After relocating its fall board of directors meeting from Alaska to Washington, D.C., the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action sent out a bizarre fundraising email targeting a big-ticket donor by name and attacking “dissidents” within the organization, claiming “nobody else can do what NRA does."
NRA member and major donor David Dell’Aquila took issue with the high cost of holding the board of directors meeting in Alaska, “demanding that the board cancel its upcoming ‘cruise/fishing adventure.’” Dell’Aquila, who has reportedly donated at least $100,000 to the organization and pledged millions more, published a letter to the NRA’s board in July, writing: “If you can justify such an expense given the current financial crisis of the NRA, you have the ears of over a 100 million voters who want to understand your rationale for this, and literally a dozen other financial irregularities.”
Following multiple allegations of financial mismanagement, Dell’Aquila launched an effort to oust NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and pledged to withhold any future donations until he is removed. Dell’Aquila also filed a lawsuit against the gun group and LaPierre for “fraud in the solicitation of donations,” claiming that the NRA “alleged that the donations would be used for gun safety education; to promote shooting sports and hunter safety, to foster wildlife conservation; and to protect gun ownership rights in the United States” but instead were spent on clothing, private jet travel and other personal benefits to LaPierre.
In an August 27 email, the NRA’s general counsel announced to the board of directors that the fall meeting was being relocated to the Washington, D.C., area because of “several gun-control proposals” being considered at the federal level. The email went on to explain the organization “could more effectively influence Congress in close proximity to legislators” as they decide whether to consider a package of gun safety bills following recent, high-profile mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.
Two days after the NRA announced it was relocating the meeting to D.C., the organization’s lobbying arm sent out a fundraising email from former NRA President Marion Hammer asking in the subject line, “How Much Are David Dell’Aquila’s Gun Rights Worth?” and writing that the NRA donor “may have abandoned the only organization capable of protecting your rights -- shame on you.”
The emailed stated “it was imperative that the meeting be moved” because “Anti-Gun Democrats” were trying to “take advantage of Wayne LaPierre, NRA Board members and key NRA staff members being in Alaska.”
The email took aim at so-called “dissidents” within the NRA, claiming “they can't even hold Wayne LaPierre's coat” while playing up the NRA leader’s close ties to President Donald Trump. Hammer insisted, “It’s time to stop the lies, stop the attacks, stop manufacturing fake documents, stop cutting your nose off to spite your face.”
Hammer’s fundraising email comes after a previous email demanding board members fall in line behind LaPierre and said those who won’t should “consider whether or not they want to help us save the Second Amendment or continue on a course detrimental to NRA and our mission.” When three board members subsequently resigned, Hammer said they “made a treacherous attempt to overthrow leadership” and told them, “Don’t let the door hit you in the back on your way out.”