The Curious Case of Rick Tillis and the NRA rating

Rocky Top received a couple of emails from our loyal band of tipsters questioning the accuracy of RTP’s post regarding the changing of an NRA rating for legislative candidate Rick Tillis from a C to an A.  We take any challenge to our veracity quite seriously — anyone questioning our truthfulness will be locked in a room with Jeremy Durham, a cooler of beer and trousers full of candy.

The first tipster let us know that Tillis had received a really bad grade from the NRA.  That was when one of the crew made a screenshot of the original posting.  We are glad we did, because then yet another tipster contacted us and said the grade had been mysteriously changed.  Another RTP crew member checked the NRA website, and sure enough, the grade had been changed to an “A.”

The original  tipster was someone whom we believe had direct knowledge of the call from Harwell and Haynes to the NRA on Tillis’ behalf.  Until that tip, RTP was totally unaware of the discrepancy.

One tipster suggested the grade originally posted on the NRA’s website could have been a fake screen shot.  Although the quality of our screen shot was poor, we know firsthand it was definitely not a fake – we got it directly from the NRA website.  To prove that point, another helpful tipster provided us with much clearer “before and after” screen shots.  Here they are:



Sure looks real to us.

Another helpful tipster pointed out the difference in Tillis’ name, which was changed when they moved him from a C to an A and thought the NRA might have somehow confused him with his brother, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.  We too noticed the name difference, but here’s where it gets a little weird. We checked the U.S. Senate, which listed Sen. Tillis’ full name as Thomas Roland Tillis.  According to the TN Secretary of State, Rick Tillis’ full name that appears in his candidacy filings is Thomas Richard Tillis.

Very odd that brothers would share the same first name, but it doesn’t seem likely there was any confusion when assigning grades.  To make sure, we also looked at previous NRA ratings for Sen. Tillis when he was in the NC legislature and in all the ones we could find, they showed Thom Tillis consistently got an A+ rating from the NRA.  So much for somehow accidentally entering the original score for the wrong candidate by mistake.

If the NRA somehow made a mistake, they can always step forward and admit it and explain how it could happen, why they made the change without notifying their members or the visitors to their website and whether they received a call from Harwell and/or Haynes regarding Tillis.  Our source swears on a stack of Bibles and first-hand knowledge that the phone call was made.  This source has always been dead-on accurate and truthful before and RTP has no reason to doubt the source now.

Our guess is the NRA will not admit to any of this, and that’s okay. The NRA is a great organization (every single member of the RTP crew is an NRA member and all but one of us have carry permits), but even a great organization can be susceptible to political strong-arming.  Is that what happened here?  Sure looks like it.  The physical evidence speaks for itself.  But the NRA doesn’t owe RTP an explanation.

Special thanks to the RTP Merry Band of Tipsters for the input.  But until proven otherwise, our story stands.

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