Watts and the badass bosses at Moms Demand Action built a network to support candidates who’ll fight for gun control. Turns out, parents are really sick of being scared for their kids all the time and don’t actually think constant lock down drills and armed teachers is a price worth paying to protect our sacred right to walk around with giant cannons strapped to our hips. Go know!
And while Watts was busy building a social movement, New York Attorney General Letitia James pulled the pin on the grenade that went off inside the organization itself. James had campaigned promising to take on the gun lobby, which is chartered in New York, and shortly after being sworn in James announced she was auditing the NRA’s books. This put the gunhumpers on a collision course with their longtime advertising company Ackerman McQueen. Because while the NRA could just cop to illegally failing to report a few hundred thousand dollars worth of “related party transactions” — like buying ammo from a board member, or secretly paying a fundraising firm owned by a board member’s wife — they couldn’t brush off a $40 million annual expenditure to Ackerman. Because that’s where they buried all the bodies.
It started with the NRA demanding a full accounting from Ackerman and a disclosure of the company’s contract with Oliver North. When North quit his job as a teevee conservative to come be President of the Gun Nuts, he was given a contract with Ackerman to star in a show on NRATV. Ackerman produced the programming in house, passing the costs on to the NRA. Which meant that if the NRA wanted to stay on the right side of Johnny Law, it would need to cough up the details of this particular “related party transaction” on its annual disclosure. When Ackerman refused to produce the contract, the NRA sued, Ackerman countersued, and pretty soon the entire scene had descended into trench warfare.