NRA v. Ackerman, Texas

Ackerman’s Answer & Counterclaims

October 1, 2019

Filing Summary

This filing includes Ackerman’s Answer (p. 1-17) to the NRA’s initial complaint, in addition to Ackerman’s initial counterclaims (p. 18-55).  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); and (4) Fraud (against LaPierre).  The counterclaim was later amended on November 15 to include additional allegations and a cause of action for 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 Counterclaims.
  • With respect to Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, the counterclaim notes “he was seemingly ill-suited to head what many describe as a strident advocacy group” and that LaPierre “often exhibited defensiveness [about a show about the U.S. military], stemming no doubt from his lack of military service and multiple deferments obtained during the Vietnam conflict.” (para. 7)
  • LaPierre allegedly “routinely urged” Ackerman to give him “more gasoline”, meaning outspoken communications that would “create notoriety for the NRA” and “enhance his personal brand.” (para. 9)
  • LaPierre was “beset of paranoia or a passion for secrecy or both, adopted a dictatorial, micro management style.” (para. 15).  The counterclaims note that LaPierre and NRA CFO Woody Phillips “controlled” the budget process, and that “LaPierre participated in those negotiations and approved each annual budget.” (para. 11)
  • Ackerman notes that “one of the defining characteristics of the NRA/Ackerman relationship was the frequency with which LaPierre and others acting at his direction asked [Ackerman] to ‘front’ activities and expenses for the NRA.” (para. 14).  Moreover, Ackerman estimates these expenses, which were reimbursed by the NRA, “amounted to several millions of dollars annually.” (para. 14)
  • At paragraph 26, the counterclaim alleges that LaPierre “bristled at the thought of openly supporting Trump” in 2016 and “continued his cynicism regarding Trump during the entire presidential election, noting on multiple occasions that he didn’t believe Trump could win.” (para. 26)
  • Ackerman claims that NRATV was Wayne LaPierre’s “brain child” and that NRATV “became the medium through which [the NRA’s] most robust fundraising took place.” (para. 24).  As an example, Ackerman discusses how “NRATV was able to generate almost $500K in a matter of some 35 days” after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and that LaPierre claimed that NRATV personality Dana Loesch’s appearance on CNN after Parkland had allowed “the NRA to raise millions of dollars.” (para. 29)
  • When the questions about the NRA’s ties to Russia began to emerge, Ackerman alleges “NRA officials even implied that they were more concerned with hiding the facts of the investigation than with bringing the entire story to light.”  Ackerman calls this a “precursor to the priority placed on the personal protection of LaPierre and others and the whitewash effort the organization is stridently pursuing yet today.” (para. 33)
  • Ackerman lists the following reasons for contributing to the dispute between the NRA and Ackerman: “the Brewer factor; LaPierre’s lavish wardrobe expenditures; LaPierre’s (and his wife Susan’s) extravagant trips and vacations paid for with NRA members’ dues; the LaPierre family’s use of AMc personnel as personal valets; attempted purchase of a Texas mansion, foiled by AMc’s reluctance to see it through; sexual harassment charges against LaPierre’s Chief of Staff Josh Powell, to name the most prominent.” (para. 64)
  • The counterclaims note that the Brewer Firm has billed the NRA “$24 million for over just one year (a number that has since grown) translating to (according to one report) some $97,000.00 per day.” (para. 36)
  • With respect to Carry Guard, the counterclaims assert that NRA 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.”  Further, the filing alleges that Powell called Carry Guard an “insurance scheme.”  (para. 32).