David Keene

David Keene (Former President & Current Board Member)

David Keene - Former NRA President - NRA Board Member
Former President of National Rifle Association, former Chairman of the American Conservative Union, Managing Associate at Carmen Group Lobbying

The son of two Wisconsin labor union organizers, David Keene has been active in national politics since 1968, and has worked for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and Senator James L. Buckley. Keene served as Chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU) from 1984 until 2011. The ACU organizes the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a gathering of conservative organizations that is frequently co-sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Friends have nicknamed Keene “Baby Doc David Keene,” comparing his ability as a conservative power broker to Jean-Claude Duvalier’s iron-fisted rule of Haiti. High-profile lobbyist Craig Shirley has said of Keene, “In all those years that I’ve known him, there was never an important conservative meeting which he was not part of.” Fellow NRA Board Member Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, has called Keene “a conservative Forrest Gump. He has been in the center of all things conservative for decades.” Keene serves as a Managing Associate at Carmen Group Lobbying, a firm that routinely collects over $10 million a year in lobbying fees. After becoming NRA President in May 2011, Keene stated that the organization’s “major goal is to defeat [President Barack] Obama [in the 2012 presidential election].”

Photograph by Gage Skidmore

Controversial Actions and Statements

Controversial Actions and Statements:

David Keene (Former President & Current Board Member)

In July 2013, Keene was appointed as the opinion editor of the Washington Times. Keene served as President of the NRA from May 2011 to May 2013 and continues to serve as a board member of the organization. Since joining the Times, Keene has endorsed several Republican senators for reelection, either on his own behalf or on behalf of the National Rifle Association. Keene’s appointment has drawn criticism from journalism professionals, such as Kevin Smith, chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists and Kelly McBride, ethics instructor at the Poynter Institute. Smith asked in an email, “My question to Mr. Keene and the Times is a simple one—who do you serve? Do you serve the NRA and its constituents or do you serve the readers of the Times? It's straightforward. Because if you believe your professional and ethical obligation is to promote the agenda of the NRA, then you have no business as an editorial page editor because you are a spokesperson passing yourself off as a journalist.” McBride stated that, “even if [Keene] recuses himself [from editing any pieces in his department that are focused on the NRA], he can still have a significant influence on the editorial board.”

David Keene (Board Member)

On February 20, 2013, Keene spoke at Harvard University about gun violence prevention legislation which had been proposed in the wake of a mass shooting on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed. When asked what kinds of weapons he thought should be illegal, Keene responded, “fully automatic weapons.” The NRA has not always supported tough regulations on fully automatic weapons. In 1986, an amendment banning the manufacture of new fully automatic machine guns for civilian sale was added to the NRA-drafted “Firearm Owner’s Protection Act” (more commonly known as “McClure-Volkmer,” for its Senate and House sponsors, Jim McClure and Howard Volkmer). Wayne LaPierre, then the head of the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), announced, "Repealing the machine gun ban amendment tacked on to the McClure-Volkmer bill will be a high priority." James Jay Baker, then the NRA Governmental Affairs Director, promised that legislation had been drafted to repeal the amendment and was "expected to be introduced this session." Keene also joked that he’s stopped saying the NRA’s approval rating is higher than that of Congress since, “We could be serial rapists and have a higher favorable rating than Congress.”

David Keene (Board Member)

In a February 2, 2013 interview with the Daily Caller, Keene stated, “You know, when you go back in our history…the initial wave of [gun violence prevention laws] was instituted after the Civil War to deny blacks the ability to defend themselves.” According to a Pew Research Center Poll, conducted in December 2012, an overwhelming majority of African Americans, 68%, said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect the right to own guns

Race

David Keene (Board Member)

In a January 14, 2013 interview with Lou Dobbs on Fox News, Keene spoke about President Barack Obama’s upcoming recommendations on gun violence prevention, scheduled to be revealed at a press conference on January 16, 2013. Keene stated, “What Newton gave [the Obama administration] was an excuse to do what they’ve wanted to do for some time, which is to launch a full-breadth attack on the Second Amendment and that’s what they’re doing regardless of what the President claims.” Keene was referring to a mass shooting on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed.

Conspiracy Theory |

David Keene (Board Member)

In a December 23, 2012 interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Keene spoke with host Bob Schieffer about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in which 20 first-grade students and six adults were shot and killed. He stated, “The question on everybody's minds that we were trying to address is what do you do to prevent this from happening in the future? You know, it was interesting, Bob, because…that week I was in Israel. And they had a spate of school shootings in the 70s and on, and then they decided that they needed to have security at their schools. They started out with volunteers. They eventually institutionalized it and now they have armed security at the schools, and they've stopped the problem.” In fact, Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said following the Newtown tragedy that the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different.” He added, “We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States. We had to deal with terrorism. What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years.” Reuven Berko, a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer explained that, in recent years, restrictions on gun ownership have been tightened, stating, “Israeli citizens are not allowed to carry guns unless they are serving in the army or working in security-related jobs that require them to use a weapon.” Keene also spoke about background checks for firearms purchases, stating, “We have for, since the late 1960s, have been urging that those people who were adjudicated to be mentally ill be included in the national database. When you buy a gun, Bob, you go to the store and there's an instant check. Twenty-three states have not put any of that data in there, in many cases … When you go to buy a gun, you have to fill out a whole form. You're checked with the FBI and others through the instant check system. And then what the law is, that after a period of time, they can't maintain that [in] a federal gun registry. But they check you when you purchase that firearm, and they should.” In fact, current federal law requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers. These sales account for just 60% of all gun sales in the United States. A loophole in the law allows individuals not “engaged in the business” of selling firearms to sell guns without a license—and without conducting background checks.

David Keene (Board Member)

On October 4, 2012, in a speech at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event in Colorado, Keene spoke about the 2012 presidential election, stating, “This is indeed an important election, a crucial election. We’ve said at the NRA that it may well be the most important election of our lifetime … There are…many reasons this President [Barack Obama] needs to be retired. There are many reasons why it’s so important that we elect conservatives to the Congress and the Senate this year … There’s the willingness of this administration, in unprecedented ways, to flout the laws and, indeed, the constitution of this country … If this president is reelected, he will have the opportunity to appoint one, two, maybe three justices of the United States Supreme Court. What will happen to the [District of Columbia v.] Heller decision, which ratifies the constitutional right of Americans as individuals to keep and bear, arms if he does that? It will vanish. What will happen to that decision and other decisions guaranteeing our rights, not just on Second Amendment grounds, but think recently of the attacks on the First Amendment by this administration? … Much of what our forbears fought for, much of what we inherited, many of the values that we share will vanish … Let’s face it, this is not about guns. It’s about freedom. The Second Amendment is crucial to the nature of this society … Americans know that it’s not just about guns, it’s about values. It’s about an America that the elites today wish was passé … It’s up to us to defend those values and defend those rights … We’ve got a strong ticket [in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romeny and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan] … We’ve got believers in our values.” Keene offered no examples of ways in which President Obama has restricted First Amendment free speech. Keene also referred to the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to firearm ownership for self defense in the home; striking down D.C.’s handgun ban.

Republican Party (GOP) | Freedom of Speech

David Keene (Board Member)

In an October 4, 2012 interview with NRA News, Keene spoke about the administration of President Barack Obama, stating, “This is an administration that on many fronts and over many issues has committed many sins. Perhaps the worst, in a general sense, is their willingness to flaunt the law and the Constitution. You see it in little ways and in big ways. This is an administration where, if you don’t agree with them, if you don’t like President [Obama]’s position, then your rights are suspect anyway. They’re now doing it on the First Amendment, for Lord’s sake. They view the First Amendment and the Second Amendment in [the] very same way. These aren’t rights. These are privileges granted by government that can be restricted or taken away by government. So, now in the area of free speech, maybe you should only be free to say things that the Obama Administration agrees with or that our enemies agree with or that don’t offend anyone … This is perhaps the most institutionally dangerous tenancy that we’ve seen on the part of the administration—its willingness to flaunt the Constitution, ignore the law and then govern unilaterally through executive order and harassment of people they don’t like without any reference to what they should be doing in their proper role within a federal structure … This election is the most important of our lifetime because if this man is given four more years in the White House, he will do frontally what he’s been trying to do behind the scenes. Without the fear of having to face an electorate again, Barack Obama will come after the Second Amendment in many ways. There will be, if he’s reelected, a small arms treaty signed at the United Nations. He will have the opportunity to appoint one, two, three justices of the Supreme Court. Lord knows how many lower court judges. Combined, they can either restrict the [District of Columbia v.]Heller and McDonald [v. Chicago] decisions in such a way that they become meaningless or they can outright reverse them at the Supreme Court level. If that happens … America’s gun rights are at risk … If they have their way, those rights which you think are not only sacrosanct and which are sacrosanct, but which you think you’ll never lose could indeed be lost.” Keene offered no examples of ways in which President Obama is restricting freedom of speech. Keene also referred to a U.N. Small Arms Treaty which would set only international standards for the import/export of conventional weapons—leaving it to individual countries to “regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership.” Furthermore, such a treaty would require approval by two thirds of the U.S. Senate. Finally, Keene referred to the Heller and McDonald decisions. The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, held for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to firearm ownership for self defense in the home; striking down D.C.’s handgun ban. In McDonald v. Chicago, the Court held that the Second Amendment, as interpreted in Heller, applied to the states through the Due Process Clause.

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) | Freedom of Speech

David Keene (Board Member)

On October 3, 2012, Keene made a stop in Great Falls, Montana to endorse Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill. Keene also stated, "If [President Barack Obama]’s reelected, the next time the UN considers a Small Arms Treaty, he will sign it.” The President’s goal is clear, he added: “To restrict and contract the number of people who engage in shooting sports that own firearms looking forward to the day when none of us have that right.” Keene was referring to a U.N. Small Arms Treaty which would set only international standards for the import/export of conventional weapons—leaving it to individual countries to “regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership.” Furthermore, such a treaty would require approval by two thirds of the U.S. Senate.

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In the September 2012 issue of America’s 1st Freedom, Keene wrote, “Governor Mitt Romney is the Republican Party’s presidential nominee and the one man capable of denying President Barack Obama another four years in the White House … Gun owners in Massachusetts fared well under Romney … During his speech at NRA’s 2012 Annual Meetings, Romney, an NRA Life Member, championed the U.S. Constitution. Romney commended the NRA for calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder, who continued to be defiant before Congress’ demand for answers in the so-called ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal … The choice is clear: if President Obama wins a second term in November, he will go after America’s gun owners, our freedoms and the values we cherish.” Keene was referring to the discontinued “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking investigation on the southwest border and Attorney General Eric Holder’s failure to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to the operation. A report released by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General on September 19, 2012 found that there is no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder was aware of the tactics used in the investigation until after it was concluded in 2011.

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In an August 29, 2012 interview with the Washington Examiner, Keene stated, “[The NRA] sees [President Barack Obama] as the most anti-gun president in modern times … We're fearful of a second Obama administration. That's why for the last year we've been saying that the prime political goal of the National Rifle Association, this year, is to replace Barack Obama in the White House.” Keene admitted that “[Obama] has not accomplished very much in terms of his anti-gun agenda,” but chalked that up to Republican opposition in Congress. In the wake of mass shootings in Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin and New York in 2011-2012, President Obama did not call for new gun violence prevention legislation. White House spokesman Jay Carney stated in an August 7, 2012 press briefing, “The President believes we have a violence challenge in this country, a violence problem that we need to address and come at from a variety of fronts, because it is not a problem that is just related to gun laws.”

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In an August 27, 2012 interview with NRA News, Keene stated, “Don’t hesitate for a moment to realize that if [President Barack Obama] gets a second term, if he appoints people to the [U.S.] Supreme Court and to the lower courts, and if he has a chance by regulation and executive order or an opportunity to go back to the U.N. to get the gun treaty…he’ll do all these things and we’ll suffer." When asked what he thought of Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, Keene replied, “Maybe nobody else will have him … This guy is a joke … I think [the convention] is very important because of what’s at stake. The fact is, that this is probably the most important election of our lifetime. It’s certainly true for believers in the Second Amendment and that makes this convention incredibly important because of the stakes.” Keene was referring to a U.N. Small Arms Treaty which would set only international standards for the import/export of conventional weapons—leaving it to individual countries to “regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership.”

Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In the August 2012 issue of America’s 1st Freedom, Keene wrote, “The hostility of most leftists in regard to the very notion that their fellow citizens might have a right to own firearms or to engage in the shooting sports is difficult for many of us to understand, until we realize it’s not just about guns. It’s about freedom and traditional American values … What they really object to goes far beyond firearm our ownership of firearms. They believe the traditional American individualist values that drove the nation’s founders to limit the power of government and protect our right to defend ourselves must give way to a new set of values that cedes governance to the state. In a very real sense, their hostility to firearms and the Second Amendment isn’t about guns or violence or crime; it’s about values. They see those who adhere to the values of the founders as a continuing threat to the new world they dream of creating.”

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

On June 8, 2012, Keene spoke at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event in Chicago on a panel entitled “President Obama’s Fast and Furious Disregard for the Rule of Law.” Keene stated, “The Obama administration has played loose with the rule of law since this president’s first day in office. Sadly, he and his principal advisors seem to me to come from a generation that sincerely believes that the ends in almost all circumstances justify the means. Thus they enforce laws that further their goals, they ignore those that do not. They interpret the laws and the Constitution itself in light of what they want them to say rather than either the intent of Congress or the words of the Founders. And when anyone, including the Supreme Court itself, disagrees, they go on the attack.” He added, “It goes far beyond gun questions. Consider their current assault on the various states’ attempts to protect the integrity of the democratic process itself. I think we’ll have some discussion of what’s going on in Florida right now where the Justice Department, without any basis that most experts can see, are trying to stop the state of Florida from purging non-citizens and the dead and others from their voting rolls prior to the next election on the ground that it’s unfair, I guess, to the dead and the non-eligible voters.” One week prior to Keene’s remarks, 67 Florida election supervisors stated they were going to stop removing names from county rolls because the state's data is flawed—and because the U.S. Department of Justice says the process violates federal voting laws.

Keene also criticized the administration's support for the "DISCLOSE Act," observing, "Consider the president's personal disdain for the democratic process. While spending more than any of his predecessors on fundraising and bragging that he's going to have a billion dollars in the upcoming campaign to bury his opponents, he publicly attacks his opponents because they spend money to get their message out to the public." The DISCLOSE Act would ban U.S. corporations controlled by foreign governments from influencing election outcomes through the use of campaign contributions; prevent Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipients from making political contributions; give shareholders, organization members, and the general public access to information regarding corporate and interest group campaign expenditures; and create transparency mechanisms for organizations with more than 500,000 members to publicly identify themselves in their political ads. The NRA has publicly opposed the “DISCLOSE Act.”

At a second panel, entitled “Defending Self-Defense: The Liberal’s Shadow War on the Second Amendment.” Keene stated, “In 1968, the Johnson administration forced through what was known as the ‘Gun Control Act of 1968,’ a bill that Senator Edward Kennedy said was a good first step toward eliminating firearms in the United States. Richard Nixon’s attorney general, two years later, proposed a plan that would have eliminated the private ownership of handguns by 1983.” The Gun Control Act of 1968 was, in fact, the product of a compromise between the bill’s sponsors—including Senator Thomas Dodd—and the NRA, who supported the final version of the legislation. The Gun Control Act created a list of individuals prohibited from purchasing weapons; including, felons, drug abusers, and individuals adjudicated mentally defective. The law did not ban any firearms. In addition, Elliot Richardson, Nixon’s attorney general, never publicly proposed a plan to eliminate private handgun ownership. Keene added, “When it was decided that this new challenge faced us, the old board decided they wanted to move the organization to the Midwest and make it into a conservation group because they thought that politics was tacky… By 2000, the NRA’s influence was such that Bill Clinton would say that gun owners cost Al Gore the electoral vote of five states and the presidency of the United States and in a overt sense, at least, most Liberal politicians decided it was time to take guns off the table and do what Barack Obama is trying to do, which is to say, as he promised Sarah Brady, to proceed to deliver on his anti-gun promises, but to do so under the radar if possible because the electorate is not exactly friendly.”

Keene also spoke about the 2012 Wisconsin recall election of Governor Scott Walker, stating, “The NRA spent a lot of effort in Wisconsin targeting of different groups, but particularly targeting union members who are gun owners and hunters and in the recall election earlier this week I believe that Scott Walker in facing a recall generated by union bosses received more labor votes than he had when he ran for election in the first instance.”

Finally, Keene told the following story, “I was elected to the presidency of the National Rifle Association at our annual meeting in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, and there was in attendance a member of the Supreme Court in the state of Pennsylvania who asked if I could stop in Harrisburg on my way home because he wanted to show me the Supreme Court chambers… He said the court would be in session, but I should stop and they would take me to the justices’ lounge and then they’d call a recess so they could take me on this tour. And I went there and they did indeed did call a recess and the justices came out and then the justice who’d invited me said, ‘Gentlemen, disrobe.’ And they opened their robes and five of them were carrying firearms, which is different from Illinois. And I said I understand that contempt of this court is a very serious offense.”

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) | Campaign Finance | Labor | Political Violence | Voting Rights

David Keene (Board Member)

In a May 16, 2012 interview with NRA News, Keene discussed his May 15, 2012 editorial in the Washington Times in which he accused the administration of President Barack Obama of “calling out, investigating and doing their level best to demonize major Romney contributors.” Keene told hosts Cameron Gray and John Popp, “The Kennedys realized that, even then, as mean as they could be, that you couldn’t as president, or speaking for the president, pick out individual citizens and attack them because you had more power to demonize and destroy a life than almost anybody in the country. And it’s clear that that’s what the Obama campaign is trying to do.” Keene further accused the Obama Administration of “trying to stifle dissent, trying to shut up those who disagree with it, and then to bully people.” Keene accused the mainstream media of being complicit, stating that it was “unforgivable [for the media to have] taken this case and gone after the contributor [Iowa businessman Frank Vandersloot] … Politico may be able to smear you, and they’ve smeared almost everyone we know at one point or another. They have not a high regard for the truth.”

Keene defended the practice of blocking access to the identity of political donors, saying, “It was decided that in the name of campaign reform that while you couldn’t limit people’s speech by denying them the right to speak, that perhaps disclosure was the lesser of all evils, that everybody should know who was paying for the speech and all of that and that was sort of generally considered the lesser of evils by all parties involved. But what’s happened is that this disclosure has been taken by people as a way of taking the lists and then trying to intimidate the people who get involved by demonizing them and preventing other people from getting involved.” Keene also defended “voter security” legislation, comparing it to President Obama publicizing the names of PAC donors. He observed, “If [voter security] is a violation of anybody’s civil rights, what is the president of the United States and his campaign doing about the civil rights of those people who don’t support him? He would use anything in his power to deprive those folks of their right to have a voice in the most important democratic process that goes on in this country.”

During the course of the interview, Keene also claimed that President Barack Obama “went after the Catholic Church,” a reference to a January 2012 Obama Administration announcement that the health care reform law requires employers to provide health insurance which covers contraception for women free of charge. President Obama subsequently rejected an exemption for religiously affiliated private employers. Keene portrayed the Obama administration as out of touch with average Americans, saying, “He and his buddies, all of whom sort of come from the same place if you will, they don’t hold jobs, they never held jobs in the private sector, they’ve been in colleges or think tanks. They sit around and talk with each other and none of ‘em disagree with anything.”

Finally, Keene spoke fondly of former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, who opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. Keene bragged to NRA News, “Jesse had a been a friend of mine since before he was elected to public office.”

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) | Race | Voting Rights | Women’s Rights

David Keene (Board Member)

In a May 15, 2012 editorial for the Washington Times, Keene accused President Barack Obama of having a plan to “crucify” political opponents. He made specific reference to an Obama campaign blog that sought to foster transparency about donors to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s political action committee (PAC). “By calling out, investigating and doing their level best to demonize major Romney contributors, [President Obama and his “managers”] clearly are hoping to make others pause before opening their checkbooks to the former Massachusetts governor,” Keene wrote. “These threats are aimed… at the hundreds and perhaps thousands of potential Romney contributors who will slink away lest they, too, become targets of the Obama attack machine.” The previous evening, Idaho businessman and Romney finance co-chair Frank Vandersloot, who was listed on the blog, had made an additional donation of $100,000 to Romney’s PAC on the “Bill O’Reilly Show.” “I think the only response is to make another donation,” Vandersloot noted.

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In the April 2012 issue of America’s 1st Freedom, Keene wrote about the 2012 presidential election, saying, “Everything we believe in is at risk this year.” He accused “[President Barack Obama] and his minions” of “operating under the radar right now,” warning, “If we don’t make every vote count this year, we are going to find ourselves targets of a government dedicated to stripping us of our rights. The future is in our hands and will be determined by what we do.”

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In the March 2012 issue of America’s 1st Freedom, Keene accused New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg of being a “gun-hating politician…willing to ignore the law, the Supreme Court and due process to harass those…who believe in the Right to Keep and Bear Arms or who engage in shooting sports.” Keene also complained that “an anti-gun jurisdiction ruled by someone like New York’s Michael Bloomberg can have a legal firearm owner transiting his fiefdom arrested.”

Conspiracy Theory |

David Keene (Board Member)

During the February 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Keene awarded Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Republican Attorney General, the “Defender of Freedom Award” on behalf of the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association. In his remarks, Keene described Cuccinelli as “a man who has never turned his back on his values, has never turned his back on his beliefs, and has never refused to stand up when principle demanded that he do so.” Cuccinelli thanked the NRA for the award, and remarked, “James Monroe voted against the U.S. Constitution because he didn’t think it was cautious enough with respect to federal power. Seems like he had a crystal ball, one might think. But that’s the role of states when the federal government oversteps its boundaries. And the worst example of course is the health care bill [The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act]…signed by the president on March 23, 2010. And about 34 minutes later, give or take, we filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia … We filed suit in the Eastern District of Virginia … Seventeen blocks to the east, 235 years to the day…Patrick Henry gave his ‘Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death’ speech … And that seemed very appropriate, given that that legislation represents one of the greatest legislative invasions of liberty in the lifetime of anyone in this room.” Turning to the topic of the environment, Cuccinelli said, “We sued the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]—which I have taken to calling the Employment Prevention Agency, because they are so good at that—for their greenhouse gas endangerment finding ... And when the EPA said that the CO2 that you are exhaling right now, let’s all annoy [EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson together [exhales loudly], ‘Hi, Lisa.’ When they passed that regulation in violation of the law they brought on enormous consequences … The only science behind that regulation is political science ... They relied on a U.N. associated scientist; we now know them as the ‘Climate-gate’ scientist.” He also added, “You all are familiar with the National Labor Relations Board’s assault on South Carolina and Boeing. Make no mistake about it, that is an assault on the right to work…the right to hold a job without being coerced into joining a union … We have never seen such an across the board assault on the rule of law by any administration in the lifetime of anyone in this room. It has never happened.”

Conspiracy Theory | Republican Party (GOP) | The Environment | Health Care | Labor

David Keene (Board Member)

During the February 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Keene was asked by a female veteran of Afghanistan why the National Rifle Association had lobbied for an amendment to the Department of Defense appropriations bill that prevents commanders from talking to suicidal service members about firearms they have in the home. Keene stated that service members "have to deal with their problems, not with the group of tools that they have ... If you have depression and depression creates a suicidal situation if you don't have a gun, you'll use something else. And there are a million ways to commit suicide." Keene's statement about methods of suicide is erroneous. According to research conducted at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, "A suicide attempt with a firearm rarely affords a second chance. Attempts involving drugs or cutting, which account for more than 90% of all suicidal acts, prove fatal far less often." In 2010, 175 military service members committed suicide used a firearm, which represented 62% of the total number of suicides.

Lobbying Activity | Health Care

David Keene (Board Member)

In the October 2011 issue of America’s 1st Freedom, Keene suggested that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents purposefully armed criminals during their botched “Fast and Furious” operation. “What [gun dealers] perhaps didn’t fully appreciate is that the [ATF] agents wanted [guns] in the wrong hands and were hoping they would later show up at crime scenes in Mexico to perhaps prove that many of the firearms used there were coming from this country,” Keene wrote.

Conspiracy Theory |

David Keene (Board Member)

In September 2011, Diana Hubbard Carr—David Keene’s ex-wife—was convicted of mail fraud and sentenced to a year in prison for her role in embezzling over $300,000 from the American Conservative Union (ACU). Keene chaired ACU during the period that the embezzlement occurred, before resigning in May 2011.

Political Corruption |

David Keene (Board Member)

In a September 2011 column for America’s 1st Freedom, Keene suggested that, “Gun control advocates from this country have joined literally hundreds of like-minded Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOS) to work with international anti-gun delegates to develop a treaty that could destroy private gun ownership in this country.” He also warned that “friends of the Second Amendment must be prepared to defend our rights against international as well as domestic enemies.”

Conspiracy Theory | Political Violence

David Keene (Board Member)

In a February 28, 2011 op-ed for The Hill, Keene compared Wisconsin public school teachers who opposed anti-union legislation to University of Wisconsin-Madison students who spent their “waking hours doing drugs, demonstrating, occupying campus buildings and dreaming of revolution” during the 1960s. Commenting on Wisconsin legislation that would largely eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees, Keene wrote, “[Republican Governor Scott] Walker is doing exactly what he said during his campaign would have to be done to save the Badger State from bankruptcy … That doesn’t make Walker an extremist, but a governor whose state books won’t balance because those who preceded him ignored those warnings and ultimately governed as if the ’60s would never end.”

Education | Labor

David Keene (Board Member)

Keene presented Roy Innis, the controversial director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), with the John M. Ashbrook Award at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference and said, “There is no living American I admire more than Roy Innis.” The award is named after one of the founders of the ACU who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 21 years as a Republican from Ohio. In his remarks, Innis warned of “a growing tyranny in our country” and said the candidates for the 2008 presidential election were “some of the most dangerous people to ever run for the presidency of the United States.” Speaking on the influence of CPAC, Innis said, “We have developed some skills. We are able to influence the Republican Party, and nudge it, and push it in certain directions. Let us teach those skills to our young brothers in the Tea Party.”

Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In June 2009, when FedEx and rival UPS were embroiled in a legislative dispute, ACU sent a letter to FedEx offering to go to bat for the company at the price of $1.39 per grassroots activist contacted ($2 to $3 million for the entire project). One of the services offered to FedEx was op-ed pieces written by Keene. In the letter to FedEx, ACU expressed support for FedEx’s attempt to kill a piece of legislation that would have allowed nearly 100,000 FedEx workers to unionize. After FedEx declined ACU’s offer, the organization switched sides and supported UPS’s position in the dispute. In a letter in support of UPS signed by Keene, he called FedEx’s allegations against UPS “a disinformation campaign...that should be stopped.” The letter was also signed by fellow NRA Board Member Grover Norquist. The reversal in ACU’s position was widely seen as representative of the “pay- to-play” nature of Washington politics.

Lobbying Activity | Labor

David Keene (Board Member)

In a June 1, 2009 op-ed for The Hill entitled “Injustice Against Whites,” Keene claimed that during the 2008 presidential election “three” New Black Panther Party “thugs, dressed in paramilitary garb, were caught on camera wielding nightsticks to intimidate white voters who they suspected might not be prepared to vote for their candidate.” In fact, the video referenced by Keene showed only two members of the New Black Panther Party, and they were not interacting with any voters. One of the men was holding a nightstick and was later removed by police. Police received no complaints from voters at the site.

Race

David Keene (Board Member)

Keene tried to free up speaking time for Dutch politician Geert Wilders at CPAC in February 2009. Wilders has openly talked about his hatred of Islam, said that a contemporary Muhammad would “be hunted down as a terrorist,” and called the Muslim prophet “the devil.” Wilders also believes that the Koran should be banned in the Netherlands. Contemporaneous with the CPAC controversy, Wilders was barred from entering the United Kingdom because of his inflammatory comments about Islam. Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of a July 2011 terrorist attack in Norway that left 77 dead, cited Wilders as an inspiration in his manifesto.

Religion

David Keene (Board Member)

On February 29, 2008, Keene registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as a lobbyist for the government of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Between 2006 and 2007, the Bayelsa government paid Carmen Group—the lobbying firm that employed Keene—over $900,000. The contract stipulated that lobbyists from Carmen were to “gain support for Bayelsa and the Niger Delta from the U.S. government.” The primary focus of Nigeria’s economy is the trade of oil, which account’s for 90% of the country’s exports. A February 2007 report by National Geographic stated, “Oil fouls everything in southern Nigeria [the Niger Delta]. It spills from the pipelines, poisoning soil and water. It stains the hands of politicians and generals, who siphon off its profits … The cruelest twist is that half a century of oil extraction in the delta has failed to make the lives of the people better. Instead, they are poorer still, and hopeless … Where does all the oil money go? That question is asked in every village, town, and city in the Niger Delta. The blame spreads, moving from the oil companies to a bigger, more elusive, target: the Nigerian government … On paper, a mechanism does exist for distributing oil revenues somewhat fairly. The federal government retains roughly half and gives out the rest each month, on a sliding scale, to the 36 state governments. The core oil producers—Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, and Akwa Ibom—receive the most.” The Nigerian government’s conduct towards oil profits has also been called, “the institutionalized looting of national wealth.” According to the Nigerian government, over 7,000 oil spills occurred in the region between 1970 and 2000 (although some analysts believe the true figure is ten times higher) resulting in an estimated spillage of 1.5 million tons of oil (50 times more than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster). Williams Mkpa, an Ibeno, Nigeria community leader lamented, “Oil companies do not value our life; they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable.” In a high profile incident in the 1990s, the Nigerian government executed a number of anti-oil activists that had protested against Shell’s incursion into their homeland, after convicting the men of murder in a sham trial.

Lobbying Activity | Repressive Regimes | The Environment

David Keene (Board Member)

Documents filed in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act on January 17, 2006 indicate that Keene managed a lobbying contract between the government of Algeria and the consulting firm, Carmen Group, where he was employed. Keene was tasked with projecting “an up-to-date image of Algeria, her government and her role in regional and world affairs,” while promoting “Congressional, non-governmental organizational, public and media support for Algeria’s legitimate interests and policy goals.” The lobbying contract also required Keene to facilitate “official and unofficial visits to Algeria for elected officials.” The government of Algeria paid Carmen Group $25,000 per month plus additional expenses for each month of lobbying work. In December 2010, Keene wrote a column for The Hill taking the side of the Algerian-based Polisario Front in that group’s conflict with the government of Morocco. In response, a column written by Robert M. Holley, executive director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy, stated, “The Dec. 7 commentary, ‘Our friends in the desert’ by David Keene, distorts the history and current realities of the Western Sahara conflict. It is also important to know that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mr. Keene and his consulting firm received tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees from Algeria, the Polisario Front’s ideological and financial supporter—a fact Mr. Keene fails to disclose. Mr. Keene seriously misrepresents the position of the United Nations on the Western Sahara conflict … As well, Mr. Keene egregiously mischaracterizes the position of the U.S. government in the Western Sahara conflict. The Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, and bipartisan majorities of the U.S. House and Senate, support a resolution of the conflict based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Furthermore, the author’s description of life in the Polisario-run refugee camps in Algeria is the writer’s fantasy. In the tightly controlled camps—where the refugees are denied the most basic freedoms—there is only one permitted political party, the Polisario Front. Its appointed ‘president’ for more than three decades hails from a dubious class of Cold War leaders including their continuing ally, Fidel Castro. Mr. Keene’s distortions dishonor the lives of the 11 Moroccan police officers savagely killed by violent, pro-Polisario militants who infiltrated what began as a peaceful social protest over economic issues near Laayoune [Algeria].” The Polisario refuge camps are not the only place that human rights violations are alleged against Algeria. According to a 2008 report by the U.S. Department of State, Algeria’s human rights problems include “failure to account for persons who disappeared in detention during the 1990s, reports of abuse and torture, official impunity, abuse of pretrial detention, poor prison conditions, limited judicial independence, and restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly. There were also increased limitations on religious freedom and problems with security-based restrictions on movement, corruption and lack of government transparency, discrimination and violence against women, and restrictions on workers' rights.”

Lobbying Activity | Repressive Regimes |

David Keene (Board Member)

In May 2005, Keene spoke at an ACU dinner celebrating and defending then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was embroiled in a number of ethics scandals (DeLay has since been convicted of money laundering). NRA Board Member Cleta Mitchell served as M.C. for the event. Attendees at the event included DeLay himself, then-House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R – MO), then-RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, NRA Board Members Grover Norquist and Governor Jim Gilmore (R – VA), and approximately 30 members of Congress. The NRA purchased a table at the dinner for $2,000. In an interview with NPR a day after the event, Keene announced that “conservatives will protect their own” and called ethics investigations against DeLay “an attack on the conservative agenda” and “each and every” one of the 800 attendees of the dinner.

Political Corruption | Republican Party (GOP) |

David Keene (Board Member)

In a March 14, 2005 op-ed for The Hill, Keene claimed that former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan “facilitated a genocidal uprising in Rwanda.” Annan, who was the director of U.N. Peacekeeping Operations during the Rwanda genocide, has said, “I believed at that time that I was doing my best. But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support.”

David Keene (Board Member)

Keene’s son, David Michael Keene, was charged with attempted first degree murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for firing a gun at another vehicle during a 2002 road rage incident. At the time of the incident, Keene was working with his father at ACU as an online communications director. Between the ages of 8 and 13, David Michael Keene was institutionalized seven times for “severe emotional problems,” including “a continuing problem with impulse control.”

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