The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm sent a blistering letter to NRA members last week, attacking a top so-called “dissident” ex-donor for “abandon[ing] the only organization capable” of protecting his Second Amendment rights.
The letter names David Dell’Aquila, a top-dollar NRA donor who has been running a surreal campaign to convince the organization’s elderly membership to write the gun group out of their last wills and testaments. Dell’Aquila sees the effort as a way to pressure NRA leadership – including longtime chief Wayne LaPierre – into either launching deep management reforms or into resigning.
NRA leadership fired back at Dell’Aquila in the Aug. 29 letter, titled “How Much Are David Dell’Aquila’s Gun Rights Worth?”
The answer, apparently, is “whatever it takes to defeat the anti-gun agitators and enemies of the Second Amendment.”
“David Dell’Aquila’s gun rights are worth whatever NRA has to spend to protect his gun rights — because his gun rights are the same as YOURS and MINE,” the letter, written by former NRA president and current lobbyist Marion Hammer, reads.
In the fundraising appeal, Hammer went on to cite LaPierre’s recent phone sessions with President Donald Trump, asking if anyone could possibly believe that “any of the dissidents or their leaders get a call from the President of the United States?”
“Does anybody believe [anti-NRA gun activists] even have a clue what to do on Capitol Hill?” the letter reads. “Absolutely not, they can’t even hold Wayne LaPierre’s coat.”
Among other things, Dell’Aquila has drawn attention to allegations that the NRA billed expenses for luxury suits for LaPierre through its longtime advertising partner, Ackerman McQueen.
In a response letter obtained by TPM, Dell’Aquila thanked Hammer for “so prominently repeating my name in your recent fundraising appeal.”
Dell’Aquila went on in his reply to cite the salary that Hammer draws from the NRA as head of United Sportsmen of Florida – the NRA’s Sunshine State affiliate.
“Would these payments have something to do with your current vigorous defense of Wayne LaPierre, and his open-purse spending practices at the NRA?” Dell’Aquila wrote. “This would appear to be a conflict of interest, regarding any Board vote concerning Mr. LaPierre’s continued stewardship of the organization.”
The exchange comes days after the NRA decided to move a series of September board meetings scheduled to be held in Alaska to Washington D.C. The Alaska meetings have long been a sticking point for Dell’Aquila, who has described the location as extravagant and unnecessary.
Hammer cited the move in her fundraising appeal, saying that impending gun control hearings by “Anti-Gun Democrats in Congress” were timed to “take advantage of Wayne LaPierre, NRA Board members and key NRA staff members being in Alaska.”
“If they are in Alaska, it would make it impossible for NRA’s officers and senior staff to be engaged in the fight for your rights in the nation’s capital,” the letter reads.
Hammer added in the fundraising appeal that she had just made a “donation to help Wayne [LaPierre] protect David Dell’Aquila’s gun rights and yours and mine.”
“I invite you to do the same thing,” she wrote.