The news came three weeks after the potential acquisition of the financially troubled Jewish organization was leaked by former staffer Claire Wolfe. Under the terms of the merger, Wisconsin-based JPFO, will remain nominally independent from the much larger SAF, but will share common goals and web presence.
“We’re both delighted and proud to announce this merger,” said SAF founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb in a release from the Bellevue, Washington-based group Thursday. “JPFO was founded 25 years ago by the late Aaron Zelman, and it has become a strong voice in defense of the Second Amendment. I’m personally confident that bringing JPFO into the SAF extended family will benefit firearms owners at many levels.”
The two groups have agreed to let JPFO continue its operations as a stand-alone entity independent of the 650,000-member SAF with its own separate board of directors. The JPFO website will remain a presence in the Second Amendment community, but will include backlinks to SAF and its companion sites. Indeed, the group’s social media account began carrying announcements for SAF’s upcoming 29th Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference late Thursday afternoon.
In a statement posted by JPFO on its website, the group shed some light on the struggle to maintain their head above water since the passing of founder Aaron Zelman in 2010. While the group admitted that efforts of inventory control, revamping operations and rebuilding its fundraising drives to expand its membership, that was not enough to keep the highly specialized organization on track.
“However, all along was the paradox that as a skeletal crew of fiercely devoted workers salvaged and refined after Aaron’s passing, the Stalking Horse of poor cash flow was always there,” read the statement signed by the JPFO Board of Directors. “We came to realize that JPFO needed one or more major supporters to break through to the next level. Many inquiries yielded nil, it became clear that the most logical and efficient solution was to ally with another 2A organization, while preserving our identity.”
Thursday’s announcement would seem to put an end to substitute plans, advanced by some present and former JPFO members, to keep the group fully independent.
“The JPFO board was never even going to look at any alternate proposals, let alone give them serious consideration,” wrote Wolfe in her longtime blog after the merger was made final. Wolfe and others had collected signatures, written letters, and drew attention to the pending deal without success.
“This began and ended as an act of supreme arrogance, authoritarianism, secrecy, and wholesale contempt for JPFO’s members, donors, corporate sponsors, and contractors,” concluded Wolfe.
Gottlieb advised that JPFO operations would soon be transferred from its longtime home in Wisconsin, where it was founded by Zelman in 1989, to the SAF offices in Bellevue, Washington. JPFO editorial support staff will stay on and help maintain organizational continuity, he added.