Yesterday Dave Workman, the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner and frequently a proxy for Alan Gottlieb, announced that Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) has been added as a sponsor of a planned January 15 rally in Olympia, Washington, to oppose Bloomberg’s tragically successful Initiative 594. This rally is already supported (and apparently largely spearheaded) by Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, JPFO’s new owner.
This is interesting on two counts.
Why try to undermine the December rally?
First, the Gottlieb-promoted rally is clearly intended to steal thunder (and attendance) from another rally planned for this Saturday, December 13. Saturday’s rally has had tons of support from the day it was announced and will feature Mike Vanderboegh, Sheriff Richard Mack, and Ammon Bundy as speakers.
Gottlieb’s complaint against the December rally seems to be only that the legislature won’t be in session then. (Although the idea that Saturday’s rally is expressly for disobeying the law also seems to set a certain “conservative” element to tsking — as if we should obey tyrants as long as tyranny is imposed by vote.) So, just in advance of the December rally, he sets out to undermine it.
You’d think he would learn. In this year’s state elections, instead of opposing Bloomberg’s ghastly plan with all his efforts, Gottlieb set up his own competing initiative, I-591, and put all his energies — and money — into that.
So a million dollars that could have gone to fighting I-594 went down the drain of I-591 instead. (I-591 lost.)
Yes, you’d think Gottlieb would learn that “divide to win” isn’t good electoral or legislative strategy. Yet Workman’s article drips with contempt for Saturday’s effort and goes out of its way to point out reasons why attendance might be low.
That’s the first count on which the Gottlieb-supported January rally is “interesting.”
Doesn’t Gottlieb understand what JPFO is?
The second count is JPFO’s involvement.
The stated purpose of the January rally is to be “the first 2015 Legislative Rally against I-594 and other bad gun laws.” Note well: it’s a legislative rally. Workman elaborates: “[T]he Jan. 15 rally – when the Legislature will be in town – will allow citizens a chance to personally lobby lawmakers.” Note well: it’s for lobbying. Following the public portion of the rally, citizens will even be escorted to legislators’ offices. Note well: That’s an integral part of the event.
And JPFO is supporting this?
But JPFO is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. It is absolutely forbidden to engage in lobbying or any other form of “political” activity. It cannot oppose or advocate for any specific laws. It can’t take any electoral stance. It’s forbidden by its very nature from even saying something like, “Write to your legislator to demand the repeal of …”
JPFO’s only legal role is educational. It can shout to the rooftops about why the state’s new law is stupid and dangerous and a violation of fundamental rights. But lobby legislators or even encourage others to do so??? Let alone sponsor a rally whose sole, stated purpose is to connect gun owners with legislators. This is totally outside of what the IRS allows JPFO to do. (That link also claims that JPFO has only recently “expanded their mission to include research and education.” Which is as silly as it is bogus. Research and education has been JPFO’s sole mission from the beginning.)
Don’t get me wrong. I think I-594 should be fought with everything Washington state gun owners have to give. I don’t oppose the January rally. Let there be rallies, letters, lobbying, protests, and defiance aplenty until I-594 is stomped into the Pacific Northwest mud. But organizers of the January rally shouldn’t be trying to undermine the December event with the timing of their announcements or their subtle sneers.
And after lying fallow for months following Gottlieb’s take-over (other than continuing daily email alerts, there’s been no sign of activity from JPFO), JPFO’s first public mission should not be to destroy itself by participating in lobbying.
This will only put JPFO in the IRS’s eye and risk destroying everything Aaron Zelman worked to build.