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Part of an effort to get spending in line at a time when dues are down

Tim Nelson
November 20, 2018

As someone who made the transition from working in an office to working from home last year, I’ll admit that there’s one thing I miss: the never-ending flow of free coffee. Though once a kind of “nice to have” differentiator, the right to unlimited caffeine is now essential to maintaining a well-regulated workplace, and should not be infringed. If it disappears due to budgetary concerns, you can bet that things are looking dire.

That’s exactly what’s happening over at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association. The Trace reports that last week staffers in their Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters were losing their minds over the disappearance of their precious java. “The whole building was freaking out,” said one former employee with connections to the current staff.

The lack of coffee is symptomatic of a funding crisis for the controversial lobbying organization. In the wake of high-profile mass shootings that inspired pushback from both members of Congress and grassroots organizations, revenue from membership dues declined by $35 million in 2017.

In turn, that’s had an impact on election spending. The NRA drastically curtailed its giving during the 2018 midterm cycle, handing out less than $10 million in total to campaigns for and against House and Senate candidates. That’s half of what they shelled out in the 2016 and 2014 election cycles, and they were actually outspent by pro-gun control groups in the most recent midterms.

The Trace says the coffee cutbacks can be traced back to Josh Powell, the NRA’s executive director for general operations. It sounds like he’s trying to close the funding gap by both streamlining operations (i.e. cutting the organization’s six publications down to one) and examining every expense—even ones as crucial as coffee.

So will the lack of coffee derail the NRA, or at least get them to calm down? Is this all a desperate ploy to get gun nuts to give them the funding they need to stay caffeinated? Given that the constitution doesn’t guarantee a right to workplace coffee, they may just be out luck.  

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