NRA dumps longtime Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, halts hundreds of thousands in payments flowing to her

Gun Rights
NRA
Marion Hammer

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

No one seems to agree on the actual origin of the idiom, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” But it’s nonetheless useful to describe what just happened to longtime National Rifle Association Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer.

On Monday, Hammer, who turns 85 Friday, fired off an email to her associate, NRA general counsel and corporate secretary John Frazer, with a most unexpected subject line: “NRA has dumped me.”

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The email quickly leaked to John Richardson, who operates the blog “No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money.”

“Today [Interim NRA CEO and Executive Vice President] Andrew Arulanandam called me and terminated my retirement contract with NRA,” Hammer wrote. “Earlier, Randy Kozuch, ED-ILA [Executive Director of the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action] suddenly quit providing grants to pay my monthly salary (last December 2023). That leaves me totally without employment or retirement income.”

NRA Interim CEO and Executive Vice President Andrew Arulanandam

Well, maybe not.

The NRA’s Frazer, in a sworn deposition taken in July 2022 during the New York attorney general’s anti-corruption litigation against the NRA, stated that in fact Hammer received three income streams from the NRA.  The biggest was a 10-year, $220,000 annual consulting contract signed in 2018 – what Hammer described as her “retirement” contract; another $50,000 annual consulting contract with NRA-ILA; and another $260,000 a year in grants to Unified Sportsmen of Florida (USF), a nonprofit NRA affiliate where Hammer serves as executive director. [Other documentation states that $260,000 figure is actually $216,000.]

AN ENORMOUS LOSS

Hammer, however, appears not to collect all of that $260,000 or $216,000. Her annual salary, laundered through grants to Unified Sportsmen of Florida where she is executive director, is listed on USF’s federal tax returns as $110,000. That still all adds up to $380,000 a year – an enormous loss.

Hammer, a former NRA president and current unpaid board member, isn’t commenting.

NRA
Marion Hammer watches as Gov. Jeb Bush signs the Stand Your Ground bill into law in 2005.

Over the decades, Hammer earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for the Second Amendment. She conceived tough new pro-gun laws and then persuaded Florida’s legislators and governors to enact them. Her ideas, and the laws they inspired, spread across large swaths of the country like wildfire.

When the group announced her retirement as a lobbyist in June 2022, it was news across the state. She was to remain on as an “advisor.”

Even at her advanced age, Hammer remains active – in the NRA and the public sphere. In early January, she wrote an opinion piece for the Tallahassee Democrat with the provocative headline “What exactly is an ‘assault weapon’ ”? On March 14, she registered Unified Sportsmen as an active corporation for another year.

She also appears to be fighting with NRA’s current top leadership.

WHO TOOK HAMMER OUT?

On Jan. 29, blogger Richardson posted another email she sent to the group’s board that day calling for a search committee to find a replacement for Wayne LaPierre, the group’s longtime CEO and executive vice president.

(LaPierre resigned suddenly as jury selection was underway in the New York attorney general’s anti-corruption case against the NRA, LaPierre, Frazer, former chief financial officer Wilson Phillips and ex-chief of staff Joshua Powell. On Feb. 23, a jury found that the NRA, a nonprofit, had failed to properly administer charitable funds and violated state laws protecting whistleblowers.

NRA President Charles Cotton, left, and counsel William Brewer

 (LaPierre and Phillips were found liable for financial misconduct. LaPierre was ordered to pay $4.35 million, Phillips $2 million. Frazer and the NRA were also found liable for making false statements on the NRA’s regulatory filings.)

Blogger Richardson wrote that NRA President Charles Cotton and counsel William Brewer were upset about Hammer’s call for a search committee and called Hammer’s January email “a shot across the bow of those who were trying to install Cotton” as LaPierre’s successor.

Richardson followed up with this thought when he published Hammer’s email to Frazer on Tuesday about being dumped. “I sincerely doubt that [Andrew] Arulanandam unilaterally made this decision on his own. It leaves me to wonder if this was Bill Brewer’s doing or whether NRA President Charles Cotton was behind this. It could have been the two in combination.”

MORE FROM HAMMER’S MONDAY EMAIL

NRA Counsel John Frazer

Whatever is going on behind the scenes, here’s what Hammer told Frazer in her Monday email:

“I was hired by NRA in September 1978 by NRA CEO Harlon Carter [chief of the U.S. Border Patrol 1950-57] and the NRA Executive Director of ILA. Over 45 years ago I was instructed to set up and run Unified Sportsmen of Florida (USF) as the Florida arm of the NRA and to also lobby for USF/NRA. I was promised that a grant would be provided to USF to pay my salary as long as I was employed by USF.

“Every ED-ILA since then has honored that promise. Until last year when Randy Kozuch broke that promise and simply quit providing the grant to pay my monthly salary. He didn’t fire me, he just quit paying me.

“In other words, I have not had a monthly paycheck since November 2023.

“Nonetheless, I have continued to work for NRA and train the NRA designated replacement lobbyist. Who, by-the-way, is a fine young man [William Kelby Seanor] and who works for Randy Kozuch, and to my knowledge, is not a part of this.

“I have survived on the retirement income contract that [former NRA CEO and executive vice president] Wayne LaPierre put in place for me in 2018.

Wayne LaPierre

A RETIREMENT CONTRACT?

“Today, April 22, 2024, Andrew Arulanandam, with Vanessa Shahidi in the room, called and informed me that he had decided to terminate the retirement contract that Wayne LaPierre put in place for me in 2018.

“The 10-year contract was actually a replacement for the NRA retirement program which I had not been allowed to participate in.  The contract (with 4 years remaining) was to provide retirement income since I had never been included in NRA’s retirement program.”

Hammer, however, was never an NRA employee. Rather, she was an independent contractor. Her contracts, including a one-year contract for $168,000 signed in December 2017 and an addendum signed four months later that raised her annual payout to $220,000 for 10 years, were for a variety of specified tasks not retirement benefits.

Her bitter email continues:

“I have faithfully served NRA and NRA members for well over 40 years. As of today, I am no longer being compensated for the work NRA hired me to do.  I have not been fired, they have just quit paying me. 

“I just thought you’d like to know what those in charge are doing to those who have faithfully served NRA and our cause.

“Bottom line, as of today, I have no employment income and no retirement income.

“Later this week (April 26th) I’ll be 85 years old.  So much for over 40 years of dedicated service and work for NRA.

“Respectfully, Marion P. Hammer”

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