Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville has announced it will no longer be the location of the National Rifle Association fundraiser dinner following criticism from anti-NRA activists.
The venue became a target for anti-NRA activists from the Newtown Action Alliance as the banquet venue was poised to host a Friends of the National Rifle Association fundraiser on March 23. At the time, Aqua Turf’s longtime general manager, Tim Needham, called the attack “totally unfair” and said that they do not discriminate against clients for any reason. The NRA had hosted the fundraiser at the Plantsville location for years.
However, on Wednesday Aqua Turf officials announced that they and NRA officials mutually agreed to move the function somewhere else.
“Following the unprecedented controversy regarding the Aqua Turf Club contracting the NRA fundraiser dinner on Friday March 23rd 2018, the owners, an NRA field representative, and a long-time former chairperson for the CT committee of the NRA came together to work on the problem at hand, wrote Aqua Turf manager Karen Alix in a statement.
“During this meeting, both sides mutually agreed to move the function elsewhere. It was an excruciatingly difficult decision to make as we had formed a 25-year client/venue relationship.
“The Aqua Turf Club appreciates the understanding and support of the NRA.”
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League expressed its disappointment at the decision.
"The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is at a loss for words that NRA Events are now unable to be conducted at the Aquaturf. Very simply, the crude work of internet operatives has ruined a 25 year relationship between the facility and the Friends of the NRA. I understand the unfortunate position that the Aquaturf has been put in, but we are outraged by the actions of some anti-gun groups. CCDL will likely cancel our 10 year anniversary that was planned at the venue, and not commit to any future events at the location," wrote CCDL President Scott Wilson in a statement.
The Newtown Action Alliance, which had previously called for a boycott of the venue, applauded the Aqua Turf’s action.
“We do not want corporations and private entities to do business with the NRA, let alone help to raise money for the NRA,” said Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance.
Now the group which put on the fundraiser this year, the Charter Oak chapter of the “Friends of the NRA,” is left searching for a new place to hold their event in the future.
Historically, it collects up to $50,000 for the organization, which is a separate, non-political foundation.
“We raise money for firearms safety, training and education,” said Michele McBrien, co-chair of the Charter Oak Chapter.
Despite organizing the event, McBrien says her group was not part of the meeting where the breakup was discussed. She admits being surprised and disappointed when she later learned of the agreement.