NRA v. Ackerman, Texas

Ackerman’s Amended Answer & Counterclaims

November 15, 2019

Filing Summary

This filing includes Ackerman’s Amended Answer (p. 1-76) to the NRA’s complaint, in addition to its Amended Counterclaims and Third Party Complaint (p. 77- 123).  The counterclaim levies several new and detailed allegations of wrongdoing at the NRA, and alleges the following causes of action: (1) Libel (against the NRA and LaPierre); (2) Tortious Interference with Contract (against the NRA and LaPierre); (3) Declaratory Judgment (against the NRA); (4) Fraud (against LaPierre); and (5) Breach of Contract (against the NRA).  

Key Points

  • In large part, the Answer contains general denials and/or other legal language that fails to shed significant light on factual developments.  The more illuminating content is in the Amended Counterclaims.
  • Ackerman alleges 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.  By establishing an annual line-item budget for pass through expenses, he created a veritable black hole for unchecked spending that, in turn, appeared to be a legitimate vendor expense for purposes of NRA records.” (para 49).
  • 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, such as Rick Tedrick in the NRA accounting department.” (para 22 and 79)
  • Ackerman claims to have “first became suspicious of LaPierre’s misuse of funds when” it was asked “to facilitate and help structure the financing of a personal home for LaPierre and his wife.  Ostensibly for ‘safety reasons’…. As the search expanded, LaPierre passed over numerous safe housing options in favor of a $6 million mansion with no greater safety benefit.” (para. 51)
  • When the questions about the NRA’s ties to Russia began to emerge, Ackerman alleges “the NRA initially asked an experienced contractor, Elaine Lammert, to lead the internal investigation.  But quickly she was stonewalled. NRA officials even implied that they were more concerned with hiding the facts of the investigation than with bringing the entire story to light… The extent to which the NRA was willing to prioritize the personal protection of LaPierre and other members of the Board – a whitewash effort the organization is stridently pushing even today – was becoming evident” to Ackerman.”  [Note: Ms. Lammert is the Former Deputy General Counsel for the FBI] (para. 46)
  • In its counterclaims, Ackerman calls the NRA’s School Shield program (designed to help locate qualified armed safety officials for schools) a “shell program that the NRA never had any intention or meaningful ability to execute.”  The pleading claims that “by the end of 2014, School Shield had issued only” five grants and Oliver North demanded the NRA “make it real.”  (para 55)
  • Upon information and belief, Ackerman claims “the NRA makes charitable contributions to a third-party charity, who in turns donates that money to Youth for Tomorrow, an organization for which LaPierre’s wife, Susan LaPierre, acted as President.”  (para. 53)
  • In discussing the organization’s fundraising, Ackerman notes that the “NRA’s recent plea for donations to fight Andrew Cuomo (citing the danger of losing its insurance) or claims that the NRA was ‘going out of business’ were intentionally misleading to drive donations and membership dollars.”  (para 54)
  • With respect to Carry Guard, the counterclaims assert that Chief of Staff Josh Powell entered into negotiations for the NRA to acquire USCCA (the leading competitor to the NRA’s Carry Guard product) “without approval from the NRA Board.”  Ackerman claims it “expressed reservations about promoting anything that the NRA would be unable to deliver as promised.” (para. 45).  The amended filing continues to allege that Powell called Carry Guard an “insurance scheme.” 
  • With respect to Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, the filing notes “[e]ven today, LaPierre knows little about guns or how to actually use them.” (para. 14)
  • According to the filing, “[s]ometime in early 2018, LaPierre became preoccupied with going to jail.” (para 56)