By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
When is a registered lobbyist not a lobbyist? If powerful NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer gets her way, it’s when she says so.
Hammer has been the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist since at least 2006, yet despite being paid handsomely – $270,000 last year alone – she hasn’t filed with the Florida Senate any of the quarterly compensation reports that lobbyists are required to file.
Florida Bulldog first reported that apparent lack of compliance in May. Later that month two state legislators – Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, D-Orlando – filed formal complaints with the State Ethics Commission and Senate and House oversight authorities seeking investigations.
Since then, the Florida Senate has flouted its own rules regarding how to conduct such an investigation, steering the matter for “review” to an obscure office under the Senate president that processes lobbyist registrations. The review is being handled by Office of Legislative Services General Counsel Audrey Moore, who has declined to comment on its status to a reporter.
Sen. Thurston, however, said this week that Moore told him that she spoke with Hammer and that Hammer “was indicating that she was a consultant and not a lobbyist” and therefore was not required to file lobbyist compensation reports.
Thurston said Hammer was asked to supply her contracts with the NRA, but that Hammer replied she did not have them. Moore told Thurston the NRA had until Aug. 14 to supply them. The NRA has asked for an extension to Aug. 23.
Asked for comment, Hammer declined. Moore told Thurston that Hammer, a past NRA president and current NRA board member, has offered to submit an affidavit regarding her consulting contracts with the NRA.
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer
Hammer is the NRA’s only registered lobbyist in Florida, where she is also registered to lobby for the NRA nonprofit affiliate, Unified Sportsmen of Florida.
Hammer’s 2018 compensation from the NRA was disclosed in an April 27 report listing various payments made to NRA board members and staff for “goods or service” that was handed out to NRA members at the association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis and obtained by Florida Bulldog.
“Ms. Marion Hammer, executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, received $270,000 for consulting services and legislative lobbying in Florida,” says the report by the NRA secretary.
Another internal NRA report dated May 5, 2018 and presented to members at last year’s NRA annual gathering in Dallas, says Hammer was paid $134,000 in 2017 “for legislative lobbying in Florida.”
Other payments listed in NRA tax returns show that Hammer received $147,000 in 2014, $172,000 in 2015 and $206,000 in 2016. The total for the three years: $525,000. For each of those years, the NRA reported that Hammer worked an average of five hours per week. None of those payments was reported to state lobbyist regulators.
While Hammer is the registered lobbyist for both Unified Sportsmen and the NRA, she is an employee of Unified Sportsmen, where the group’s tax returns list her annual salary as $110,000. In contrast, the internal NRA report describes board member Hammer as a “consultant and legislative lobbyist.” Consultants are not employees.
Florida law requires lobbying firms, defined to include individual contract lobbyists like Hammer who are paid fees for their services, to register and file reports for each calendar quarter disclosing their total compensation from clients. The disclosures are not specific, but are made in various ranges, for example, from $50,000 to $99,999.
Employees who do in-house lobbying for their employer, as Hammer does for Unified Sportsmen, are generally not required to register or file compensation reports. Hammer, however, is registered to lobby for Unified Sportsmen.
Failure to file timely compensation reports can be assessed $50 per day per report for each late day, up to $5,000 per report.
Hammer is under scrutiny at a difficult time for the NRA and her political allies there, notably longtime executive director Wayne LaPierre.
In May, leaked internal NRA documents detailed allegations of improper spending by LaPierre, including about $14,000 to pay the rent for an apartment in Fairfax, VA, near NRA headquarters for NRA summer intern Megan Allen and nearly $275,000 on designer clothing and thousands more on luxury travel to The Bahamas and Europe.
The NRA and LaPierre have since shut down costly NRATV. Several board members have quit. And the NRA’s tax exempt status has come under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
Arthur Kirby / August 15, 2019 1:15 pm
First, I truly love the Florida Bulldog publication. That said, I love Marion Hammer more. If nobody else will stick up for her, I will!
First, people need to understanding, Ms Hammer doesn’t advocate for just us common folk who want to own guns and be left alone in peace. Ms. Hammer also sticks up for kids. Look it up! You won’t find a stronger advocate for the rights of children. PERIOD
Second, what makes her a strong advocate is experience. Ms. Hammer indeed knows the “system.” To suggest she has some unfair advantage is disingenuous. She’s paid her dues! When some of the less experienced crybabies get their battle scars, they *might* be able to step to her… *might*… And then you’d better be ready for a fight, which is exactly what these antagonist, anti-gun liberals are going to get.
Also, and I really find it odd that the Bulldog isn’t giving equal time to this, it’s not incumbent upon the person / people to insure compliance. It is the responsibility of the House and Senate, and those occupying the the positions of legislative authority, to insure they are dealing with political entities properly. The ethics and matters of law are placed on the elected leadership, not the free citizens – paid or otherwise. – Ask for or require what they will. Every person has the right to speak and participate in the governing process. In fact, it’s our individual obligation as Americans, with or without a piece of paper! If it’s not asked for, BAD ON **THEM**!!!
Last, and very much not least, I praise Ms. Hammer for her work upholding the freedoms contained within the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution. I will stand with her to push back ALL attempts to change Florida gun laws any farther left. Not one more inch! I say this to every Floridian. There are literally millions of legal law abiding gun owners. You don’t see them running around cheering “YEA, PULSE!” “YEA Parkland!”. Many mourn losses right along side those who suffered tragic loss!! That said, what many are seeking only endeavors to *harm* those law abiding millions who have done nothing wrong! We are not criminals, nor will we allow others – liberal, conservative or moderate – to treat us as such. Disagreement does not equal hate. Please do not mistake kindness or benevolence for weakness. It’s *not* hate that motivates. It’s the love of peaceful American freedom that motivates our resolve. We pro-gun types welcome the opportunity to talk about mental health, security for all of our kids at schools and elsewhere! Just take firearms off the table and out of the dialog, unless it pertains to enforcement of existing laws which already govern much of the rhetoric the uninformed public refuses to believe, or investigate for themselves.
Coming full circle, I don’t care if some rule says Marion Hammer should have filed a piece of paper somewhere. It’s apparent someone in a position of authority was fully aware and consented. What I do care about are those fighting *civilly* for the freedoms that protect *everyone* the right to make choices for themselves – peacefully and freely.
Nancy Argenziano / August 15, 2019 2:38 pm
She’s a lobbyist and lobbied me and my colleagues while I served in the he legislature so let’s cut the crap. She is subject to the Sam laws as all others that lobby. The Senate is lead by Republicans and they don’t feel everyone is subject to eh law, especially if they get tons of cash from them.
Marion Hammer lies to the members of NRA and she knows it. I was rated by the NRA, especially after my Committee, which I was Chair , brought up the very controversial Stand you ground bill. Even leadership wasn’t pushing it at that time because so many members were shaking in their boots as it was not politically safe to vote in that bill that time. As Chair I brought it up in my Committee before the end of session so my members could debate it, change it , vote it up or down. I had served in the house, then in the senate and had always had a good rating from. The NRA has, I had been since the 70s a competitive shooter and had guns, always have me high ratings. She would not have passed that bilL that session if I had no brought up that bill. One can get the videos or transcripts, to show I speak the truth. Then because I had other problems with what. The R leadership was doing in other areas and felt nit only that they were not a Republicans platform or they were just downright criminal , devastating to the people of Florid or just plain lies that would hurt the State and her people, R leadership had to get rid of me and when I ran again, a guy who never was elected never cast a vote on anything none the less a gun bill, they gave him a A+ , the NRA, because R leadership wanted me gone, the NRA lies to their members by dropping my rating in their report card to its members dropped my A+ to an A. That was done on purpose to help the R leadership lie, cheat and steal fro Floridians. I confronted Marion and told her Lying to her members is the lowest thing she could do. So my take on Marion, I she needs to own up to her lobbyist status, be glD she had made all the money and resign. Oh sure despite the 5rolls at will jump on this and smear me. First I am so confident in. Who I am and the integrity I served with and let them post. Bu this is for the real people I served in the 13 county district I served who were the largest NRA membership in the state. Mi want them to know how the NRA manipulated them and how they lied in that report card and many others that I have checked on for others that served. No excuses will suffice as my record on gun is votes is well recorded. And yes, I think we passed a flawed Stand your Ground Bill because we were given BS analysis. It needs reworking.
Nancy Argenziani / August 15, 2019 2:41 pm
Sorry I used voice recognition and errors came about as I had to make it fast. But I am sure you get the meaning . If I could edit, I would.
Rob Pincus / August 15, 2019 3:02 pm
Par for the Course.
Savethe2a.org is trying to help the NRA Reform.
JoAnn Martin / August 22, 2019 7:31 pm
If the NRA and the gun lobbyist did not interfere and have the gun control removed that we had going back after the killing of Robert Kennedy, we would not have assoult weapons on the streets, assoult weapons are not hunting weapons and it is a joke if they are used as target weapons, The NRA as to much to say and has to much money to infulance our politicions, they should spend there time on coming up with a solution on how to stop The shooting of our men, women and children each day in this country. It’s a shame that both Trump and LaPiere come up with the most dumbest statement that gun don’t kill people, people kill people, well if the guns we’re not in the hands and redaly available to children, the mental I’ll, heavy drinkers, races, and people that are brain washed to there 2 amendment rights, the 2 amendment was radified in 1781 to protect White slave owners from a slave rebellion, you were required to muster for training, arms were inspected and registered, free blacks, women, Indians, under 16 and over 60 couldn’t bear arms, arms were not permitted in public places, they were flintlock and muskets, only loaded weapons could be in your home. Who owned most of the slaves our for Father’s. The pacussion cap weapons were invited by Alexander Forsyth for the British government only they contracted Colt to manufacture this weapons for the British only, Colt had no Right to sell them in the US. It’s time that both the NRA and our politicions work together to remove Assoult weapons from our streets and to incorporate background checks, it’s also time to stop passing the bull from one to the other.