Deposition of NRA GC John Frazer (Bankruptcy Proceedings)
Former NRA vendor Ackerman McQueen attached partial transcripts of depositions taken in the NRA bankruptcy matter to a March 24th filing. This includes the deposition of NRA General Counsel John Frazer. Below please find some highlights of the testimony. Pages references are to the deposition page (not the PDF page number).
- Frazer testified that the various litigations the NRA is embroiled with were hurting the NRA and that they had become a “financial burden.” (p.264)
- He also opined: “I mean, litigation is always a financial burden. If you spend one dollar on litigation, it’s a dollar that could be spent on something else.” (p.264)
- After reviewing past travel, Frazer testified that LaPiere “ended up reimbursing 300-some thousand dollars” to the NRA. (p.28). Frazer also testified that some “trips for [LaPierre] family members [on private aircraft] didn’t have business purposes.” (p.26)
- Mr. Frazer disclosed that upon a review of NRA employee credit card usage, there was a “sum recovered” from Millie Hallow, a longtime assistant to Wayne LaPierre, for “charges that included primarily a lot of travel and entertainment-related expenses that we felt were not tied to a business purpose.” (p.46).
- Without further details provided, the attorney for the New York Attorney General asking the questions referred to other charged expenses from Ms. Hallow as “for the wedding” and “the wedding expenses.” Frazer testified that these wedding related expenses occurred in 2012, but were not repaid until 2020. (47-48).
- Of note, Frazer also testified that these wedding expenses were paid “through a vendor invoice.” When asked “to what vendor”, Frazer replied “Paul Erickson.” (p.48). Note, in 2020, Mr. Erickson was sentenced to serve seven years in federal prison related to defrauding investors. He also was the same individual who used his connections to the conservative movement, including the NRA, to help Russian Maria Butina. Ms. Butina was convicted of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian state.
- With respect to former NRA CFO Woody Phillips, Frazer acknowledged Phillips had been given a post employment consulting contract testifying “I think the NRA has concerns about – what services he provided.” When pressed for more details, Frazer said “the concern would be whether he provided any services commensurate with the level of compensation.” (p.58)
- Note, Philips recently took the 5th Amendment at a recent deposition in the case.
- Frazer testified that “for some time” Wayne LaPierre’s expenses at the NRA were processed through the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. (p.80). This entity was run by the NRA’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox.
- Frazer testified that NRA board member, and former NBA star, Karl Malone did not return his board member conflicts of interest form, but there were no consequences for his failure to report. (p.140)
- Frazer was asked about a letter alleging that NRA lawyer Bill Brewer threatened and/or retaliated against witnesses. The letter was written by a longtime NRA compliance employee Emily Cummins. (p.185-187)
- Frazer was not able to identify any specific steps he took to investigate these claims. He testified, after reviewing the letter, “I concluded was that based on information that was already well known, that there was no misconduct” and that he felt “the issues in the letter were stale.” (187-188)
- Further, Frazer dismissed the allegations as “after-the-fact claim by an – by an ex employee….” (p.186)
- Mr. Frazer testified that he was aware Wayne LaPierre had taken trips to the Bahamas, but did not learn about the details of the trip (including that a vendor had provided a 112 foot yacht) until media reports surfaced. (p.227)
- Frazer acknowledged that LaPierre did not disclose the yacht on his internal conflicts of interest forms provided to the NRA. (p.230-232)
- The NRA did not learn that its executive Michael Marcellin had a contract with the insurer Lockton Affinity, a company whose relationship he managed at the NRA, until the New York State Department of Financial Services investigation of the NRA’s insurance practices. (p.235-236)
- Without providing additional detail,. Frazer testified that it “was true at one time” that there were certain NRA contracts that the NRA’s own contract management staff were not allowed to see. (p.242-243)
- Frazer testified that the NRA believes the suits purchased for Wayne LaPierre were “business expenditure[s]” for “Mr. LaPierre’s appearance in video production. (p.24)
- General Counsel Frazer testified that he found out about the NRA’s bankruptcy filing the day of the filing (January 15). He testified, however, he had been informed about “the possibility” of Chapter 11 being considered in Fall of 2020. (p.258)
- He had no explanation for why the General Counsel was not more aware of such an important legal decision as declaring bankruptcy.
- Frazer said there were three reasons the NRA filed for bankruptcy: (1) “to streamline our litigation”, (2) “consolidate everything, a lot of claims against the NRA”, and (3) “to effect a reorganization in the state” of Texas. (p.260)
- Frazer testified, despite being the General Counsel, he similarly didn’t know who was involved in the decision to hire the Chief Restructuring Officer, Marshall Smith. (p.312-314)
- He testified that Smith had a previous relationship with NRA lawyer Bill Brewer. (p.314).
- With respect to “Sea Girt”, the Texas LLC that the NRA created and also put into bankruptcy, Frazer testified that “Sea Girt was formed as an entity to assist in the potential restructuring and relocation of the NRA.” (p.315)
- Apparently, Sea Girt was formed with a $50,000 transfer from an account maintained by outside lawyer Bill Brewer. The funds were not directly provided by the NRA. When asked by the attorney for the NYAG “isn’t it true, Mr. Frazer, that the reason that the money was paid from the Brewer trust account and not directly from the NRA, that the NRA did not want its accounting department to know what it was doing?”, Frazer refused to answer and invoked the attorney-client privilege. (p.321-322)