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islander

islander Avatar

Location: Seattle
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 9, 2020 - 7:55pm



 kurtster wrote:


Agree with your entire statement, 100%. This is how I see what is going on as well. The lady made it a campaign promise in 2018 to kill the NRA. She is doing whatever it takes to keep her promise.

 

Wait, I thought you liked it when politicians threw away decorum and did whatever it took to fulfill campaign promises, legal or not. 'Burn the whole thing down' was the professed sentiment. Aren't you still mad at Trump for not locking up Hillary when he had a majority in the house and senate?
kurtster

kurtster Avatar

Location: drifting
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 9, 2020 - 5:38pm

 Lazy8 wrote:
kcar wrote
and wrote
and wrote:

(a massive wad of verbiage)

Before you spew another keyboardfull at replying to my posts, let's take a moment to clarify what it is you're responding to.

My objection to the NYAG's action is this: it is a transparent attempt to take a political rival out of the public conversation. The harm done to the organization by its leadership will not be corrected by destroying the organization. The crocodile tears being shed for the organizations members and donors are a cynical and dishonest cover for the action.

The NRA is a true grass-roots organization. Its governing board is nominated and elected by the members. We could contrast this to governance of, say, any of Michael Bloomberg's astroturf organizations...but I digress.

That membership is who the leadership needs to answer to. It's their money being spent and misspent, not the NYAG's and not the State of New York's. At the last annual meeting Wayne LaPierre just barely held onto his job, and I suspect he won't survive this. Nor should he, but the millions of members it represents should not be silenced over this. And that's what this is about a government official abusing her power to silence an organization she and her political cronies don't like.

Let's look at some precedents:

In 1992 the CEO of United Way of America was caught embezzling from the organization. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and served 6 years in prison. The United Way charity survived and still does good work.

Covenant House is a youth homeless shelter that operates in many cities in the US. Its founder, Father Bruce Ritter, was accused of sexual misconduct with numerous residents and misappropriating funds. He stepped down but was never prosecuted, and the charity (headquartered in New York, under the jurisdiction of the NYAG) survives to this day.

In 2002 NYAG Elliot Spitzer indicted Lorraine Hale and her husband, Jesse DeVore for misappropriating funds from Hale House Foundation, a substance abuse counseling and halfway house charity. He also sued them to recover funds used by them for a lavish lifestyle. Hale House Foundation survives to this day.

The pretext of protecting members and donors is not credible and the New York political establishment's hostility toward NRA is well-documented. That's what I'm objecting to. If you want to fill another few pages feel free, but recognize that you haven't been addressing that core issue.
 
Agree with your entire statement, 100%.  This is how I see what is going on as well.  The lady made it a campaign promise in 2018 to kill the NRA.  She is doing whatever it takes to keep her promise.
kcar

kcar Avatar



Posted: Aug 8, 2020 - 10:10pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
kcar wrote
and wrote
and wrote:

(a massive wad of verbiage)

Before you spew another keyboardfull at replying to my posts, let's take a moment to clarify what it is you're responding to.

My objection to the NYAG's action is this: it is a transparent attempt to take a political rival out of the public conversation. The harm done to the organization by its leadership will not be corrected by destroying the organization. The crocodile tears being shed for the organizations members and donors are a cynical and dishonest cover for the action.

The NRA is a true grass-roots organization. Its governing board is nominated and elected by the members. We could contrast this to governance of, say, any of Michael Bloomberg's astroturf organizations...but I digress.

That membership is who the leadership needs to answer to. It's their money being spent and misspent, not the NYAG's and not the State of New York's. At the last annual meeting Wayne LaPierre just barely held onto his job, and I suspect he won't survive this. Nor should he, but the millions of members it represents should not be silenced over this. And that's what this is about a government official abusing her power to silence an organization she and her political cronies don't like.

Let's look at some precedents:

In 1992 the CEO of United Way of America was caught embezzling from the organization. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and served 6 years in prison. The United Way charity survived and still does good work.

Covenant House is a youth homeless shelter that operates in many cities in the US. Its founder, Father Bruce Ritter, was accused of sexual misconduct with numerous residents and misappropriating funds. He stepped down but was never prosecuted, and the charity (headquartered in New York, under the jurisdiction of the NYAG) survives to this day.

In 2002 NYAG Elliot Spitzer indicted Lorraine Hale and her husband, Jesse DeVore for misappropriating funds from Hale House Foundation, a substance abuse counseling and halfway house charity. He also sued them to recover funds used by them for a lavish lifestyle. Hale House Foundation survives to this day.

The pretext of protecting members and donors is not credible and the New York political establishment's hostility toward NRA is well-documented. That's what I'm objecting to. If you want to fill another few pages feel free, but recognize that you haven't been addressing that core issue.
 

"(a massive wad of verbiage)"


What a shame it was too, too long for you to read. That verbiage proved you wrong six ways to Sunday.



"My objection to the NYAG's action is this: it is a transparent attempt to take a political rival out of the public conversation. The harm done to the organization by its leadership will not be corrected by destroying the organization. The crocodile tears being shed for the organizations members and donors are a cynical and dishonest cover for the action."


Prove it.
My "verbiage" proved that you were and are wrong, however.


..."the New York political establishment's hostility toward NRA is well-documented."

Provide pointers to such documentation. Maybe you can, maybe you can't. But when you post such words without backing it up, you remind me of the family friend/angry drunk who never could back up his "everybody knows" claims (e.g. that blacks can't read, that Jews run secret controlling organizations, etc. And this guy was a high-level executive in Scott Paper Company).


Here's why I took up this matter with you: since you in your first post referred to the NY AG as "he" when in fact the NY AG was a woman, it was pretty clear to me that you didn't even read the news article that recounted the EXTENSIVE evidence of decades-long and systemic fraud, illegal practices and absence of fiduciary and financial oversight.

Instead, you leapt to the conclusion—without providing any supporting evidence—that the 18 month-long investigation into the NRA was a political hit job and completely unmerited.

If you were a somewhat well-read teenager, I'd let it pass. But you're quite well educated and articulate, so I expect better from you, Lazy8.

If you think that the NY AG's move to dissolve the NRA is excessive or has no legal merit, I invite you to put your knee-jerk, uninformed reaction DOWN and investigate further.

Investigate for yourself and ANSWER YOUR OWN QUESTION
as to the difference between the handling of the United Way scandal, Covenant House, etc. and the move to dissolve the NRA.

I'm pretty sure that the NY AG's office has sufficient cause to push for the dissolution of the NRA. The NY AG  and her staff are highly trained and experienced lawyers. Their reputation rides on presenting strong cases. The NRA has its own outstanding legal staff to fight the NY AG. It's also about as politically connected as you can get. Taking on the NRA without sufficient cause, precedent and legal foundation is suicide for the careers of the NY AG and the reputation of the office itself. Moving against the NRA with or without sufficient cause will likely get conservatives to rally round the Association. Not such a great move in a presidential election year, especially if solely motivated by anti-conservative feelings.


HAD YOU BOTHERED TO RESEARCH AND READ—you would have found NY AG's statements justifying her decision:

BBC:

The corruption "is so broad", Ms James said, that total dissolution of the organisation is necessary.

Responding to questions, Ms James, a Democrat, rejected the notion that the charges against the NRA - closely tied to the Republican party - were at all influenced by her own politics. 

"We followed the facts and the law," she said. "We've come to the conclusion that the NRA unfortunately was serving as a personal piggy bank to four individual defendants."

NY TIMES


New York’s attorney general issued an existential challenge to the National Rifle Association on Thursday, arguing in a lawsuit that years of runaway corruption and misspending demanded the dissolution of the nation’s most powerful gun rights lobby.


...

Ms. James — who has special jurisdiction over the N.R.A. because it was chartered as a nonprofit in New York 148 years ago — also sued four current or former N.R.A. leaders, seeking tens of millions of dollars in restitution.


...

The lawsuit accuses the N.R.A. and the executives of “violating numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves, as well as their friends, families and allies, and taking improper actions that cost the organization $64 million over three years. Ms. James is also seeking to oust Mr. LaPierre and Mr. Frazer, and to bar all four men from serving on nonprofit boards in New York again.

The lawsuit, which was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, is a civil action, and it outlined a number of alleged tax violations. Ms. James said during a news conference that she was referring the matter to the Internal Revenue Service in addition to taking her own action, and did not rule out making a future criminal referral.

...

Among the numerous alleged violations laid out by Ms. James’s office, some were related to false reporting of annual filings both to the state and the I.R.S. Her office also cited “improper expense documentation, improper wage reporting, improper income tax withholding” and failing to make required excise tax reporting and payment, among other issues.

SLATE.COM

The lawsuit functions as a proxy attack on corrupt organizations that have escaped real scrutiny for years. It is virtually impossible to read the allegations of misconduct cataloged—LaPierre is alleged to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private travel, for himself and his family, staying at luxury golf clubs, expensing lavish meals and pricey hotels and travel services—without replaying the whole song in the key of Trump. In her press conference announcing the lawsuit, James very deliberately noted that she was taking this action to shutter the NRA, “just as we did with the Trump Foundation,” which agreed to shut down under judicial supervision in 2018. She described the organization
as “a breeding ground for greed, abuse, and brazen illegality.” It was impossible to ignore the echoes of Trumpian conduct in the attorney general’s claim that the abuse, corruption, and fraud had gone unchecked for years because the group appeared all-powerful, but also that “no organization is above the law.”





Unfortunately, you have a really bad habit of assuming that government institutions are wholly captured by politics, personal and institutional animus, etc. You use this one-size-fits-all take to frame your opinion on just about every relevant news issue.

If you've warmed up your reading and thinking habits, you could also try responding to my months-ago post, asking you how a Libertarian Party would respond to crises requiring massive government intervention. You might remember that I referred you to Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgenson's NPR interview. I found her suggested policies for containing the pandemic and propping out the US economy quite lacking but you can pick up her lines of thought by reading the interview and expanding on them.

As for  Jo's approach to fighting global warming, she wants to push nuclear power plants...and that's pretty much it. But as I wrote before, the Libertarian Party seems so shackled to its promotion of limited government that it would be HELPLESS during the crises we have now.

I do hope all this wasn't too long for you to read. Really, when you use this "tl;dr" dodge I mostly feel pity for you. 
haresfur

haresfur Avatar

Location: The Golden Triangle
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 8, 2020 - 7:01pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
kcar wrote
and wrote
and wrote:

(a massive wad of verbiage)

Before you spew another keyboardfull at replying to my posts, let's take a moment to clarify what it is you're responding to.

My objection to the NYAG's action is this: it is a transparent attempt to take a political rival out of the public conversation. The harm done to the organization by its leadership will not be corrected by destroying the organization. The crocodile tears being shed for the organizations members and donors are a cynical and dishonest cover for the action.

The NRA is a true grass-roots organization. Its governing board is nominated and elected by the members.
We could contrast this to governance of, say, any of Michael Bloomberg's astroturf organizations...but I digress.

That membership is who the leadership needs to answer to. It's their money being spent and misspent, not the NYAG's and not the State of New York's. At the last annual meeting Wayne LaPierre just barely held onto his job, and I suspect he won't survive this. Nor should he, but the millions of members it represents should not be silenced over this. And that's what this is about a government official abusing her power to silence an organization she and her political cronies don't like.

Let's look at some precedents:

In 1992 the CEO of United Way of America was caught embezzling from the organization. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and served 6 years in prison. The United Way charity survived and still does good work.

Covenant House is a youth homeless shelter that operates in many cities in the US. Its founder, Father Bruce Ritter, was accused of sexual misconduct with numerous residents and misappropriating funds. He stepped down but was never prosecuted, and the charity (headquartered in New York, under the jurisdiction of the NYAG) survives to this day.

In 2002 NYAG Elliot Spitzer indicted Lorraine Hale and her husband, Jesse DeVore for misappropriating funds from Hale House Foundation, a substance abuse counseling and halfway house charity. He also sued them to recover funds used by them for a lavish lifestyle. Hale House Foundation survives to this day.

The pretext of protecting members and donors is not credible and the New York political establishment's hostility toward NRA is well-documented. That's what I'm objecting to. If you want to fill another few pages feel free, but recognize that you haven't been addressing that core issue.
 
I would have a lot easier time mustering some sympathy for the NRA grass roots if they had held their leadership in check and stuck to their core of gun safety and sportsmanship. As it is the leadership took the organization in a direction that increased the number of members to rort.  So you didn't do your job to keep your grass roots organization honest. We shall see if NY can make a strong enough case in court regarding disbanding the organization. That's what courts are for. But I expect that a bargain will be reached to preserve the NRA with a more restricted mandate to stay out of politics.
 
Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 8, 2020 - 10:30am

kcar wrote
and wrote
and wrote:

(a massive wad of verbiage)

Before you spew another keyboardfull at replying to my posts, let's take a moment to clarify what it is you're responding to.

My objection to the NYAG's action is this: it is a transparent attempt to take a political rival out of the public conversation. The harm done to the organization by its leadership will not be corrected by destroying the organization. The crocodile tears being shed for the organizations members and donors are a cynical and dishonest cover for the action.

The NRA is a true grass-roots organization. Its governing board is nominated and elected by the members. We could contrast this to governance of, say, any of Michael Bloomberg's astroturf organizations...but I digress.

That membership is who the leadership needs to answer to. It's their money being spent and misspent, not the NYAG's and not the State of New York's. At the last annual meeting Wayne LaPierre just barely held onto his job, and I suspect he won't survive this. Nor should he, but the millions of members it represents should not be silenced over this. And that's what this is about a government official abusing her power to silence an organization she and her political cronies don't like.

Let's look at some precedents:

In 1992 the CEO of United Way of America was caught embezzling from the organization. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and served 6 years in prison. The United Way charity survived and still does good work.

Covenant House is a youth homeless shelter that operates in many cities in the US. Its founder, Father Bruce Ritter, was accused of sexual misconduct with numerous residents and misappropriating funds. He stepped down but was never prosecuted, and the charity (headquartered in New York, under the jurisdiction of the NYAG) survives to this day.

In 2002 NYAG Elliot Spitzer indicted Lorraine Hale and her husband, Jesse DeVore for misappropriating funds from Hale House Foundation, a substance abuse counseling and halfway house charity. He also sued them to recover funds used by them for a lavish lifestyle. Hale House Foundation survives to this day.

The pretext of protecting members and donors is not credible and the New York political establishment's hostility toward NRA is well-documented. That's what I'm objecting to. If you want to fill another few pages feel free, but recognize that you haven't been addressing that core issue.
kcar

kcar Avatar



Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 3:39pm


Other news organizations are reporting on the NRA's troubles that existed before the NY AG's announcement. According to the Brian Mittendorf piece I've excerpted below and an NY Post piece Mittendorf links to, the NRA itself warned in 2018 court filings that it might financially collapse.


Financial documents show the NRA is living 'paycheck to paycheck,' and ended 2018 $10.8 million in the red
Christopher Woody
Jun 15, 2019, 2:44 PM



The NRA Uses Creative Accounting to Post Surge in Revenue


By Neil Weinberg and David Voreacos

July 10, 2019, 4:00 AM EDT

* Multiyear sales, rather than new members, may be fueling rise

* Group asking members for assistance amid internal turmoil






Brian Mittendorf, the Ohio State University accounting professor studying nonprofits and cited in other news articles that I've excerpted, comments on his analysis of the NRA.


The NRA’s Financial Weakness, Explained

Political clout doesn’t guarantee a healthy bottom line.


The best reflection of an organization’s financial cushion is its unrestricted net assets — an accounting measure of how much money it has available to spend.

The NRA had negative $31.8 million on hand at the end of 2017, according to the form all nonprofits must file with the IRS. The group, which spent an average of $278.3 million a year, had a negative balance at the end of six of the previous 10 years.


...


This is very different from how two other prominent organizations operate. Consider the financial health of the American Civil Liberties Union, a civil rights group, and the AARP,
which advocates on behalf of people who are 50 and older. Like the NRA’s main arm, they are 501(c)(4) social welfare groups that have a national reach and name recognition, and that engage in public policy advocacy.

The ACLU — although its budget is only a third of the NRA’s — had unrestricted net assets worth $140.2 million when 2017 came to a close, according to its tax form. And the AARP — whose annual budget is nearly five times that of the NRA — finished with a balance over $1.3 billion.

The NRA’s circumstances stand out by comparison not just with its peers but with all nonprofits. IRS data, including for fledgling startups, indicate fewer than 7 percent of American nonprofits ended 2017 with a negative balance.


...


The financial struggles have even led the organization itself to warn that it could possibly collapse in court filings.

Despite this drama, however, the organization has a robust revenue stream because of a large member base, loyal contributors and the revenue it still gets from ads that run in its print publications and commercials that air on its video channel, NRA TV — even amid a successful boycott led by gun control advocates.

That means cutting back on spending can work wonders. Early signs, such as reduced election spending and job cuts, indicate such parsimony is getting underway.

Though it owes more money to others than it has freely available to pay them back, the NRA isn’t in immediate danger.


Much of what the NRA owes won’t come due for a while.
Its two prominent liabilities are services it owes to members who have prepaid their dues for multiple years and what it owes its retirees — its pension fund is underfunded by $49.7 million.



Despite signs of a more frugal path forward, there are three reasons why the NRA’s financial situation could get worse instead of better.

1) It relies heavily on telemarketers...

2)  It borrows money from the NRA Foundation...

3)  It needs more cash for underfunded pension obligations...




And finally, Vox.com weighs in:

Why the NRA is struggling

Legislative defeats, financial problems, and a surprisingly difficult ally in the White House.

By Jane Coastonjane.coaston@vox.com
Jan 17, 2019, 5:00am EST




kcar

kcar Avatar



Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 3:13pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
kcar wrote:
For someone who apparently hasn't even bothered to read the news articles and the AG's press release, you sure do have a lot to say.

Again, if you'd read the news about the NRA, you'd realize the organization is in considerable financial as well as legal trouble.

If James's case had no merit, she'd be shredded in court and her reputation destroyed. The state's investigation into the NRA has been going on for eighteen months. New York AG's office has extensive evidence of corruption, malfeasance as well as failure to carry out proper board governance duties and accurate annual accounting.

I invite you to read more and speculate less.

You need to distinguish between reading an article and believing every word of it uncritically. The NYAG claiming that 'the four top executives "have basically destroyed all the assets of the NRA..."' is particularly laughable. Really, all of them? Including massive facilities like the Whittington Center and the headquarters in Fairfax, the revenue streams from training and event sanctioning, its millions of dues-paying members, all gone? Please. The NRA has massively deep pockets, something its executives have been using to line their own, but the amounts they have been accused of misappropriating don't come close to putting the organization out of business.

The latest Form 990 I could find for NRA is from 2018. That year they posted a loss of $2.7M on revenue of $352.5M. This is not "considerable financial trouble", that's a deficit of .8%. I'm sure the NYAG would like NRA to be in considerable financial trouble, and the legal costs of fighting for its life could do that, but that would be the result of this lawsuit, not mismanagement within NRA—egregious as that is.
 

Maybe you don't care about the decades-long illegal activity and corruption at the NRA. Maybe you just want to stick to your guns that the NRA is in fine financial shape. Your position btw undercuts your argument that the NY AG could, out of political motivation, effectively hobble or halt the ability of the NRA to lobby for Trump. If the NRA had sufficient money and resources at hand, the actions of the NY AG would not get in its way of campaigning for Trump.

But the NRA is in trouble in terms of money, membership and contributions. You should take some time to at least read the first WaPo piece I've excerpted here because it contains facts that strongly contradict some of your rosier guesstimates about the NRA's finances.



Inside the NRA’s finances: Deepening debt, increased spending on legal fees — and cuts to gun training



The National Rifle Association spent growing sums on overhead in 2018 even as it cut money for core activities such as gun training and political efforts, ending the year deeper in debt, new financial documents show.

The gun rights group’s 2018 financial report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, portrays the longtime political powerhouse as spending faster than its revenue rose.

The records show that the NRA froze its pension plan for employees at the end of last year, a move that saved it close to $13 million, and obtained a $28 million line of credit by borrowing against its Virginia headquarters.

Despite that, the nonprofit group, four affiliated charities and its political committee together ended the year $10.8 million in the red. In 2017, the six groups ended the year with a $1.1 million shortfall.

Brian Mittendorf, an Ohio State University accounting professor who has studied nonprofits, including the NRA, and examined the 2018 report for The Post, said it depicted “a bad year for them financially.” He compared the NRA to a person living paycheck to paycheck, leaning on credit cards with very little cushion.

“They’ve never exhibited extreme financial conservatism,” Mittendorf said. “They’ve largely spent what they could.”


...

Amid last year’s financial crunch, the organization cut funds for gun training, a key purpose spelled out in the NRA charter. Spending for educating gun owners about safety and marksmanship dropped by nearly a quarter from 2017 to 2018, from $42.6 million to $32.7 million.

The group also pulled back from politics, spending just $9.4 million during the 2018 midterm elections, down from $27 million in the 2014 midterms, according to campaign finance filings compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

At the same time, the NRA’s spending last year on legal fees, travel, entertainment and office supplies rose — making up about 12 percent of the budget.

Professor Howard E. Abrams, a tax expert at Harvard Law School, said the NRA’s spending on overhead was “extraordinarily high.”

“It is surprising that an organization as well-known as the NRA would have to spend that much on administrative and fundraising costs,” he said. “That is money that isn’t going to legislative programs, safety and training programs, and other core activities. It is sort of a cost of running the business. But it is a big cost.”

...

Overall, the spending of the NRA and its associated groups outpaced revenue. In 2018, the NRA and its affiliates brought in $412 million and spent $423 million. In 2017, they had revenue of $378 million and spent $379 million.

The annual report, together with state filings, shows that the NRA has run a deficit for the past three years.

Despite spending more than it took in, Abrams and other tax law experts noted, the NRA has reserves: It reported nearly $145 million in total net assets.

...

The annual report obtained by The Post was made available to board members at the NRA’s annual convention in the final week of April, according to people familiar with its distribution. Details in the report were first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

The report was prepared by the NRA’s longtime independent auditor, RSM, which submitted a letter to the board describing the financial statement on March 13, according to the document.

The detailed financial statement combines the yearly expenses and revenue of the NRA, which is set up as a nonprofit social welfare organization; its PAC, the NRA Political Victory Fund; and four affiliated charitable groups: the Special Contribution Fund, the Civil Rights Defense Fund, the NRA Foundation and the NRA Freedom Action Foundation.

The consolidated statements in the 2018 annual report mask some of the challenges facing the main group, Mittendorf said. For example, in 2017, the six groups together had $6.5 million in unrestricted net assets to use as they chose — while the NRA alone had a $31.8 million deficit in that category, according to the annual report and tax filings.

The NRA has borrowed against its Fairfax headquarters, which has an assessed value of $40.4 million, the report and public filings show.

As of December, the NRA owed $25.4 million on the line of credit it negotiated in September and is paying interest of 3 percent, according to the annual report. That debt must be repaid in 2021. The NRA also owes $17 million on a 2017 credit agreement that comes due in October of this year.

Tax experts said nonprofits’ revenue often fluctuates year to year, particularly if they are affected by the election cycle. But most organizations that have high volatility in their revenue have cover for the off-years, Mittendorf said.

“The NRA doesn’t have that cushion, and we’re seeing the consequences,” he said.




Member dues plummet, leaving the NRA in the red for second straight year

By Kaitlin Washburn and Robert MaguireSeptember 19, 2018 3:43 pm

The NRA went big in 2016, breaking its own spending records to help catapult Donald Trump into the White House and protect Republican majorities in the House and Senate. The organization’s Federal Election Commission reports show that the nation’s preeminent gun-rights group spent at least $54.4 million boosting Republicans — with Donald Trump being, by far, the biggest beneficiary of that firepower, reaping $31.2 million in support.

The bulk of the NRA’s spending in 2016, $35.2 million, was channeled not through its political action committee, but through its 501(c)(4) nonprofit arm. It’s this section of the NRA — which doesn’t have to disclose its donors — whose finances are reported in the audit obtained by OpenSecrets.


...

The NRA’s massive 2016 push was part of what ultimately became a $100 million spike in the group’s outlays between 2015 and 2016. But that spending wasn’t matched with similar growth in revenue, leaving the NRA with a deficit of more than $14.8 million.

This deficit is in what’s called “unrestricted” net assets, which are funds that are available to be spent at the discretion of a board.

A year later, with its chosen candidate in office, the NRA’s spending plummeted by $76 million, according to the audit.

Life in the red

It’s normal for the spending of an organization as politically active as the NRA to rise during election years and fall in off-years when such groups tend to fundraise and try to get their financials in order. But even with such a steep decline in spending, the NRA — one of the wealthiest, most powerful political forces in the nation — remained in the red, as its revenues tumbled by $56 million.

...

“The big takeaway is that there were some red flags about their long-term financial health in 2016,” Mittendorf  (Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor from Ohio State University). told OpenSecrets, “and nothing alleviates those concerns in their 2017 financials. If anything, it shows they’re coming to fruition.”

This two-year deficit is a steep decline from the NRA’s $27.8 million in positive assets from 2015.

More striking is that one of the biggest drivers of the group’s falling revenue is dwindling dues from NRA members, which fell from more than $163 million in 2016 to $128 million in 2017.


“It’s not extremely uncommon for an organization of its size and stature to be in that circumstance,” Mittendorf said, “It would say to me, though, that something needs to give at some point. Either they need to shrink or find new sources of revenue.”

Dues were down slightly in 2016 as well, and an analysis of the NRA audits going back to 2009 — the earliest year for which such audits are available — shows that 2016 to 2017 was the only period during which dues declined for more than a single year. In 2014, for example, the NRA’s dues revenue fell by more than $47 million, but they bounced back by $37 million in 2015.

NRA revenue from member dues


But one possible indication that the group’s finances aren’t as robust as they have been in past cycles is that its election spending has slowed down considerably in 2018. The NRA has reported $2.7 million so far this cycle — mostly from its PAC — down from $19.2 million at this point in 2016 and $10.7 million at this point in 2014, the last
midterm election cycle.



Nobody knows how many members the NRA has, but its tax returns offer some clues


Updated Sep 26, 2019; Posted Feb 26, 2018

The National Rifle Association is one of the nation's most powerful lobbying groups, due in large part to its base of millions of politically active members.

But nobody really knows exactly how many dues-paying members the NRA has, because it doesn't publish annual membership figures beyond periodic allusions to "five million members."

We can, however, get a rough approximation of NRA membership by looking at how much money the group brings in each year via member dues. That information is made public through the group's IRS filings, which have been compiled by ProPublica and Mother Jones. Those numbers show a lot of annual variation, with no clear trend in recent years - a sign, perhaps, that membership is flattening out.

Since 2004, the group has averaged about $128 million a year in total membership revenue. But that number has varied from $72 million in 2006 to $228 million in 2007, a peak it hasn't come close to matching since.

Membership revenue seems to spike following mass shootings and the resultant national discussions about gun control and gun rights. For instance, that 2007 peak came in the year that a gunman murdered 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech. And in 2013, membership revenue increased by 63 percent over the previous year, following the killings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in late 2012.

Membership revenue declined slightly in 2016, the most recent year for which IRS data is available. The group also raised the price of annual memberships that year, which may have something to do with the decline.

But the NRA also takes in revenue from many other sources, such as donations.
In 2016, for instance, a single donor gave nearly $20 million to the group, according to its IRS filing. Earlier this year, McClatchy reported that the NRA is under FBI investigation into whether a Russian banker funneled money through the group to help then-candidate Donald
Trump.

That money from donations and other sources shows a much clearer trend than the membership revenue: It's been rising steadily. If membership is indeed flattening out, the NRA appears to be making up for it by taking in money from elsewhere.
(The group did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.)

One final point in support of the notion that membership numbers are flat: The NRA has been publicizing the same membership figure for nearly five years now. Several months after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, for instance, Wayne LaPierre boasted that membership had surpassed 5 million individuals. "By the time we're finished," he told members at the group's annual meeting in 2013, "the NRA must and will be 10 million strong."

But as of February, the group's "About the NRA" page states it has "nearly" 5 million members. The road to "10 million strong" is evidently turning out to be a long one.






kcar

kcar Avatar



Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 2:34pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
kcar wrote:
For someone who apparently hasn't even bothered to read the news articles and the AG's press release, you sure do have a lot to say.

Again, if you'd read the news about the NRA, you'd realize the organization is in considerable financial as well as legal trouble.

If James's case had no merit, she'd be shredded in court and her reputation destroyed. The state's investigation into the NRA has been going on for eighteen months. New York AG's office has extensive evidence of corruption, malfeasance as well as failure to carry out proper board governance duties and accurate annual accounting.

I invite you to read more and speculate less.

You need to distinguish between reading an article and believing every word of it uncritically. The NYAG claiming that 'the four top executives "have basically destroyed all the assets of the NRA..."' is particularly laughable. Really, all of them? Including massive facilities like the Whittington Center and the headquarters in Fairfax, the revenue streams from training and event sanctioning, its millions of dues-paying members, all gone? Please. The NRA has massively deep pockets, something its executives have been using to line their own, but the amounts they have been accused of misappropriating don't come close to putting the organization out of business.

The latest Form 990 I could find for NRA is from 2018. That year they posted a loss of $2.7M on revenue of $352.5M. This is not "considerable financial trouble", that's a deficit of .8%. I'm sure the NYAG would like NRA to be in considerable financial trouble, and the legal costs of fighting for its life could do that, but that would be the result of this lawsuit, not mismanagement within NRA—egregious as that is.
 

I guess I have more faith in the dedication of the NY AG's office, NPR, the Washington Post to provide fair and accurate investigation of the NRA than you do.  Whether the four accused executives "have basically destroyed all the assets of the NRA" is a side-issue and irrelevant to your implication that the NY AG's office investigated the NRA out of a politically motivated attempt to hobble the Association from trying to help Trump get re-elected.

If the NY AG went after the NRA out 0f purely political motives and started with no evidence of wrong-doing, it would have backfired on the AG spectacularly. Support for the NRA from the GOP and right-wing groups would have skyrocketed and enabled them to launch massive lobbying efforts for the Association and Trump.

The three sources I've cited present overwhelming evidence of corruption, illegal activity and failure of fiduciary and accounting oversight. That is why the NY AG's office investigated the NRA. The NRA was blatantly breaking the law and had been doing so for decades. AFAICT the costs of defending the Association against the AG's actions and the Association's own counter-suit would be a drop in the bucket compared to the NRA money lost to corruption, prior legal fees, etc.

Go read the NY AG's press release to read the laundry list of salaries, benefits, payoffs and illegal deceptive practices  that the Gang of Four arranged for themselves.

The corruption and law-breaking at the NRA went far beyond that feather-nesting, though:

From the NY AG's press release:



The NRA’s internal policies were repeatedly not followed and were even blatantly ignored by senior leaders. Furthermore, the NRA board’s audit committee was negligent in its duty to ensure appropriate, competent, and judicious stewardship of assets by NRA leadership. Specifically, the committee failed to assure standard fiscal controls, failed to respond
adequately to whistleblowers, affirmatively took steps to conceal the nature and scope of whistleblower concerns from external auditors, and failed to review potential conflicts of interest for employees.


...

The lawsuit alleges that the four men instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent. They overrode and evaded internal controls
to allow themselves, their families, favored board members, employees, and vendors to benefit through reimbursed expenses, related party transactions, excess compensation, side deals, and waste of charitable assets without regard to the NRA’s best interests.

When board members challenged LaPierre and others over their financial governance and leadership of the NRA, LaPierre retaliated and turned the board against those who attempted to challenge the illegal behavior.

...


Ackerman McQueen – NRA’s Public Relations and Advertising Firm


A practice decades-old between LaPierre and Ackerman McQueen’s co-founder — that would continue until the two companies severed ties in 2019 — ensured that Ackerman McQueen would pay for a variety of non-contractual, out-of-pocket expenses for LaPierre and other NRA executives and pass those expenses through to the NRA.
The NRA
leadership regularly used this pass-through arrangement — where expenses would be paid for by the NRA without written approvals, receipts, or supporting business purpose documentation — to conceal private travel and other costs that were largely personal in nature. Ackerman McQueen would aggregate the expenses into a lump sum amount and provide no details on the nature or purpose of the expenses when billing the NRA for them. The invoices only typically included a one-line description that read “out-of-pocket expenses” and included an invoice total amount. The expenses billed to the NRA for out-of-pocket expenses did not comply with IRS requirements, and, as a result, all such expenses should have been included by the NRA in taxable personal income for LaPierre and other recipients.

Ackerman McQueen was paid more than $70 million in just 2017 and 2018 for “public relations and advertising” services and for “out-of-pocket expenditures” that really went to entertainment and travel incurred by NRA executives and associates without scrutiny from within the organization, including millions for private planes, luxury hotels, memberships to private clubs, special events, fancy meals, and even personal hair and makeup services for LaPierre’s wife.





NRA Audit Committee’s Failure to Audit


Under New York law, the NRA’s audit committee is responsible for overseeing the accounting and financial reporting processes of the organization and the audit of its financial statements, but the culture of noncompliance and disregard for the internal controls is evident within the audit committee. The committee failed to serve as an independent check on LaPierre, his senior staff, and the NRA as a whole, and basically served as a rubber stamp for the organization’s illicit behavior, when it did review finances.


...


The audit committee’s chair testified during a deposition with the OAG that he had no knowledge of New York law governing audit committees, whistleblowers, or conflicts of interest, and that he could not recall the last time he had seen the audit committee charter that specifically states the audit committee “overs the integrity of financial information” at the NRA. In fact, the committee chair testified that, in his view and contrary to the charter, the audit committee had no role in oversight of internal controls and that “there is no internal auditing” within the NRA and there hadn’t been one in the whole 19 years he served on the NRA board.

As for the IRS filing you point to, I wouldn't rely too heavily on that because the NY AG accuses the NRA of repeatedly making false reports to the IRS. Again from the NY AG press release: 

Extensive Violations of Fundamental Not-for-Profit Law

Attorney General James alleges in her complaint that the NRA violated multiple laws, including the laws governing the NRA’s charitable status, false reporting on annual filings with the IRS and with the OAG’s Charities Bureau, improper expense documentation, improper wage reporting, improper income tax withholding, failure to make required excise tax reporting and payments, payments in excess of reasonable compensation to disqualified persons, and waste of NRA assets; in direct violation of New York’s Estates, Powers & Trusts Laws; New York’s Not-for-Profit Corporation Law; the New York Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act; and New York’s Executive Law. The illegal nature of the four individual defendants’ action also violated multiple rules of the NRA’s bylaws, the NRA’s employee handbook, and the NRA’s policy manual.

The failure of the NRA to comply with multiple fiduciary responsibilities and state and federal laws resulted in the NRA seeing substantial losses on its balance sheet: going from a surplus of $27,802,714 in 2015 to a net deficit of $36,276,779 in 2018 — contributing to a total loss of more than $64 million in just three years.










Proclivities

Proclivities Avatar

Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 2:26pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
Proclivities wrote:
Here is a press release from the NYAG's office (not that many people will want to read through it) .   Apparently, "failing to fulfill fiduciary duties" (for one) is a civil matter.
Statement from AG James: â€œIt’s an ongoing investigation,” she said. “If we uncover any criminal activity, we will refer it to the Manhattan district attorney. At this point in time we’re moving forward, again, with civil enforcement.”

From said release:
“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek  to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

Fraud, even in New York, is a crime punishable by 1-1/3 to 4 years probation.
 

Yeah, I wasn't advocating that AG's decision I just figured that release added a little more "official" explanation, thought it doesn't clarify things much, especially as to your previous question.
Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 2:15pm

Proclivities wrote:
Here is a press release from the NYAG's office (not that many people will want to read through it) .   Apparently, "failing to fulfill fiduciary duties" (for one) is a civil matter.
Statement from AG James: â€œIt’s an ongoing investigation,” she said. “If we uncover any criminal activity, we will refer it to the Manhattan district attorney. At this point in time we’re moving forward, again, with civil enforcement.”

From said release:
“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek  to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

Fraud, even in New York, is a crime punishable by 1-1/3 to 4 years probation.
R_P

R_P Avatar



Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 1:12pm

All told, Hughes discovered that Phillips had embezzled at least a million dollars from the firm.

Phillips was quietly fired, and no charges were brought against him. According to Hughes, the firm, fearing that it would lose customers, chose to keep the matter quiet. (...)

For years, it troubled Hughes that Phillips got away with stealing money, particularly because he had then gone on to a long and lucrative career at the National Rifle Association, where he served as the chief financial officer and treasurer for twenty-six years.

rgio

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Location: West Jersey
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:43pm



 steeler wrote:


 Lazy8 wrote:
steeler wrote:
Taxpayers. A government that otherwise might be owed taxes.

That would normally be in the jurisdiction of the IRS or state tax agency, not the AG, but that won't get the NYAG any headlines.
 

I do not know the motivation of the NY AG. Nor do I know the specifics of N.Y. laws regarding nonprofits.

I do know that a nonprofit can abuse its nonprofit status and that excessive expenditures and salaries can be evidence of that.
 
Non-profit status is a determination by the State.  Tax-exempt status is an IRS / State Tax Authority issue that is normally approved for NFP entities. Keep in mind that many states offer exemptions for other taxes beyond just income taxes for NFP status (sales tax, real estate taxes, etc.).

For example....a church would be NFP and tax-exempt.    For anyone who thinks the NRA spends money, they are rank amateurs compared to many "churches".    Anyone can start a church, and the church can own assets, investments, and pay large salaries....they just can't allocate profits to owners.  Yes....it's abused all the time.

If you ever wanted to save some money on taxes, Reverend John Oliver gives a class in setting up a church

Proclivities

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Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:42pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
steeler wrote:
I do not know the motivation of the NY AG. Nor do I know the specifics of N.Y. laws regarding nonprofits.

I do know that a nonprofit can abuse its nonprofit status and that excessive expenditures and salaries can be evidence of that.

Sounds like a criminal matter. She should file charges—against the individuals she thinks violated the law.
 
Here is a press release from the NYAG's office (not that many people will want to read through it) .   Apparently, "failing to fulfill fiduciary duties" (for one) is a civil matter.
Statement from AG James: â€œIt’s an ongoing investigation,” she said. “If we uncover any criminal activity, we will refer it to the Manhattan district attorney. At this point in time we’re moving forward, again, with civil enforcement.”
steeler

steeler Avatar

Location: Perched on the precipice of the cauldron of truth


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:40pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
steeler wrote:
I do not know the motivation of the NY AG. Nor do I know the specifics of N.Y. laws regarding nonprofits.

I do know that a nonprofit can abuse its nonprofit status and that excessive expenditures and salaries can be evidence of that.

Sounds like a criminal matter. She should file charges—against the individuals she thinks violated the law.
 
There is a reason that an organization can lose its nonprofit status. I am not saying that necessarily should be the remedy here, but there are instances when it might be warranted. 



westslope

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Location: BC sage brush steppe


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:37pm

Lazy8 et al, a question.

Do you support elections for the position state attorney general?   

I ask, because every now and then it seems that some state attorney general is grandstanding in ways I do not observe in Canada or elsewhere.
Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:33pm

steeler wrote:
I do not know the motivation of the NY AG. Nor do I know the specifics of N.Y. laws regarding nonprofits.

I do know that a nonprofit can abuse its nonprofit status and that excessive expenditures and salaries can be evidence of that.

Sounds like a criminal matter. She should file charges—against the individuals she thinks violated the law.
steeler

steeler Avatar

Location: Perched on the precipice of the cauldron of truth


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:29pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
steeler wrote:
Taxpayers. A government that otherwise might be owed taxes.

That would normally be in the jurisdiction of the IRS or state tax agency, not the AG, but that won't get the NYAG any headlines.
 

I do not know the motivation of the NY AG. Nor do I know the specifics of N.Y. laws regarding nonprofits.

I do know that a nonprofit can abuse its nonprofit status and that excessive expenditures and salaries can be evidence of that.
Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:19pm

steeler wrote:
Taxpayers. A government that otherwise might be owed taxes.

That would normally be in the jurisdiction of the IRS or state tax agency, not the AG, but that won't get the NYAG any headlines.
steeler

steeler Avatar

Location: Perched on the precipice of the cauldron of truth


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 12:12pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
steeler wrote:
Abuse of nonprofit status is at issue. That impacts more than donors to and members of the NRA.

Like who?

Besides the NRA's political enemies, that is.
 
Taxpayers. A government that otherwise might be owed taxes. 

sirdroseph

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Location: Yes
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 7, 2020 - 8:53am

 Lazy8 wrote:
sirdroseph wrote:
NRA has outlived its usefulness anyway, due to a bunch of unforeseen circumstances gun control is no longer an issue.   Kinda ironic, they may be imploding just as they have won the war.  Black people are strapping AKs in the street yo, that's a wrap.   You gonna try to take them away from them or should we get the police to?  Time to move on.  Probably should go ahead and delete the gun control thread.

The NRA's usefulness isn't just about politics.

My local shooting range is run by an NRA affiliate club. That means they derive their nonprofit status from affiliation and get their insurance thru NRA. If NRA is dissolved they are on their own for that, as are an awful lot of facilities. This could put a lot of them out of business.

NRA sanctions and hosts a lot of shooting competitions and trains a lot of shooters, instructors, range safety officers, gunsmiths, and event organizers. It has some competition for the politics part (Gun Owners of America, 2nd Amendment Foundation, and a few others) but there really isn't anybody else to take over the other things they do.
 
{#Cheers}
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