NRA v. Ackerman, Texas

Deposition of NRA Board Member Charles Cotton

February 7, 2020


On February 7, 2020, NRA 1st Vice President and Chairman of the Audit Committee Charles Cotton sat for a deposition in the NRA’s litigation with their former vendor Ackerman McQueen. That deposition transcript was made public in a July 6, 2021 filing by Ackerman. NRA Watch reviewed the transcript and highlighted some testimony of note below.

Key Points

  • Cotton testified that he did not review Oliver North’s contract with Ackerman McQueen before it was approved by the Audit Committee. (p. 29) When asked if other Audit Committee members reviewed the contract before it was approved, Cotton replied: “I can’t say if anyone else did. To my knowledge, no one did because we were trying to get it from Ollie.” (p. 45)
  • Cotton testified that no “direct action” was taken by the audit committee when it was presented with whistleblower complaints by NRA accountants, instead they turned the complaints over to the Brewer firm for investigation. (p. 121-123)
  • In some cases, even though complaints about spending were presented directly to the Audit Committee, Cotton determined that they were outside the scope of the committee. For example, one complaint questioned the “reimbursement of expenses relating to apartments and living expenses beyond the NRA HR policy manual’s stipulations, and on a permanent basis.” When asked if the committee looked into this accusation, Cotton answered: “No, because that wouldn’t come within the purview of the audit committee.” (p. 131) When asked about Wayne LaPierre’s wardrobe purchases totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, Cotton testified that LaPierre’s wardrobe purchases did not “come within the purview of the committee” and that those allegations were being investigated by the Brewer firm. (p. 132)
  • When asked about the NRA’s participation in a delegation to Moscow and whether the Audit Committee had any involvement in reviewing or approving the trip, Cotton asserted that he did investigate the matter and found that “we had no delegation going to Russia.” His investigation consisted of “talking with Wayne LaPierre,” “talking with Bill Brewer, and talking “to some other board members.” (p. 150) Cotton continued, “My testimony is [that] the NRA did not authorize anyone to go to Moscow.” In fact, he said that “Wayne [LaPierre] not only didn’t authorize it,” he forbade it. (p. 151)
  • When asked who was responsible for monitoring Mr. LaPierre’s expenses for jet travel, including making sure that these expenses were not personal, and that they were NRA related, Cotton replied: “I guess it would be both Wayne and the treasurer’s office.” (p. 194)
  • Cotton testified that he believes NRA Board Member Allen West was involved in the failed attempt to oust Wayne LaPierre. Although, Cotton does not “know the full extent of his role.” (p. 240) Cotton further testified that West “didn’t bother” to attend a 2019 meeting because he “was glad-handing trying to run for chair of the Texas Republican Party.” (p. 340)