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News and notes on guns in America

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[Bloomberg / Contributor]

Three NRA Board Members Resign, Saying Confidence in Leadership Is ‘Shattered’

Three reform-minded National Rifle Association board members have resigned from the organization less than two weeks after publicly calling for an outside investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement at the gun group.

Timothy Knight, Esther Schneider, and Sean Maloney said in an August 1 letter addressed to NRA leadership that they had been “rebuffed at every turn” when they tried to exercise their fiduciary duties to oversee the organization’s finances. An April investigation by The Trace and The New Yorker exposed how the organization’s leadership and preferred vendors had extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget.

Earlier this summer, these three NRA board members said they were removed from committees after voicing concerns about those alleged financial improprieties by CEO Wayne LaPierre and other organization executives.

“We had expected — or at least hoped — that the executive leadership team would recognize the seriousness of these allegations and work with us in a constructive and transparent manner to address our concerns and minimize any further harm to the Association,” the three wrote in their letter. “Instead, we have been stonewalled, accused of disloyalty, stripped of committee assignments and denied effective counsel necessary to properly discharge our responsibilities as Board members.”

The three board members joined with fellow board member retired Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown to sign a July 22 letter in which they demanded an independent investigation and audit of the NRA, as well as a review of the gun group’s outside counsel, William A. Brewer III, who began representing the organization in April 2018. The Trace co-published a story earlier this week with ProPublica and The New Yorker about evidence that Brewer had previously tried to stymie internal financial probes and efforts to scrutinize his legal fees, which amounted to $24 million over the course of a year.

In an email to The Trace, Schneider said she and the other two board members had hired the law firm Baker Botts at their own expense to advise them on how to conduct compliance investigations. Knight and Maloney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other people pushing to reform the NRA saw Thursday’s resignations as a sign that the board will not provide oversight on its own. As The Trace reported in July, the board’s structure and unusually large size — there are 76 members — makes it very difficult for members to hold top executives and officers accountable.

Ron Carter, the vice president of a nonprofit aimed at reforming the NRA called Save The Second, wrote about the letter in a blog post, “We hope that this serves as another wake up call to ALL NRA Members: this isn’t a case of rats jumping off the burning ship; it is a case of a few with integrity realizing that they can better serve the Members from OUTSIDE the Board.”