Gun Rights Supporters:

If you’ve been on a farm, you know the floor of the barn is covered with more than just hay. Well hold your nose, because that fertilizer is now being spread by a popular and ostensibly conservative online publication known as “The Daily Haymaker.”

Last weekend, the Haymaker started criticizing the recommendation made by GRNC’s political action committee, the GRNC Political Victory Fund, in favor of Rep. Michael Speciale in the 3rd Congressional special primary election. As you may recall, Speciale has sponsored numerous pro-gun bills in his four terms in the NC House, more than earning the GRNC-PVF recommendation.

Why is ‘Haymaker’ bashing GRNC?

The plot thickened when Brant Clifton of the Haymaker not only rebuffed my attempts to clarify what I assumed to be simple confusion between objective GRNC candidate evaluations and more analytical GRNC Political Victory Fund candidate recommendations, but actually began to impugn our motives for recommending Speciale.

Each attempt to point out that GRNC star evaluations are objective, mathematical measures based on voting records, survey scores, bill sponsorship, and leadership actions seemed to fall on deaf ears as the Haymaker doubled down on questioning the credibility of GRNC candidate evaluations and, by association, your highly successful organization. Every attempt I made to defuse the escalating vitriol was met with still more vitriol. Eventually, Clifton cut off my ability to make comments on his apparently deliberate misstatements, but not before refusing my offer to debate the issue on a public forum.

Frankly, I was baffled. But now it is starting to make sense as indications come in that the people behind the controversy might be the same ones who created the phony gun group calling itself “North Carolina Gun Rights” or “NCGR” (perhaps not coincidentally an anagram of “GRNC”).

NAGR & its offspring

Specifically, rumor has it that Clifton of the Haymaker is close to Reilly O’Neal of Tidewater Strategies, who has been accused of fleecing a variety of conservatives and libertarians not only in North Carolina, but also Maine and Louisiana. O’Neal’s partner in crime in forming “NCGR” is Noel Fritsch, formerly of the discredited “National Association for Gun Rights” (NAGR). Indeed, in 2017 I “outed” O’Neal, Fritsch and “NCGR” in a piece entitled, “Phony Gun Groups.” (Check the links above for examples of the various schemes O’Neal, Fritsch and NAGR have been associated with.)

By strange “coincidence,” days before the Haymaker ran its hit pieces against GRNC and Speciale, O’Neal sent several emails to me on behalf of another candidate in the 3rd District, Jeff Moore, who got a GRNC 0-star evaluation when he failed to return our candidate survey. Pointing out that Moore had the same chance as others to return the survey by April 2, I declined O’Neal’s demand that we include Moore’s late survey.

Understand that NAGR trained not only Fritsch, but reportedly also O’Neal, the latter during his tenure as campaign manager for Greg Brannon’s failed US Senate bid. So it all became clear when both NAGR and its quasi-legitimate offspring, NCGR, recently endorsed Moore in the 3rd District race, strongly suggesting all of this might be a hit operation against other candidates in the race by Dudley Brown and his National Association for Gun Rights, which is notorious for making money by beating on pro-gun candidates and other gun rights organizations by claiming they are “not pro-gun enough.”

As for NAGR, don’t take my word for it. Check “The Blaze,” or the Clarion-Ledger, describing how they were fined in Mississippi, or the Facebook page entitled, “The Truth About the National Association for Gun Rights.” Indeed, one of NAGR’s specialties is forming similarly oriented organizations in states where I can only presume they think they can make money – organizations like “North Carolina Gun Rights” and the “North Carolina Firearms Coalition” (operated by another former NAGR operative, Patrick Parsons) operating in our own state: organizations which have absolutely no significant legislative presence at the General Assembly and are by all accounts doing nothing except mailing solicitations for money and occasionally beating on pro-gun legislators. To give you a feel for the operators in question, Parsons’ forte is doing mailings designed to incite fear (and raise money) over gun control bills which either don’t exist, or are already dead.

Incidentally, it has been suggested that comments made on Clifton’s hit piece by someone identifying themselves as “Bill,” which falsely accused GRNC of being a fan of Senator Thom Tillis, were actually made by Fritsch. Having dealt with Fritsch in the past, I can say only that it would be entirely consistent with his usual methods. (In truth, GRNC-PVF recommended Greg Brannon, not Tillis, in the US Senate Republican primary, and recommended voting for Tillis in the General Election only because he opposed virulently anti-gun Democrat incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan.)

Another potential player

Interestingly, I also recently got an email from Doug Raymond, who is reportedly consulting for the campaign of Rep. Greg Murphy, whom GRNC-PVF also did not recommend in the 3rd District. I did not respond to his request to call. You may recall that Raymond mismanaged the Attorney General campaign for pro-gun Senator Buck Newton who unfortunately lost the race, saddling us with anti-gun Attorney General Josh Stein. Raymond is also reported to be close to Clifton, and has also reportedly engaged in “hit campaigns” like the one we are seeing now.

A question for the ‘Haymaker’

So I guess the question we need to ask Brant Clifton of the Daily Haymaker is this: “Are you now or have you ever coordinated your political coverage with Doug Raymond and by association with the Greg Murphy campaign; or with Dudley Brown, Reilly O’Neal, Noel Fritsch, Patrick Parsons, or any other past or present representative or operative of NAGR?” I would be happy to discuss that question with Clifton on my radio show this weekend.


Unless they “fess up,” all of this is impossible to prove, of course, as are most back-door plots. And Brant Clifton will undoubtedly deny it all. But one thing is certain: Any claim you may hear that GRNC candidate evaluations or GRNC-PVF candidate recommendations are somehow flawed is both ridiculous and likely the claim of hucksters who want your money. For those who live in the 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts, the special election primaries are April 30 and May 14, respectively. Please vote gun rights and, beforehand, equip yourself with accurate candidate information by going to

Armatissimi e liberissimi,

Paul Valone

F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International
Radio host, Guns, Politics and Freedom