The breadth and scope of the NRA’s legal issues can be difficult to keep up with. This page provides a brief summary of some of the investigations, lawsuits, and other regulatory issues the NRA faces. Click on a topic to learn more and see primary source filings.
NEW YORK AND DC ATTORNEYS GENERAL LAWSUITS: As a result of the sprawling evidence of financial mismanagement, self-dealing, and questionable business practices, New York Attorney General Letitia James has brought suit against the NRA for violations of New York’s charities law. The AG’s complaint charges 18 causes of action against the NRA and four executives (CEO Wayne LaPierre, General Counsel John Frazer, former Chief of Staff Josh Powell, and former CFO Woody Phillips). While the complaint contains nearly 700 paragraphs, the factual allegations largely center around widespread looting of the NRA as a charity, with CEO LaPierre as the ringleader of that activity. The complaint alleges improper personal benefits for senior NRA executives, including that NRA leaders used vendors and contractors to hide improper expenditures, self-dealing, and related party transactions. In addition, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has sued both the NRA and NRA Foundation, alleging that the NRA Foundation exceeded and abused the authority of the charity, and that the Foundation acted contrary to the non-profit purpose of the NRA Foundation.
NRA BANKRUPTCY: In January 2021, the NRA filed for bankruptcy in a federal court in Texas. The filing was made under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, meaning the NRA will be seeking to reorganize through the bankruptcy process. While already losing power and hemorrhaging money, the NRA’s bankruptcy filing should be seen for what it is: an attempt to escape legal responsibility for alleged fraud and lining the pockets of their top executives. The NRA will attempt to use the bankruptcy process to halt legal proceedings against it by state attorneys general, former vendors, donors, and others. In fact, NRA board member Bob Barr admitted as much, saying the bankruptcy “has nothing to do with the NRA’s financial position… It simply is a legal vehicle to move under protection of federal laws, to escape the abuse by the New York authorities.”
NRA V. ACKERMAN (TEXAS): The NRA and its former advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, are embroiled in a number of litigations about the deterioration of their business relationship, including this federal litigation in Texas. The case includes the parties trading accusations of deceit, wrongdoing, and extortion, among other allegations. This litigation is now of significant economic consequence – with both parties seeking over $50 million in damages. Of note, due to the bankruptcy filing, the claims against the NRA are stayed, although the Court is proceeding with claims against NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Ackerman McQueen.
NRA V. ACKERMAN (VIRGINIA): This litigation involves very similar allegations as the federal action in Texas, although this series of cases (now consolidated) were brought in Virginia (Alexandria). Of note, this case was stayed pending the resolution of the Texas case.
NRA CARRY GUARD INVESTIGATION: The NRA’s “Carry Guard” insurance program, which promised to cover an individual’s legal expenses if they shoot someone and claim self-defense, was unveiled at the 2016 NRA convention with much fanfare, but has subsequently become a regulatory debacle. In February 2020, the New York State Department of Financial Services formally charged the NRA as acting as an unlicensed insurance producer with respect to its “Carry Guard” insurance product. Soon after, the NRA settled the case, agreeing to pay a $2.5 million fine and halt their insurance business in New York.
NRA V. OLIVER NORTH: Oliver North is the former board president of the NRA. In early 2019, North began making inquiries into apparent financial mismanagement and conflict of interest transactions at the NRA. His inquiries led to a power struggle within the NRA that resulted in North’s ouster. North began receiving subpoenas and requests for information relating to the various inquiries the NRA faced. North asked the NRA to indemnify his legal fees, which the NRA denied, and instead sued North in this lawsuit in New York state court. While the court ultimately ruled that the NRA did not have to pay North’s legal fees, the litigation unearthed various facts that shed light on the controversies surrounding the NRA and its mismanagement.
UNDER WILD SKIES V. NRA: Under Wild Skies, Inc. produced the hunting television series Under Wild Skies pursuant to a contract with the NRA for several years. However, in-mid 2019, the company alleges the NRA started skipping payments and brought a lawsuit in Virginia (Fairfax County) seeking over $17 million in damages from the NRA.
CAMPAIGN COORDINATION INQUIRY: Explosive investigative reporting by The Trace revealed media buyers for the NRA’s purportedly independent campaign expenditures were simultaneously doing similar work on behalf of the campaigns they were supporting, including several high-profile U.S. Senate races and President Trump’s campaign. Federal election law bars campaigns and independent groups from coordinating their spending and detailed complaints about this conduct have been submitted to the Federal Election Commission.
DONOR CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT: David Dell’Aquila is a longtime supporter of the NRA who became frustrated with the NRA’s mismanagement and lack of transparency. He brought this class action lawsuit in the Middle District of Tennessee against the NRA, the NRA Foundation, and Wayne Lapierre, alleging that they fraudulently solicited donations that were used for purposes outside of the NRA’s core mission
EVERYTOWN COMPLAINTS: The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has brought the NRA’s misdeeds to light in a variety manners, including referrals to relevant government regulators. This includes complaints to the IRS and the Combined Federal Campaign to alert them of the NRA’s alleged self-dealing, financial mismanagement, and corruption. Additionally, and has been publicly reported, Everytown filed complaints concerning the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance product with regulators in multiple states.