The NRA says it is running out of money, but they seem to have plenty to spend on fancy travel and nice suits.
An ugly fight between the NRA and its ad firm, Ackerman McQueen, has spilled into public view, bringing with it a treasure trove of information about how CEO Wayne LaPierre, among others, spends that donor money.
First, the NRA filed a lawsuit against Ackerman, saying the ad group refused to provide information to justify its massive billings — the NRA paid Ackerman $42 million in 2017 alone. For perspective, the NRA's annual operating budget is around $300 million. Ackerman is behind the terrible NRA-TV, which airs videos taunting teenage survivors of school shootings.
Ackerman is fighting the lawsuit, but they're also fighting back by sending letters to the NRA board complaining about LaPierre's spendthrift ways. It turns out that LaPierre traveled to Italy, Hungary, the Bahamas, and more — and charged over $240,000 of travel expenses to the agency. Ackerman says they can't provide any records to the NRA justifying the $240,000 worth of expenses unless LaPierre can provide further documentation about the trips.
The agency fired off another letter to the NRA demanding backup records for $450,000 in travel-related expenses for Tyler Schropp, head of fundraising for the NRA. Schropp rang up bills at luxury hotels in places like Napa Valley.
Ackerman is also picking up the tab for LaPierre's clothing to the tune of more than $200,000 worth of fancy suits.
The NRA says it has, over time, reimbursed Ackerman for the travel charges. However, even letting the agency pay for things, only to be paid back later, may still pose a legal problem. A nonprofit law specialist told the Wall Street Journal that it would be permissible to charge those costs to Ackerman if they were for official NRA functions Ackerman had arranged. However, if the travel was personal, it appears as if the NRA is trying to hide something by routing those expenses through a vendor.
The NRA is really the perfect nonprofit for the Trump era. They fleece their donors by keeping them in a perpetual state of fear while the leaders of the group line their own pockets. However, the free-spending days of the NRA might be coming to an end.
Much like the Trump Foundation was, the NRA is under the microscope now, with New York state Attorney General Letitia James looking into the NRA's finances and regulatory filings. Is it too much to hope that the NRA meets the same fate as the Trump Foundation did?
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.