August 06, 2020
The New York State Attorney General has filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA. They are also charging Wayne LaPierre, Josh Powell, Jon Frazier and Wilson Philips. Monetary mismanagement of $64 million. Ackerman-McQueen alone was paid $70 million. They will seek to remove LaPierre and Frazier from their positions. More to follow!
For whom the bell tolls is an old expression about someone finally receiving judgement for their actions. Well, the bell seems to be tolling for Wayne LaPierre. The New York State Attorney General (NYAG), Leticia James, has filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the NRA as an organization in its charter state. In a press conference, she laid out several points as to why she is taking this course of action. Her office launched an investigation back in April 2019 amidst a flurry of public accusations about the NRA mismanaging donations. At the same time she is going after named individuals at the center of the case.
To be clear, this is a series of civil actions, as the New York State laws governing charities are restrictive in how such accusations are handled. At this time there are no criminal referrals being made at the state nor federal level. This is an ongoing investigation, so all of this may change as the information is sent to other oversight agencies, such as the IRS. The current lawsuits will still take years to settle. The real question is; how long can the NRA seek to fight all of these battles? More importantly is what their membership will do in the meantime.
So on to some of the specifics regarding the actions taken by the NYAG on an organization she called “fraught with fraud and abuse” are as follows. The 18-month investigation has found the the NRA ran at a $64 million loss over the past 3 years alone. This was likely as far back as they have gone through the NRA's tax records at this time. This was done through massive amounts of money going to the NRA directors, certain board members, favored vendors and family members among others.
Next is the situation between the NRA and McKenna & Associates who received $5 million dollars for consulting, which had several strings and kickbacks attached. That's nothing compared to Ackerman McQueen. NYAG James stated in her press conference that the NRA paid out more than $70 million to the firm in the last few years of their partnership, mostly centered around NRATV. There is still ongoing litigation between the two organizations. Which leads us to William A. Brewer and his law firm that billed the NRA for more than $54 million in legal fees in the past two years. This is mostly in part to the numerous lawsuits the NRA is currently engaged in over contracts and leaking information.
This lawsuit also specifically listed Wayne LaPierre, ex-Chief Financial Officer Wilson H. (Woody) Phillips, ex-operations chief Joshua Powell and Secretary John Frazer as key figures in this fraud. The NYAG's office will seek for them to pay restitution for their actions. Now, Phillips left the NRA under the cloud that he embezzled money from the NRA, and Powell left after accusations of sexual misconduct were made against him. The amount of money these individuals may have to pay back could be quite staggering.
Now the NRA will make claims that this is all being done to attempt to sideline the organization from being able to fight for the gun rights of not only its membership, but all firearms owners. The United State is highly divisive in the area of politics at this time. Just the day before this announcement, Joe Biden's campaign posted on social media that they will definitely seek to ban 'military style' weapons if elected. One of the most important national elections is only months away. The NYAG will use every piece of evidence they have regarding the matter. The NRA wasted no time posting their response to the NYAG. This being a civil matter, it will take possible years to reach a conclusion. It’s also noteworthy to point out that this has nothing to do with the NRA Foundation, which is a completely separate organization. They may still care on with the core principles of the organization, even if the NRA itself ceases to exist in a worst case outcome.
Several sources were contacted and all gave measured responses as to what the future will look like, but corruption can't be tolerated. This sentiment has been echoed by many who sounded the alarm regarding the issues but were being blocked by key figures in the NRA. Six board members resigned in protest of what was going last year. In a similar fashion, Save the Second, an independent group attempting reforms had this response, “None of us who have been pushing for NRA reform are celebrating today's announcement...It is tragic that the NY AG's office is having to step in and clean up the NRA.” The gun community will have hard choices to make in the coming weeks and months.
Firearms News has been covering problems surrounding the organization for some time and posted previous articles regarding this topic. There will also be more followup articles about the NRA's financial situation as soon as possible. Updates will be posted as more information becomes available.