A logo in the NRA booth at the 2024 Great American Outdoor Show
A logo in the NRA booth at the 2024 Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Little Has Changed as NRA Heads into First Meeting Since Corruption Verdict

The National Rifle Association has been moving forward with business as usual since a jury found the group and its leadership responsible for corruption in February. That could change as it opens its Annual Meeting on Friday in Dallas, Texas.

The NRA has enacted few, if any, reforms or leadership changes in the wake of a New York jury deciding it failed to safeguard its charitable asserts, retaliated against whistleblowers, and its former CEO and Treasurer were liable for millions of dollars in damages. While longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre announced his resignation shortly before the trial and the jury finding against him, the NRA has continued to promote his involvement with the group by prominently featuring LaPierre in its ad for the Annual Meeting. LaPierre’s closest allies, such as interim CEO Andrew Arrulanandam and President Charles Cotton, have also retained control of the NRA’s daily operations.

A challenge to current leadership’s control is brewing, though. NRA members elected a slate of reform candidates in the group’s most recent board elections. Those reformers want to implement a series of changes, including showing current leadership the door.

The outcome of the weekend meeting could significantly impact the future of the nation’s largest gun-rights group. Continuing along the current trajectory, which has already resulted in a membership exodus and persistent legal troubles, could eventually doom the group. Reform could impact that spiral, but it remains an uphill battle given that internal critics still only make up a small percentage of the overall board of directors.

The group’s financial sliding has remained a problem since the New York verdict. Despite dominating the political spending race in most previous elections, the NRA lags behind its counterparts in the gun-control movement.

Some of the more controversial habits of NRA leadership have also continued. Cotton, who multiple sources told The Reload is the frontrunner to become permanent CEO, has also flown private on NRA business. That practice created most of the problems LaPierre faced.

However, the group has managed to maintain its political influence with former president Donald Trump. He is using one of the days off from his own New York trial to give a speech to NRA members at the meeting on Saturday. It will be the second time he’s headlined an NRA event this year. His attendance could boost turnout at the Annual Meeting, which has slumped in recent years, and boost the revenue from ticket sales.

The NRA did not respond to questions about why it hasn’t changed course since the jury handed down its decision, but it has previously emphasized it centered its defense on the upcoming second phase of the trial.

“[T]he NYAG’s case focused on the past and the NRA lives in the present,” Bill Brewer, the group’s outside counsel, said in a statement after the verdict. “It was the NRA that ultimately established the record being pursued by the NYAG. Our client looks forward to phase two of these proceedings – emboldened by its record of good governance.”

The second phase of the trial will begin in July. If the judge overseeing the case determines the issues identified by the jury are severe enough or likely to reoccur, he could appoint one or more overseers. The Annual Meeting might represent the last opportunity for the group to change course on its own before a judge decides if it should be forced to do so.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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