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Beleaguered NRA Hit with Class Action Lawsuit

According to a new Bangor Daily News report, a former NRA member named Travis McEwen has brought a class action lawsuit against the NRA and InfoCision, the NRA’s marketing firm, “alleging they for years have used an automatic telephone dialing system to place illegal calls to consumers around the country, including people who’d put their phone numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District court on Tuesday in Portland, ME. 

The report, written by Judy Harrison, tells the full story: 

  • Legal stakes: “The lawsuit claims the NRA and InfoCision violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which made it illegal for telemarketers to place automated calls to consumers without their prior express written consent and to call consumers who had put their numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry.”
  • McEwen’s allegations: McEwen claims in the complaint that “in late 2018 he began receiving multiple calls from InfoCision Inc., a direct marketing firm, based in Ohio, working on a membership campaign for the NRA. McEvan received the calls even though he’d placed his number on the Do Not Call Registry. For months, he received multiple calls per week, and the calls continued even after he told them he did not want to purchase an NRA membership and did not want them to call him.”McEwen further alleges that “[h]e placed his number of the NRA’s do not call list and the calls stopped for time. But in late 2019, McEwen’s phone began ringing again with the same offer.”
  • Additional allegations: According to the Bangor Daily news, “People across the country allegedly received similar calls” to those experienced by McEwen. 
  • Damages sought: According to McEwen’s lawyer, “The lawsuit seeks to stop the NRA’s unlawful practice of making unsolicited telemarketing calls with an automatic telephone dialing system without consumers’ consent, stop the NRA’s unlawful practice of calling consumers who are on the National Do Not Call Registry and obtain damages for consumers who experienced these unwelcome calls.”

This lawsuit comes at a time when the NRA is already mired in legal and financial turmoil, which is comprehensively documented on NRAWatch.org––a newly released database of NRA news, legal cases, and IRS filings. 

Legal: The organization is already facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, under investigation by the U.S. Senate and attorneys general in New York and DC, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen.

Financial: In recent months, Wayne LaPierre has sought to blame coronavirus for organizational financial struggles that include layoffs, furloughs, and reduced salaries. But in recent weeks, two major stories have contradicted Wayne LaPierre’s assertion:  

  • Secret recording from January catches Wayne LaPierre saying the NRA “took about a $100 million dollar hit” in last two years: A new NPR report that includes a “secret recording” of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre saying in a speech to NRA board members and staff that the NRA took “about a $100 million hit” in lost revenue and “real cost to this association” in 2018 and 2019 alone due to myriad legal crises facing the organization. He also said that for the NRA “to survive,” he took “about $80 million” out of the budget and “took it down to the studs.” He added that, “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
  • Court filing alleges the NRA paid outside attorney “over $54 million” in the last two years: The Trace reported that the NRA’s former longtime marketing agency, Ackerman McQueen, had alleged in a court filing that the NRA has paid attorney Bill Brewer’s firm “over $54 million” in the last two years to represent the organization “in multiple lawsuits and leading its response to investigations into possible violations of nonprofit law.”

The organization’s financial troubles don’t end there. In recent years, NRA executive pay has skyrocketed, money has flowed to ‘unpaid’ board members, and the NRA’s own board members and accountants have called into question lavish, legally suspect personal spending by its leadership––including reportedly millions of dollars’ worth of Italian suits and private jet trips for CEO Wayne LaPierre. Meanwhile, the NRA has run a deficit for three years in a row, and decreased spending for its core functions: spending for educating gun owners about safety and marksmanship dropped by nearly a quarter from 2017 to 2018, and less than 10 percent of NRA spending in 2018 went to gun safety, education, and training. 

Due to these rampant financial and legal troubles, the Trump administration is reportedly “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups.”