Ackerman McQueen has been the National Rifle Association’s marketing firm for over 30 years. Among other services, Ackerman produces NRATV for the NRA. All of those personalities you see in their videos such as Dana Loesch and Colion Noir work for Ackerman, not the NRA directly.
As has been widely reported, the NRA’s finances have been strained in recent years in part due to attacks from states such as New York. And now, apparently as part of an internal struggle going on within NRA HQ over Ackerman’s significant role and the huge amounts the NRA pays for their services, the long-time relationship is very much in question.
The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit accusing its longtime advertising agency Ackerman McQueen Inc. of refusing to comply with demands to justify its billings, an extraordinary public break with the gun-rights group’s largest outside partner.
The lawsuit, filed late Friday, comes amid an unusual battle unfolding behind the scenes at the NRA’s 76-member board, which some say pits a small group of pro-Ackerman McQueen directors against other board members and an outside NRA attorney.
The dispute in part is about how the NRA, with an annual budget of more than $300 million, is spending money during a period when its finances have been tight. The NRA ran at a deficit in its two most recently reported years.
As the WSJ notes, Ackerman is the NRA’s largest vendor, billing the gun rights org over $42 million in 2017. As for Ackerman’s side of the story . . .
The lawsuit is “frivolous, inaccurate and intended to cause harm to the reputation of our company,” Ackerman McQueen said in a statement. “We will defend our position and performance aggressively and look forward to continuing to serve the NRA’s membership.”
That seems…questionable. If you’re suing a company that refuses to reconcile its billings, how long will you continue to use their services?
In the lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court in Alexandria, Va., the NRA said Ackerman McQueen was obliged to provide access to records underlying its bills. But since the middle of 2018, it said the NRA’s requests for such documents had been met with partial compliance or “rebuffed or baldly ignored…This situation cannot continue.” …
The NRA said in the lawsuit it had sought information on how well NRATV was faring, but claimed Ackerman McQueen refused to provide the NRA with certain requested data in writing, such as unique visitors, “that enable the NRA [to] analyze the return on its investment in NRATV.”
But the story is, well, complicated.
In a Shakespearean twist, the outside NRA lawyer spearheading the lawsuit, (William A.) Brewer, is related to Ackerman McQueen’s two top officials, who are his brother-in-law and father-in-law.
Ackerman McQueen said it told the NRA three months ago that the family relationship meant that Mr. Brewer had an “irreconcilable conflict of interest” and that he had “demonstrated, in words and deeds, his animus” for the company and those family members.
There is considerable sniping going on within the NRA board, with members taking pro- and anti-Ackerman sides, with some who support Ackerman questioning Brewer’s fees. His firm is also handling the high profile suit against the state of New York and the gangster-style moves they’ve made to persuade financial firms to drop the NRA.
Watch this space.