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NRA Leaders by Ties

NRA Leaders' Links To Lobbying Activity

The following is a list of controversial statements and actions of NRA leaders regarding their ties to Lobbying Activity. NRA leaders are listed alphabetically by last name.

Joe Allbaugh (Board Member)

In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Shaw Group—represented by Allbaugh’s lobbying firm—was awarded $200 million in no-bid federal government contracts to repair damage done by the hurricane. Allbaugh’s hand-selected replacement as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael Brown, was leading the agency at the time. When criticized for lobbying and consulting with an agency he used to head, Allbaugh responded, “I don't buy the 'revolving door' argument. This is America. We all have a right to make a living."

Allbaugh lobbied for tax perks for the River Birch Landfill company in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2010, the FBI raided River Birch’s offices as part of a criminal investigation into allegations of “pay-to-play” politics between River Birch and local government officials in Jefferson Parish.

Bob Barr (Board Member)

Matt Blunt (Board Member)

In 2003, Gregg Hartley stepped down as Chief of Staff for then-U.S. Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) and began working as a lobbyist for Cassidy & Associates, where he lobbies his former boss and other Republican legislators. In 2006, Cassidy & Associates was hired by the Missouri Association of Realtors to lobby then-Missouri Governor Matt Blunt to oppose a veto recommendation of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission for a piece of realty legislation. The Department of Justice’s antitrust division and Federal Trade Commission warned that the legislation in question would raise costs for individuals buying homes. Blunt did not follow the recommendation and signed the bill—which benefitted realtors—into law. Cassidy & Associates and their clients then made thousands of dollars in political donations to Matt Blunt. Matt Blunt joined Cassidy & Associates as a senior consultant in February 2009, less than one month after his last day as governor of Missouri.

Harlon Carter (Former NRA Executive Vice President)

Chris Cox (Executive Director)

On July 12, 2012, Cox wrote a letter to U.S. Senators in opposition to the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, a bill that would require disclosure of the corporations and high-dollar individual donors paying for “independent expenditure” political ads. In the letter, Cox stated that the Act’s “provisions require organizations to turn membership and donor lists over to the government” and would violate the right of citizens “to speak and associate privately and anonymously.” Cox threatened, “Due to the importance of the fundamental speech and associational rights of the National Rifle Association’s four million members, and considering the blatant attack on those rights that S. 3369 represents, we strongly oppose the DISCLOSE Act and will consider votes on this legislation in future candidate evaluations.” In fact, groups such as the NRA would not be required to disclose their entire membership or donor list, only the names of those donors whose aggregate donation during the reporting cycle was $10,000 or more. Organizations like the NRA could keep the names of some of their high dollar donors private under the legislation by setting up a separate bank account for independent political spending. Groups would only have to disclose the names of their high dollar donors whose money funded such independent expenditures. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the controversial Citizens United decision endorsed this sort of disclosure as “the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations.”

On July 12, 2012, Cox wrote a letter to U.S. Senators in opposition to the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, a bill that would require disclosure of the corporations and high-dollar individual donors paying for “independent expenditure” political ads. In the letter, Cox stated that the Act’s “provisions require organizations to turn membership and donor lists over to the government” and would violate the right of citizens “to speak and associate privately and anonymously.” Cox threatened, “Due to the importance of the fundamental speech and associational rights of the National Rifle Association’s four million members, and considering the blatant attack on those rights that S. 3369 represents, we strongly oppose the DISCLOSE Act and will consider votes on this legislation in future candidate evaluations.” In fact, groups such as the NRA would not be required to disclose their entire membership or donor list, only the names of those donors whose aggregate donation during the reporting cycle was $10,000 or more. Organizations like the NRA could keep the names of some of their high dollar donors private under the legislation by setting up a separate bank account for independent political spending. Groups would only have to disclose the names of their high dollar donors whose money funded such independent expenditures. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the controversial Citizens United decision endorsed this sort of disclosure as “the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations.”

Larry Craig (Board Member)

In 2011, Craig lobbied Congress to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The former U.S. Senator’s client, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, wanted the gray wolf de-listed because of concern that a recovered wolf population would eat big game animals prized by hunters. Once common in throughout North America, the gray wolf is now extinct in all but a few locations in the United States.

In 2009, New West Strategies, a lobbying firm co-founded by Craig, lobbied the federal government on behalf of two Idaho counties who wanted a federal prison to be constructed within their borders. Representatives of the counties cancelled the $5,000-per-month lobbying contract after Craig’s firm failed to secure funding in the federal budget for the project.

Cam Edwards (NRA News Radio Host)

On the May 22, 2012 broadcast of “Cam & Company,” Edwards spoke with National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) adjunct fellow Horace Cooper. NCPRR was founded one day after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) disbanded its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which was responsible for model voter ID and “Stand Your Ground” legislation. NCPPR promotes the implementation of voter ID laws at the state level in order to “enhance integrity in voting.” On the show, Cooper claimed that voter fraud is “a real problem” and that “felons, illegal immigrants, or just people who are paid to show up...go from one voting site to the next and cast votes in the names of other people.” Edwards agreed with Cooper and displayed a graphic which claimed that newly enacted voter ID legislation in Virginia “will ensure that voters presenting themselves at the polls are who they say they are, and greatly reduce voter fraud.” Cooper expressed NCPPR’s preference for voter ID laws similar to those in Texas and South Carolina, stating that these laws contain “grade A voter ID requirements.” Those laws have been challenged in court by the Department of Justice over allegations that they disenfranchise minorities. Furthermore, research has shown that in-person voter fraud of the kind Cooper warns about is extremely rare in the United States. Finally, in 2010, Cooper, a former Department of Labor official, pled guilty to falsifying a document after he failed to report gifts worth thousands of dollars which he received from convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Manny Fernandez (Board Member)

Marion Hammer (Board Member)

During a March 2014 meeting of the Florida House Environment and Natural Resources Council, Hammer told Mike Prendergast, head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, that Terrence Gorman, general counsel for the Department of Military Affairs and a staff attorney for the Florida National Guard stationed in St. Augustine, was “on her [expletive] list.” Gorman had given testimony during a Senate committee hearing the previous week critical of Senate Bill 206, a bill Hammer supported. SB 206 would allow “someone who is required to evacuate during an emergency like a hurricane to keep a gun on them even if they don’t have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.” Hammer’s anger towards Mr. Prendergast was apparently misplaced. Mr. Gorman doesn’t work in Prendergrast’s department.

In July 2012, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee sent Hammer a three-page letter in response to a survey she had sent to sheriff candidates around the state of Florida on behalf of the NRA and the United Sportsmen of Florida. One question asked, “Would you support legislation to restrict or ban the lawful manufacture, sale, transfer, ownership or possession of firearms?” Gee responded with examples of how courts have restricted the Second Amendment; including a prohibition on felons possessing firearms. Gee stated, “Since I am legally and morally bound to follow the law as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States, I freely accept their decision.” The survey also stated, “Businesses have been using off-duty law enforcement officers—in their official uniforms—as private security and have been SEARCHING private vehicles that are parked in business parking lots." Gee objected to the question, stating that it implies that when an officer asks for permission to search a vehicle, that officer is being "inherently coercive." He wrote, “Courts allow these consent searches.” The Florida Sheriff's Association drafted its own response to Hammer's questionnaire, writing, “The Sheriffs in our state have long defended a citizen's right to keep and bear arms as outlined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. However, the Sheriffs also have a duty to oppose legislation that would reduce public safety and place citizens and law enforcement officers at greater risk. It is unfortunate that some would view this common sense approach as being anti-Second Amendment, as this is far from our position as our history has shown."

In June 2012, Hammer sent a survey on behalf of the NRA and the United Sportsmen of Florida to sheriffs candidates around the state of Florida. One question about Florida’s first-in-the-nation “Stand Your Ground” law asked, “Do you agree that no victim of crime should be required to surrender his life, health, safety, personal dignity, autonomy, or property to a criminal, nor should a victim be required to retreat in the face of attack from any place he or she has a right to be?” There were two possible answers: “Yes, I believe the ‘Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground’ is appropriate and victims have a right to fight back without a duty to retreat,” or “No, I oppose the ‘Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground’ and believe victims should surrender to criminals or retreat to avoid fighting back.” Another question asked whether candidates support a law that would allow someone with a concealed weapons permit to openly display a gun. Those in favor could answer, “Yes, I support open carry…as a means to stop harassment by those anti-gun law enforcement officers [who question or arrest individuals who openly carry guns in public].”

Several other survey questions addressed the NRA’s goal of prohibiting sheriffs from lobbying for gun safety legislation. One question asked, “Do you believe it is appropriate for a sheriff to lobby or use deputies and/or their deputies to lobby against the Second Amendment rights of the law-abiding citizens they are sworn to serve?” Another question asked, “Do you believe it is appropriate for a sheriff or any of his deputies or employees to lobby on issues against the constitutional rights of law-abiding firearms owners , in the name of the Sheriff, Sheriffs department or any Organization or Association in any official law enforcement capacity?” The two possible answers were: “No, I would not allow it. Our duty is to respect and serve our community and uphold the law and the Constitution,” or “Yes, I would allow it if it makes things more convenient for law enforcement.” Commenting on the issue, Hammer stated, “We don’t believe it’s appropriate for any law enforcement agency to be lobbying against the Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the constitution of the citizens they were elected to protect and represent.”

The cover sheet attached to the four-page survey warned in bold letters, “No endorsement or support will be provided to a candidate who fails to return the questionnaire.” Hammer said about the survey, “Voters have a right and a responsibility to know who they are voting for. I’m not apologetic if that offends the Florida Sheriffs Association and anti-gun sheriffs.” Florida Sheriffs Association Executive Director Steve Casey responded that sheriffs are neither “pro-gun” nor “anti-gun.” “They’re pro public safety,” he said.

In June 2012, Hammer sent a survey on behalf of the NRA and the United Sportsmen of Florida to sheriffs candidates around the state of Florida. One question about Florida’s first-in-the-nation “Stand Your Ground” law asked, “Do you agree that no victim of crime should be required to surrender his life, health, safety, personal dignity, autonomy, or property to a criminal, nor should a victim be required to retreat in the face of attack from any place he or she has a right to be?” There were two possible answers: “Yes, I believe the ‘Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground’ is appropriate and victims have a right to fight back without a duty to retreat,” or “No, I oppose the ‘Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground’ and believe victims should surrender to criminals or retreat to avoid fighting back.” Another question asked whether candidates support a law that would allow someone with a concealed weapons permit to openly display a gun. Those in favor could answer, “Yes, I support open carry…as a means to stop harassment by those anti-gun law enforcement officers [who question or arrest individuals who openly carry guns in public].”

Several other survey questions addressed the NRA’s goal of prohibiting sheriffs from lobbying for gun safety legislation. One question asked, “Do you believe it is appropriate for a sheriff to lobby or use deputies and/or their deputies to lobby against the Second Amendment rights of the law-abiding citizens they are sworn to serve?” Another question asked, “Do you believe it is appropriate for a sheriff or any of his deputies or employees to lobby on issues against the constitutional rights of law-abiding firearms owners , in the name of the Sheriff, Sheriffs department or any Organization or Association in any official law enforcement capacity?” The two possible answers were: “No, I would not allow it. Our duty is to respect and serve our community and uphold the law and the Constitution,” or “Yes, I would allow it if it makes things more convenient for law enforcement.” Commenting on the issue, Hammer stated, “We don’t believe it’s appropriate for any law enforcement agency to be lobbying against the Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the constitution of the citizens they were elected to protect and represent.”

The cover sheet attached to the four-page survey warned in bold letters, “No endorsement or support will be provided to a candidate who fails to return the questionnaire.” Hammer said about the survey, “Voters have a right and a responsibility to know who they are voting for. I’m not apologetic if that offends the Florida Sheriffs Association and anti-gun sheriffs.” Florida Sheriffs Association Executive Director Steve Casey responded that sheriffs are neither “pro-gun” nor “anti-gun.” “They’re pro public safety,” he said. Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson stated that the NRA “doesn't want the sheriffs to be in Tallahassee to work on any kind of legislation, which we have taken for years...to try and work for good laws for the state of Florida such as narcotics laws, pill laws, traffic safety.” Johnson, a longtime NRA member, added that it is “sad to see [the NRA] take such a hard line on it.”

A Bloomberg News article from May 11, 2012 provided several interesting anecdotes about Hammer, including:

On March 20, 2012, Hammer responded to the controversial shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by concealed handgun permit holder George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. The shooter, who was not arrested, claimed that he acted in self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Hammer, the NRA lobbyist who championed the law in the Florida state legislature, stated, “So for law enforcement to rush to judgment just because they are being stampeded by emotionalism would be a violation of law. This law is not about one incident. It's about protecting the right of law-abiding people to protect themselves when they are attacked. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the law. And if the [Republican] governor [Rick Scott] wants to waste time looking at it he can knock himself out.” Since its enactment in 2005, the “Stand Your Ground Law” has been tied to a number of shootings that involved the questionable use of deadly force.

During the 2011 legislative session, Hammer lobbied for a bill to force Florida’s cities and counties to repeal local rules regulating firearms that are stricter than state law. The legislation instituted fines for local officials who fail to comply, and gave gun owners a right to sue for damages if they believe their rights have been violated.

Municipal leaders stood in strong opposition to the bill. “This probably passed because of someone from the NRA, someone who doesn’t care about urban conditions,” said Aaron Campbell, vice mayor of Miami Gardens. “It’s sad that a piece of legislation can pass like this.” Elaine H. Black of the Liberty City Trust stated, “I’m concerned about some deranged person who doesn’t like what our government is doing coming in and shooting someone. If I can go now into the Miami Riverside Center, the main operating office of Miami, or any municipal building—and there’s always someone who’s walking into that door who’s not happy with government. Maybe you put a lien on my property, and I think that’s not right—I can walk in with a gun and shoot you.” The Florida League of Cities was concerned that the bill changed a longstanding common law practice of shielding elected and appointed officials from civil lawsuits relating to their job function.

Hammer dismissed these concerns, saying, “You’re not going to have every Tom, Dick and Harry carrying a firearm on their person up and down the streets and into buildings because it’s a felony [unless the person has a license to carry a concealed weapon].” When asked why it why it was OK for municipal leaders to beef up local laws on a host of other issues, such as where sex offenders can live, Hammer replied, “Sex offenders are not protected by the Constitution.” She added, “The right to keep and bear arms has Constitutional protection and ocal governments have been violating the Constitutional rights with no punishment.”

Hammer described elected officials who wish to regulate guns on the local level as “gun hating-Liberals.” “The legislature...made it clear in [1987] legislation that no future ordinances regulating firearms and ammunition could be adopted," she said. "And through that 24 years, there have been a number of counties that have arrogantly done it anyhow because there were no penalties in that bill.”

The legislation was signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Scott and went into effect on October 1, 2011.

During the 2011 legislative session in Florida, Hammer lobbied for a bill to prevent Florida doctors from asking their patients if they own a gun and counseling them about firearms safety. Hammer claimed that such questions violate the privacy of gun owners and “offend common decency.” "They are entering that information into medical records on laptop computers which greatly concerns parents because anything you put in a medical record they fear can be accessed by insurance companies or the government and used against ‘em," she explained. "Doctors should not ask you how much money you have in your checking account, whether or not you own diamond cufflinks or your wife owns a diamond necklace. They should not be asking whether or not you own guns."

Hammer said that gun-owning parents in Florida had complained to her for many years about pediatricians’ inquiries about firearms; but could only produce one specific example of this occurring.

She also drew broader theories about doctors' motives: “This is a campaign that started eight to ten years ago by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics and they decided to join the gun ban crowd," Hammer said. "They give pediatricians advice to give to parents and that’s not to buy a gun and if they own guns to get rid of ‘em. So when they start giving that advice to pediatricians and your very Liberal, anti-gun pediatricians start taking that advice, then we have problems ... We don’t want to pay to sit there and be lectured by a pediatrician or a GP telling us that guns are bad and giving erroneous statistics like they have on their website that if you have a gun in the home it’s 43 times more likely to be used on you than not. I mean, this is nonsense ... It’s about carrying out a gun ban campaign and it has to stop.” Hammer decried: "It's about politics. Pure, raw, anti-gun politics being imposed on patients when they are most vulnerable, when they are sick or hurt and need help."

The Florida Medical Association strongly opposed the bill, telling their members: “This legislation criminalizes doctors who ask their patients about gun ownership to ascertain accurate and complete patient history as well as advise patients on gun safety ... This is an inappropriate intrusion of government into the bond that exists between doctors and their patients ... Legal measures are already in place to ensure that the information patients share with physicians will be kept confidential.”

The bill, which originally fined doctors $5 million for asking patients about gun ownership, was amended to create a tiered fine system for violators. An offending doctor would be charged $10,000 for the first offense, at least $25,000 for the second offense, and a minimum of $100,000 for the third offense.

After the legislation was passed by the Florida state legislature, the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups sent Republican Governor Rick Scott a letter asking him to veto it. Hammer accused them of an intimidation campaign, saying, “They sent a letter that was a blatant threat. They attempted to intimidate and coerce the governor by telling him that they would sue him and other state officials if the bill became law. Now, that tells you the type of people you’re dealing with. To threaten a governor in that manner is just uncalled for.” In June 2011, Governor Scott signed the legislation into law.

On September 14, 2011, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on the law. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke reasoned that the law "chilled" free speech and wrote in her decision: "The law curtails practitioners' ability to inquire about whether patients own firearms and burdens their ability to deliver a firearm safety message to patients ... Information regarding firearm ownership is not sacrosanct. Federal and state statues heavily regulate firearm ownership, possession and sale and require firearm owners to provide personal information in certain circumstances."

During the 2011 legislative session in Florida, the Florida Sheriff’s Association opposed a bill that sought to allow people to openly carry firearms in public without storing them in safety holsters. Seminole Sheriff Don Eslinger, speaking on behalf of the association, testified that the legislation was a bad idea in a tourist state, and pointed out that visible weapons are ripe targets for thieves—especially if a gun isn't properly secured. "Many officers are killed with their own guns," Eslinger noted. "And keep in mind, these are skilled practitioners."

Hammer, who was the primary lobbyist for the bill, explained that an Open Carry law was needed because, “Silly as it may sound, if a license holder is carrying a concealed firearm and the wind blows open a jacket or a shirt exposing the firearm, the person can be charged with a crime for violating the Open Carry law ... This is Florida. It gets really hot here in the summer. A lot of times folks might go into a restaurant or into, you know, a meeting and they have on a suit with a coat and it’s hot and they want to take off their jacket, if they’re carrying in a shoulder holster or in a pants holster they can’t take a jacket off and expose the firearm because then they would be violating the Open Carry law." She was unable to provide any specific examples of permit holders being arrested for such violations.

Speaking about opponents of the bill, Hammer said, "Open Carry was one of those things that we lost here in Florida when we passed concealed carry because the gun haters said that carrying openly would scare people so we ended up with Open Carry being banned in Florida 24 years ago ... claim that everybody’s going to strap a holster on and a gun on their hip and walk up and down Main Street. Well, that’s nonsense, that’s nothing more than emotional hysterics designed to try to kill a bill.”

When she was asked about the Florida sheriffs who lobbied against Open Carry, Hammer accused them of "bullying" legislators and said, "a lot of 'em are [anti-gun radicals]." "In my 34 years, I’ve not seen anything this egregious," Hammer added.

Republican Governor Rick Scott eventually signed a watered-down version of the bill into law on June 17, 2011.

Hammer was the primary lobbyist for a bill introduced in the Florida state legislature in January 2011 that sought to force the state’s colleges and universities to allow guns on campus. Under SB 234, anyone with a concealed handgun permit recognized by Florida would have been able to carry a loaded gun onto a college campus—including into classrooms and dormitories.

The bill was introduced just days after Florida State University sophomore Ashley Cowie, 20, was accidentally shot and killed at a fraternity party by fellow student Ryan Wilhelm, who discharged his semiautomatic AK-74 assault rifle while showing it off. Wilhelm had a blood alcohol level of approximately .10 at the time of the shooting and had also been smoking marijuana.

Commenting about the shooting, Hammer emphasized it happened off-campus in a fraternity house where guns are banned. “With shootings on campus, they are essentially a gun-free zone and in a gun-free zone the good guys don’t have a chance,” she said.

When asked why SB 234 was necessary, Hammer replied, “There’s a lot of safety by allowing guns on campus. That’s how a lot of us protect ourselves because law enforcement can’t be there when we need them. Law enforcement is not stopping rapes on campus, and not stopping a lot of crimes ... "Nothing about a university or college campus should take away an individual's right of self-defense."”

In response to those who questioned the wisdom of arming young people in an academic environment often characterized by stress and heated debate, Hammer made the following argument: “In order to qualify for a license, a person has to be 21 years of age or older. We’re not talking about teenage freshmen or underclassmen, so folks shouldn’t let anybody put that false image in your head However, we need to remember that this country asks 18 year olds to go to war and die for this country but we don’t let ‘em carry firearms until they’re 21 years of age or older and the reality is when we do let ‘em carry, we currently are denying that right if they decide to go to college and get a better education and make a better life for themselves.”

The police chiefs of Florida’s states universities came out in unanimous opposition to SB 234. The Florida Police Chiefs Association also opposed SB 234.

SB 234 was amended to remove the guns on campus provision on March 9, 2011 after Dr. Robert Cowie—the father of slain student Ashley Cowie and a registered Republican—testified against the bill in front of the Senate Florida Criminal Justice Committee. “Allowing guns in an atmosphere of college parties puts everyone involved at increased and undue risk,” he told committee members. "I challenge anyone present today in this room who is a parent—or for that matter any voter in this state that is a parent—to come forward to meet me eye to eye and comfort me with the thought that our campuses will be better and safer places if the possession of firearms is permitted by anyone other than a law enforcement officer ... If you wish to see further evidence of what a weapon on campuses can do, I invite you to attend my daughter's memorial service. " After the bill was amended, Dr. Cowie commented, “If my making a statement would possibly prevent another family from going through what we did, I knew I'd make the effort. I think Ashley would be proud of me."

A 2010 IRS Form 990 filed by Hammer’s United Sportsmen of Florida (USF) organization revealed that the organization loaned Hammer over $50,000 to assist her in purchasing a home (to be repaid at 2% interest). This loan is in addition to the $110,000 in compensation Hammer, the only paid employee of USF, received that year.

While lobbying for legislation that sought to ban adoption agencies from asking would-be parents questions about firearms ownership, Hammer claimed that any request about gun ownership from an agency connected with government was tantamount to establishing a private gun registry. “Gun registration is illegal in Florida,” said Hammer. “An adoption agency has no right to subvert the privacy rights of gun owners.'' Hammer never specified exactly how gun owners’ rights would be subverted either by questions about gun ownership or registration.

While lobbying for an NRA-drafted bill that sought to prevent Florida’s private businesses from prohibiting employees from keeping guns locked in their cars in company parking lots, Hammer commented, "The Constitution begins, 'We the people,' not ‘we the Chamber,’ not ‘we the Retail Federation,’ not ‘we the Disney.’ It's 'we the people.'" David Daniel, the chief lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce—which strongly opposed the legislation—dismissed the bill as a “big government solution looking for a problem.”

The legislation was eventually signed into law by then-Republican Governor Charlie Crist and became effective July 1, 2008.

During the 2007 legislative session, a bill was introduced in the Florida state legislature to prevent private businesses from prohibiting employees from keeping guns locked in their cars in company parking lots. While lobbying for the bill, Hammer commented to the Associated Press: “[Private businesses] ought to be tickled to death for getting immunity from things that are happening in their parking lots. This bill codifies longstanding public policy and constitutional guarantees. It could not be simpler.” She did not provide an explanation, however, of where in the Second Amendment a right to take guns to one’s workplace is granted. Hammer also added, Big corporations want property rights for themselves but not for their customers or employees. “This bill is about people. And people are more important than a chunk of asphalt in a parking lot.”

Mark Wilson, the vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, had a different take on the legislation, saying, “This is the biggest assault on private property rights and the employer-employee relationship that this Legislature has ever heard ... Some of our members are dumbfounded that you can be smart enough to be in the legislature and still consider this bill seriously.”

In April 2007, a survey was released by Tel Opinion Research. The survey indicated that “80% of Floridians [thought] businesses and homeowners should decide what things are brought onto their property” and “56%...said business owners should be able to expressly bar their workers from having guns in the vehicles.”

In response to an independent investigation that revealed Florida had issued concealed handgun permits to more than 1,400 people who plead guilty or no contest to felonies; 216 people with outstanding warrants, including for murder; 28 people with active domestic violence restraining orders against them; and 6 registered sex offenders, Hammer said, “We do not participate in legislation that gratuitously takes away the rights of people, because when you begin taking away the rights of people that you don’t like, that’s the slippery slope." She then explained, “When people plead guilty or no contest in these cases frequently, very frequently, these are people who have not committed any crime, but their lawyer advises them to take a plea bargain.” Hammer lobbied successfully against the efforts of three major police organizations—the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association—to tighten the eligibility rules for permit holders and prevent dangerous people from legally carrying guns in public.

During the 2006 legislative session in Florida, Hammer lobbied for a bill that sought to create a public records exemption for concealed handgun permits and rejected permit applications—thereby barring Florida residents from knowing which individuals in their communities had obtained permits, and preventing them from independently auditing the permitting process to ensure public safety. When the legislation was signed into law by then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush in June 2006, Barbara Petersen, the president of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, commented, “I think this exemption makes a mockery of the constitutional right of access. The stated purpose of this bill is protect sensitive information. What is sensitive about your name? These are a privileged class of people who are allowed to carry a concealed weapon. They have to jump through some hoops. [But] we have absolutely no opportunity for oversight.” [Source: Palm Beach Post, “Bush Signs Gun-Related Bills into Law,” June 8, 2006]

On May 8, 2006, Hammer accused business leaders of deceiving her and lying to Florida state legislators. She was upset that a bill that she had lobbied for— which sought to prevent companies from prohibiting employees from keeping guns locked in their cars in company parking lots—had died on the last day of the legislative session. "They can interpret this any way they want to,” said Hammer. “I'm interpreting it as another opportunity to work this issue because it's not over until I say it's over. We intend to work until we pass legislation that protects the existing right of law-abiding gun owners in Florida to keep a lawful product in their car whether they go to buy groceries, visit an amusement center, stop at a doctor's office or anywhere else that people commonly go."

Florida Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis commented that, “It was clear to most people this was bad policy, and you can’t take a basic property right away from thousands of Floridians without a fight.”

Hammer was the primary lobbyist behind a “Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground” bill that aimed to eliminate Florida’s common law duty to use every reasonable means available to retreat from a conflict prior to using deadly force, which the state's Supreme Court had legitimized by explaining, “Human life is precious, and deadly combat should be avoided if at all possible when imminent danger to oneself can be avoided.” The bill, SB 436, stated that any individual who is in a place where he/she has a legal right to be, and who is “not engaged in an unlawful activity...has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” Individuals using lethal force in this manner were to be granted immunity from both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits. Critics labeled SB 436 “Shoot First” legislation.

Hammer explained her reason for pushing the bill as follows: “Through time, in this country, what I like to call bleeding heart criminal coddlers want you to give a criminal an even break, so that when you're attacked, you're supposed to turn around and run, rather than standing your ground and protecting yourself and your family and your property. [I] started thinking then that the day will come when we will have to do some serious thinking about changing this … Taking away the rights of law-abiding people and putting them in jeopardy of being prosecuted and then sued by criminals who were injured when they were committing crimes against victims is wrong.”

She also claimed that during hurricane seasons in Florida, “In a lot of these devastated areas, law enforcement would tell communities, ‘You're on your own, we can't get to you.’ So, we needed to be sure that when people protected themselves, their families and their property, that they weren't gonna be prosecuted by some criminal coddling prosecutor.” Responding to criticism that the "Stand Your Ground" law could be invoked by the perpetrators of violent crime to avoid criminal prosecution, Hammer stated, "We saw a parade of hypotheticals by those who opposed this... What's important is the message it sends, and that's, 'don't attack me.'"

Furthermore, Hammer was unable to produce even a single example of a law-abiding gun owner being prosecuted for using a firearm for legitimate self-defense in the home prior to 2005.

Among those who opposed the “Stand Your Ground” bill were the National District Attorneys Association, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and police chiefs from cities including Miami and St. Petersburg. Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer commented, “I dislike the law because it encourages people to stand their ground…when they could just as easily walk away. To me, that’s not a civilized society.” Paul Logli, president of the National District Attorneys Association, pointed out that the law “give[s] citizens more rights to use deadly force than we give police officers, and with less review.”

Regarding these concerns posed by critics of the legislation, Hammer said, “It’s nothing but emotional hystericsThose who like to ban guns attempted to say that this law would allow street gangs because they were legally in the street.”

The Castle Doctrine bill was signed into law on April 26, 2005 by Republican Governor Jeb Bush.

Jeannie Suk, a professor at Harvard Law School, published an analysis of Florida’s Castle Doctrine law and has described it in the following terms: “There is an important change in this law. Even the traditional castle doctrine, which was very protective of people in their homes, and allowed them to shoot in their home without retreating, it still meant that you had to be reasonably afraid of death or serious bodily harm. This was a very important requirement. You don't just let people kill in self-defense and say, oh, you were afraid of being attacked. You actually have to show that your fear was reasonable. And now…you don't have to do that because you don't have to prove that in court. But more importantly, even before the trial stage, what happens is that police officers and prosecutors, it affects their decisions about whether to bring cases, whether to make arrests or to bring a prosecution. I think it's a very big deal.” Duval County State Attorney Harry Shorstein has cited “a lesser sensitivity to gun violence and death” after the law was passed.

The New York Times and others have identified numerous cases of questionable (and unnecessary) homicides where shooters invoked the Castle Doctrine defense. A 2011 analysis by the South Florida Sun Sentinel found that “several…accused murderers have successfully used [Florida’s] 2005 ‘Stand Your Ground’ law to prove they were the real victims.” Bradford Cohen, the president of the Broward County chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, has described the law as “one more tool we can use.”

In 1988, Hammer distributed a newsletter to members of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida—an NRA affiliate organization—accusing state legislators who favored closing loopholes in a concealed carry law of supporting “a modern-day Gestapo movement.” One of the loopholes the legislation sought to correct allowed violent individuals to possess firearms pending a criminal judgment. Republican State Senator John Grant called for Hammer’s resignation and said, “I think Marion Hammer has lost any effectiveness that she might have or any credibility she might have with legislators on both sides of the issue.” Republican State Senator Malcolm Beard added, “I never have been for gun control. But this letter from a lobbyist is filled with half-truths.” The Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Criminal Committee, Bob Johnson, said Hammer possessed, “the lowest standard of integrity I have ever seen for a lobbyist in Tallahassee.”

Graham Hill (Board Member)

Graham is part of the “revolving door” culture in Washington. Prior to founding Ice Miller Strategies, LLC to lobby on transportation issues, Graham worked for Representative Charles Pickering, Jr. (R – MS) and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. One prominent Ice Miller client is Vulcan Materials, which paid Ice Miller $350,000 between 2007 and 2011 to lobby on transportation issues.

One of Graham’s principal Ice Miller clients is General Atomic, which paid Ice Miller $510,000 in lobbying fees between 2007 and 2011. General Atomics has courted controversy for the large amount of money it spends underwriting trips for members of Congress and their families.

Roy Innis (Board Member)

On March 18, 2008, Innis spoke at a press conference held by the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity prior to testifying before the Wisconsin state legislature on climate change. Innis said, “The economic crisis we are in now, can be solved with just letting people know the facts. Let them know that the right thing to do is not what they have been doing, which is going along with the environmentalist radicals … Ordinary people are good people, they want to do the right thing. Unfortunately we have sat idly by and have allowed them to think the right thing is to follow the radical environmentalists … It is crazy that we have environmental policies that prevent us from using some of the best resources we have. We have, on a per capita basis, more coal than anyone else in the world. We have a lot of gas. And we have a lot of petroleum too—up in ANWR [Artic National Wildlife Refuge] and the coastal areas. We are a rich country, rich in resources, rich in energy, potential energy, and we have laws that prevent us from maximizing it.” Americans for Prosperity is a corporate-backed “astroturf” organization that promotes Republican and corporate interests. President Obama has criticized the group by saying, “Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country. And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don't know if it’s a big oil company, or a big bank.”

In 2006 Innis—whose CORE organization has taken money from original DDT manufacturer Monsanto—said, “We are fighting the same battle, for the liberation of black people. In the past that meant taking on old racists and colonialists—now it means challenging environmentalists too.” Innis also claimed that European Union restrictions on the use of DDT are “killing black babies.” Medical research has linked human exposure to DDT to diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems, including miscarriages, developmental disabilities, and premature births. DDT is also a “probable human carcinogen,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Grover Norquist (Board Member)

In a July 21, 2012 interview with the Hill, Norquist addressed calls by President Barack Obama to restore tax rates for the top 1% of American earners to the levels they were at prior to the administration of President George W. Bush. Norquist stated, “Last time Republicans won the House [in the 2010 elections] and [were] a little strengthened in the Senate and Obama folded completely. We’re going to be stronger this time than after last time; our hostages are the 20 Democrats up in ’14. We’ll send them either piece by piece or one at a time over to the White House to negotiate.”

In a November 9, 2011 article in Rolling Stone, David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s budget director from 1981 to 1985, described Norquist as a “fiscal terrorist” for his role in the debt ceiling crisis of 2011. Norquist was able to veto any resolution to the crisis that raised the marginal tax rate because nearly every Republican member of Congress was a signatory to his Americans for Tax Reform organization’s pledge to never raise taxes. Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also criticized Norquist, calling him “a good guy with a very bad idea" who “should be examined into.” Simpson went on to ask, “Where does he get his money? ... Who is he slave to? ... How does he terrify people?” Paul O’Neill, who served as Treasury Secretary in the administration of Republican George W. Bush, also commented on the debt ceiling debacle, stating, “Congress was willing to cause severe economic damage to the entire population simply because they were slaves to an idiot's idea of how the world works.”

In 2011, Norquist lobbied the U.S. State Department to approve the Keystone XL project, an extension to the controversial Keystone Pipeline that brings oil from Canada into the United States. The Natural Resources Defense Council has said the Keystone XL extension would “lock the United States into a dependence on hard-to-extract oil and generate a massive expansion of the destructive tar sands oil operations in Canada. In addition to the damage that would be caused by the increased tar sands extraction, the pipeline threatens to pollute freshwater supplies in America’s agricultural heartland and increase emissions in already-polluted communities of the Gulf Coast.”

In 2011, Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform organization lobbied on a number of issues before Congress. Among the many conservative bills supported by Norquist’s organization were:

When disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy in 2006, it was revealed in an investigative report released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that Norquist used his tax-exempt Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) organization to help Abramoff funnel money from his clients to conservative causes (ATR kept a small cut of the funds). The Senate Finance Committee reported that, in doing so, ATR “appear[ed] to have perpetrated a fraud on other taxpayers” by “profit-seeking and private benefit behavior inconsistent with their tax-exempt status. And by virtue of the tax benefits, other taxpayers implicitly subsidized this behavior.” Additionally, clients of Abramoff were also directed to give Norquist’s organization money. In an e-mail to colleagues, Abramoff wrote, “I spoke this evening with Grover. He said that, if [the Choctaw Indian tribe] want the taxpayer movement, including him, involved on this issue and anything else which will come up over the course of the year or so, they need to become a major player with ATR. He recommended that they make a $50,000 contribution to ATR.” According to Mark Salter, a top aide to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), “By his own admission, Grover couldn’t be any closer to Abramoff if they moved to Massachusetts and got married.”

In 2006, the Associated Press reported that Norquist—who visited the White House 97 times between 2001 and 2006—helped arrange meetings for clients of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff with officials in the administration of George W. Bush. At the same time, Norquist was soliciting donations from these clients for his group Americans for Tax Reform. When the Bush administration tried to seal records of visitors to the White House, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney said, “By trying to extend a special privilege typically reserved for U.S. government employees to protect their Abramoff cronies like Grover Norquist…the Bush administration showed just how willing they are to manipulate the law to hide the truth and protect their political interests.”

Prior to the downfall of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Norquist promoted the Northern Mariana Islands as a positive example of free enterprise. A 1998 Department of Interior report, however, documented widespread human rights abuses associated with a booming sweatshop industry on the islands (clothing made on the islands carries a “Made in USA” label). The report found that women and children immigrant workers were subjected to forced abortions, sex slavery, and substandard pay and working conditions. The Mariana Islands were one of Abramoff’s biggest clients, paying him over $9 million during the course of their relationship. Abramoff charged his client thousands of dollars for “discussions” with Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform staffers.

In a September 16, 1998 op-ed for the Washington Times, Norquist praised the casino gambling operations of the Mississippi Choctaw tribe, writing that Choctaw Chief Philip Martin “has shown that the Enterprise Zone model of economic development, with greatly reduced tax and regulatory burdens and local control, can work incredibly well in the most difficult of circumstances.” Between 1995 and 2002, the Mississippi Choctaw tribe donated $1.5 million to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform organization.

In 1997, Norquist founded Janus-Merritt Strategies, a lobbying firm, along with David Safavian. Safavian was later convicted on felony obstruction of justice charges in relation to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. The Janus-Merritt clientele included:

Norquist was a vocal supporter of California's Proposition 209 in 1996, a ballot measure that eliminated affirmative action programs. He has called affirmative action “government racism” and urged Republicans to fight affirmative action “without compromise.” In 1997, Norquist helped found the American Civil Rights Institute, an organization dedicated to repealing affirmative action programs nationwide.

In 1995, in the wake of the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, Norquist, then- House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (who has since been convicted of money laundering), and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff founded The K Street Project. The goal of the project was to facilitate the hiring of Republicans at top lobbying firms and then reward the firms by offering access to influential GOP officials. The explicit “pay-to-play” nature of the project is now illegal, however, in 2003 Republican lobbyists held 33 of the 36 top-level lobbying positions in Washington. During the midst of the project, Norquist told journalist Elizabeth Drew, “There should be as many Democrats working on K Street representing corporate America as there are Republicans working in organized labor—and that number is close to zero.” Norquist credited Abramoff—who was later convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy charges in a far-reaching political scandal—with “instigating the whole [K Street] project.”

In 1995, Norquist was hired by communist strongman France-Albert René—who ruled Seychelles from 1977 to 2004—to lobby before Congress. Asked how he could have a communist ruler who had been accused of human rights abuses as a client, Norquist stated that René (who took control of Seychelles in 1977 after a coup against the ruling Seychelles Democratic Party) was “a guy who preferred to not have elections for a number of years,” and said of René’s human rights record, “there were one or two people who people were suspected done in. But it was always fairly murky.” René was accused of employing systematic torture and other human rights abuses against political opponents, and in 1985 opposition leader Gérard Hoarau was assassinated in London. While René denied involvement in the assassination, he admitted to bugging Hoarau’s telephone and to listening in on Hoarau’s last phone call. During the phone call Hoarau changed the time of a doctor’s appointment. He then left his home and was assassinated while standing on his doorstep. British police later identified the murder weapon as the same type of gun used by the Seychelles police.

According to The Nation magazine, “During the second half of the 1980s, Norquist detoured from his tax work to engage in a series of safaris to far-off battlegrounds in support of anti-Soviet guerrilla armies, visiting war zones from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to southern Africa. Working alongside Col. Oliver North's freelance support network for the Nicaraguan contras and other Reagan Doctrine-allied insurgencies, Norquist promoted U.S. support for groups like Mozambique's RENAMO and Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in Angola, both of which were backed by South Africa's apartheid regime (Norquist represented UNITA as a registered lobbyist in the early 1990s).” In June 1985, Norquist—with the help of (now convicted) Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff—organized a “conference of worldwide insurgent leaders called the Democracy International.” The conference was located in Angolan territory held by UNITA. Attendees included mujahedeen from Afghanistan.

Norquist made regular visits to UNITA controlled territory during the 1980s. Although now a legitimate political party in Angola, the United States Department of Homeland Security has characterized UNITA from 1998 until the killing of Savimbi in 2002 by Angolan government forces as a terrorist organization. During this time period, Human Rights Watch described UNITA as “a rebel group led by Jonas Savimbi, [that] killed, abducted, and terrorized civilians with impunity.” The United States Institute of Peace wrote, “Savimbi is indeed responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity.” UNITA employed child soldiers throughout the Angolan Civil War, including during the time that Norquist was a registered lobbyist for the organization. Norquist ties to Savimbi were close, and he admitted to ghostwriting a number of op-eds for Savimbi during the 1980s promoting UNITA’s war against Soviet-backed MPLA. He even wore a UNITA issued uniform while visiting Angola, but admitting to taking it off when fighting broke out.

Norquist also supported RENAMO, an insurgent group accused of killing over 1,000,000 civilians in Mozambique. After Norquist visited RENAMO-held territory in 1987, he wrote a report praising RENAMO for calling for free elections and the free practice of religion, while falsely accusing RENAMO’s opponents of anti-Semitism. Norquist even met with President Ronald Reagan and urged him to support RENAMO, but the administration declined to aid RENAMO’s cause because of the group’s human rights record.

In 1981, Norquist served as campaign manager for corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s successful campaign to become chairman of the National College Republicans.

Ted Nugent (Board Member)

In a July 26, 2012 op-ed for the Washington Times, Nugent wrote, “Fedzilla is growing fatter, less accountable and less transparent by gorging itself on our tax dollars. Instead of tightening Fedzilla’s fiscal belt, government bureaucrats just buy him bigger belts and suspenders, and he gets fatter and smellier each day. The only good pig is a dead pig. Regrettably, there are way too many intellectually stunted Americans who support this gluttonous and irresponsible spending curse. They are called socialists. Socialists believe in Keynesian economics, which supports government control and meddling in our economy … It’s akin to Jerry Sandusky managing a little boys’ football team. Another, more accurate name for Keynesian economics is Kamikaze economics.” Keynesian economics are based on the ideas of 20th century economist John Maynard Keynes. Advocates of Keynesian economics argue that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes which require active policy responses by the public sector. Nugent also made reference to Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State University who was convicted of sexually abusing ten boys during a 15-year period. Finally, Nugent described fellow NRA board member Grover Norquist as “The Dirty Harry of tax and government reform.” “Dirty Harry Norquist, president of Americans For Tax Reform, has never seen a tax increase he supports,” wrote Nugent, “which should immediately put him at the head of the line for a Presidential Medal of Freedom once Mitt Romney is elected. If there was a Hall of Fame of Common Sense, a huge statue of Grover Norquist would at be the front door.” ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” calls on lawmakers to swear to never vote for any legislation that would raises taxes, no matter how modestly.

Todd Rathner (Board Member)

On August 8, 2011, Rathner tweeted, “Recovering and catching up after ALEC in Nawlins. It was fun to see all my fellow lobbyists and legislator friends.” The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was founded by conservative stalwart Paul Weyrich in 1973 and provides model legislation to politicians. While ostensibly a nonpartisan organization, the model legislation offered by ALEC promotes only a conservative agenda. According to The Nation, “ALEC’s priorities for the 2011 session included bills to privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, [and] pass voter ID laws.”

Just weeks after the January 8, 2011 shooting rampage in Tuscon that left six dead and 13 wounded, Rathner lobbied aggressively in the Arizona legislature to have the Colt single action Army revolver declared the state’s official firearm. The legislation was widely criticized, including by lawmakers (Republican state Senator Adam Driggs called the legislation an “advertisement for Colt”) and Native Americans with the Navajo Nation, who said the Colt was a tool used by white settlers to push them off their ancestral lands. "If you want to symbolize something and shove that something...in their faces, this is what it is," said Albert Hale, an ex-Navajo president. "The gun symbolized the extinction of those Indians who were here." The bill was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in April 2011.

On December 3, 2010, Rathner tweeted, “Looks like Campus Carry will be a big issue in AZ this year. Maybe people in these defenseless vicitms [sic] zones will now have some protection.” He was referring to SB 1467, a bill that sought to force the states’ public colleges and universities to allow students and faculty to carry guns on their campuses. After being amended substantially, the bill was passed by the Arizona state legislature and sent to Republican Governor Jan Brewer. She vetoed the legislation on April 18, 2011, however, calling the bill “poorly written.” Among those who opposed SB 1467 were the following: the Arizona Board of Regents; the presidents and chiefs of police of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University, and; the Joint Council of Presidents of Arizona’s public community colleges and universities. "Guns have no place in schools," said Arizona State University President Michael Crow.

As a result of Rathner’s efforts on behalf of the knife lobby, there are now no restrictions on the carrying of knives in Arizona and local municipalities are prohibited from enacting their own knife regulations. Even openly carrying a samurai sword in public is now legal in Arizona.

Wayne Anthony Ross (Board Member)

In April 2008, Ross emailed then-Governor Sarah Palin to ask for “a personal favor.” Ross wanted the governor to get Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to issue a permit to a construction company owned by his friend, Rex Close. DNR had initially denied the permit because of environmental concerns (Close wanted to place an asphalt plant in the flood plain of a river). Palin had Randall Ruaro, her special assistant, look into the matter. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Transportation (DOT) helped Close appeal the permit denial. DOT officials told Palin’s staff that they were “very confident” the appeal would be successful. Palin told a staffer that she “really couldn't follow all that Ross was requesting help on” but had her staff work to assist him nonetheless.

Rep. Don Young (Board Member)

Fraser Verrusio, hired by Young to work on the House Transportation Committee that he chaired, was convicted of accepting an illegal gratuity and other crimes in February 2011. While working as a policy director, Verrusio received gifts— including an all-expenses paid trip to the 2003 World Series—from a client of Jack Abramoff’s lobbying firm that had business before the committee.

A June 8, 2007 fundraising email sent by Young’s chief of staff to 27 supporters in Alaska—23 of whom were lobbyists—warned that “you and your clients will be impacted by [the results of Young’s 2008 congressional reelection campaign].” The email generated at least $90,000 in fundraising for Young’s campaign.

In April 2007, Mark Zachares, a former top aide to Young, pled guilty to bribery charges in connection to the Jack Abramoff scandal. Zachares accepted thousands of dollars in illegal gratuities from Abramoff in exchange for using his employment on two subcommittees chaired by Young to advance Abramoff’s interests.

A 2007 guide for interns in Young’s Washington office distributed by paid staff suggested that interns allow an “A Team” of nine transportation lobbyists to “talk to whomever they want” when they called the office. When anyone else called the office, including other Members of Congress, interns were to check with the relevant staffer before putting the call through.

In 2005, Young secured a $10 million earmark for the improvement of Coconut Road, a street that runs near Fort Myers, Florida. The Republican House Member responsible for the area where Coconut Road is located did not request the funds. Local planning officials rejected the federal money three separate times because they did not want to undertake the project. The connection of the street to Interstate 75 would have been a windfall to developer Daniel Aronoff, who owned a large amount of land near the expansion project. Aronoff, whose lobbyist was to be put directly through to staff whenever he called Young’s office, helped raise $40,000 for Young at a February 2005 fundraiser. Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah (a Republican) stated, “It would appear that Don Young was doing a favor for a major contributor.” Beyond accusations of “pay-to-play” on the part of Young and Aronoff, the Coconut Road project was controversial for a number of other reasons. Environmentalists alleged that the project would threaten protected areas. In 2008, the Senate voted 63-29 to ask the Department of Justice to investigate Young because the earmark was inserted after the bill was finalized by Congress. When a reporter approached Young to discuss the Coconut Road allegations, he responded with an obscene gesture.

In September 2002, Young’s PAC received $12,000 from Native American tribes who were clients of (later-convicted) lobbyist Jack Abramoff after he wrote a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA) asking that they receive preferential treatment in the development of the Old Post Pavilion in Washington, D.C.

Young repeatedly used his position as chair of the House Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001 to oppose applying United States labor and immigration laws to the Northern Mariana Islands, a United States Commonwealth. A 1998 Department of Interior report documented widespread human rights abuses associated with a booming sweatshop industry on the islands (clothing made on the islands carries a “Made in USA” label). The report found that women and children immigrant workers were subjected to forced
abortions, sex slavery, and substandard pay and working conditions
. Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) expressed outrage after personally meeting individuals forced to work without pay and engage in acts of prostitution and became a strong proponent of reform. In 1995 and again in 2000, Young allowed bills (which were unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate) that would have improved conditions for these workers to die in the House Resources Committee. Later-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff took credit for the failure of the 2000 reform bill, saying “We then stopped it cold in the House.” Between 1994 and 2001, Abramoff was paid $11 million by the Northern Mariana Islands government to lobby in opposition of these reforms. During one 25-month period, Abramoff employees had over 120 contacts with Young or his staff concerning the Northern Mariana Islands. When term limits forced Young to step down as chair of the House Resources Committee, Abramoff wrote the Northern Mariana Island’s anti-reform governor to say, “The loss of Chairman Young's authority cannot easily be measured—or replaced ... We have lost major institutional memory and friendship.” Mark Zachares, who later worked as an aide for Young before pleading guilty to conspiracy as part of the Abramoff lobbying scandal, served as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Labor and Immigration from 1998 to 2002—during the time that Young blocked immigration and labor reform.

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