St. Thomas University CFO Forced Out Over Role With Assault Rifle Company

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Barely a week after South Florida resident Anita Britt joined the corporate board of American Outdoor Brands, Nikolas Cruz used one of the company's AR-15 assault rifles to murder 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That wasn't Britt's only high-profile role, though: Just a month earlier, she'd been hired as chief financial and administrative officer at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.

Today, the university's president decided that in the wake of the Parkland massacre, those two roles were no longer compatible. The Catholic priest who heads the school told Britt she'd either have to resign from the gunmaker or the school — and she chose to stick with the gunmaker.

"Yesterday I advised Ms. Britt that she needed to make a choice of either resigning her role on American Outdoor Brands, or her role as CFO at St. Thomas University, but that she could not continue on both," Monsignor Franklyn Casale says in a statement. "Ms. Britt informed me this afternoon that she has decided to resign her position at St. Thomas University. I have accepted Ms. Britt’s resignation."

That move was a change of heart for the school, which last week defended Britt's dual roles as an education bigwig and a board member at one of America's leading makers of military-style weapons.

An online petition had wracked up hundreds of signatures from locals urging Britt to step down from American Outdoor, which is the parent of Smith & Wesson. The company made the AR-15 that Cruz legally bought before going on his rampage last month; another of the firm's assault weapons was used in the Colorado movie-theater mass shooting.

St. Thomas initially argued Britt could use her role at the gunmaker to push for changes that would make the nation safer. "We believe Ms. Britt’s position with American Outdoor Brands provides her the opportunity to participate in helping the company achieve its objectives of making our communities safer and that her role with the company does not conflict with her responsibilities here at St. Thomas," the school said in a statement last week.

But Casale says he's now less optimistic. And in light of that change, he decided Britt couldn't both work with students and help a company profit handsomely by selling AR-15s.

"After my statement of this past Friday," Casale says, "it has become clear that many of the sensible and reasonable solutions to this gun epidemic, which have been discussed previously, were becoming less and less clear."
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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