Just Last Week, a Secret Recording Caught Wayne LaPierre Saying the Organization Took “About a $100 Million Hit” from Legal Troubles and He Took NRA “Down to the Studs’ to “Survive”
NEW YORK – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, released a new website and report about the NRA’s legal troubles, financial mismanagement, and internal turmoil. First reported by Salon, the website––NRAWatch.org––features a comprehensive catalog of NRA news, legal cases, and IRS filings in recent years. The report––NRA in Crisis: 2020––focuses on the past year of turmoil at the NRA, including allegations of extortion, cronyism, and a failed coup that could jeopardize the long-term viability of the NRA as we know it.
“The slow-motion implosion of the NRA is one of the most important political stories of the past few years, said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This report makes it clear that NRA leaders started the financial fire that’s engulfing his organization, so they don’t get to blame the pandemic when the NRA’s house burns down.”
“The NRA’s policy priorities are killing us––literally,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Stopping the NRA has always been one of our top priorities, but when it comes to the gun lobby’s legal and financial issues, the secret to our success is that we let the NRA beat itself. All we have to do is shine a flashlight under the fridge and let the cockroaches run out.”
- NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre allegedly “preoccupied with going to jail”: NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “hopes his lawyers can ‘keep him out of jail,’ according to previously unreported allegations in court documents in the group’s legal battle against its longtime public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen.” Further documents published on NRAWatch.org allege “that LaPierre has grown ‘preoccupied with going to jail’” and that LaPierre said NRA outside attorney Bill “Brewer was going to keep him out of jail.”
- NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre allegedly “used third party vendors” to conceal “personal spending”: A previously unreported filing by Ackerman alleged that “[t]hroughout his tenure with the NRA, LaPierre has routinely used third-party vendors like [Ackerman] to conceal his penchant for personal spending, seemingly with the NRA’s blessing.” According to Salon, the filing also alleges that LaPierre, “‘on many occasions, told [Ackerman] that he didn’t trust his own accounting department within the NRA’ and that, ‘on several occasions, LaPierre would specifically instruct [Ackerman] not to disclose certain information to certain auditors’ in the NRA’s accounting department.”
- NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre allegedly “‘more interested in purchasing a lavish home for himself’ than in addressing ‘alleged safety concerns’” after Parkland Shooting: “In a previously unreported declaration, Ackerman’s chief financial officer, William Winkler, said that he refused to move ahead with [acquiring a $6.5 million home for LaPierre after the Parkland shooting] when ‘it became apparent … that Mr. LaPierre was more interested in purchasing a lavish home for himself” than in addressing ‘alleged safety concerns.’”
- NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “may have violated his own group’s bylaws by improperly using Ackerman to pay” former President Oliver North: The Salon piece discusses “alleg[ations] that LaPierre may have violated his own group’s bylaws by improperly using Ackerman to pay” former NRA President, Lt. Col. Oliver North, “who left the organization after what it described as a ‘failed coup attempt.’” Specifically, “a previously unreported February court filing by Ackerman alleged that LaPierre convinced North to ‘leave his paid position at Fox and become the next President and an employee of [Ackerman] by hosting a television show on NRATV.’” Salon reports the filing continued, “The NRA agreed to compensate [Ackerman] for Col. North reimbursing [Ackerman] for his work,’ the filing claimed.”
- NRA Lawyer Bill Brewer allegedly timed “attacks on the McQueen family” with Angus McQueen’s “medical treatment”: Another filing by Ackerman alleged that Brewer “engaged in deeply personal and calculated attacks on the McQueen family … at times strategically coordinated with Angus [McQueen’s] medical treatment, his final family events, his declining health, and ultimately the period of grief following his death.”
The launch of the report and website marks one year since Wayne LaPierre was reelected as the leader of the NRA and comes at a particularly tumultuous time for the NRA. In recent months, Wayne LaPierre has sought to blame coronavirus––not the NRA’s questionable financial practices or rampant legal trouble––for organizational financial struggles that include layoffs, furloughs, and reduced salaries. But in the past two 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 on Thursday 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.”
This reporting puts a spotlight on the NRA’s recent questionable financial practices and legal turmoil, all of which is comprehensively documented on NRAWatch.org.
- Financial: 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.
- Legal: The organization is 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.
Due to these rampant financial and legal troubles, the Trump administration is reportedly “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups.”