NRA v. Ackerman, Texas

Fact Declarations Appended to NRA Opposition to Disqualification of Bill Brewer

May 4, 2020

Filing Summary

These are exhibits 41-53 of an appendix, filed by the NRA, along with its brief in opposition to the disqualification of its attorney Bill Brewer from the litigation. The declarations primarily contain fact or purported expert declarations about the underlying facts in dispute.      

Key Points

  • In Exhibit 48, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre (p.58 of the PDF) acknowledges that the “NRA allowed [Ackerman] considerable latitude in managing their work for the association.” (para 6).  Nonetheless, LaPierre claims that he grew concerned with Ackerman’s messaging “coming across NRATV”—a station he claims was “created with the “intention of reaching a younger and more diverse audience.” (para 7)
    • LaPierre says “as the NRA faced regulatory scrutiny over a membership program known as Carry Guard” he began to question the NRA’s oversight over Ackerman McQueen and Lockton (the insurance company that administered Carry Guard. (para 8)
    • LaPierre recalls an instance where NRA CFO Craig Spray angered Angus McQueen, who allegedly called for Spray to be fired for asking questions about “the metrics related to NRATV and [Ackerman’s[ accounting practices.” Subsequently, in October 2018, Spray and LaPierre met with Angus McQueen and Revan McQueen to discuss potential cuts to the budget. LaPierre says “in abusive, vulgar tirades, the McQueens told me I was ‘dead to [them]’, and they had already written the NRA off and moved on.” (para 12-13)
    • LaPierre does not specifically discuss his reaction to the concerns raised by former NRA Board President Oliver North about the size of the legal fees the NRA was incurring, but instead claims that he “regarded North as having a conflict of interest” based on his financial relationship with Ackerman McQueen.  LaPierre acknowledges that he “repeatedly informed [North] of this conflict multiple times and that he should cease trying to derail [Brewer’s] compliance work and its efforts to scrutinize [Ackerman’s] books and records.” (para. 17)
    • The declaration repeats LaPierre’s allegation, found in several other court documents, that Oliver North extorted him.  Specifically, LaPierre alleges that both Millie Hallow and Carolyn Meadows (as the time 2nd Vice President) were on the phone call with North, during the 2019 convention, where North allegedly said the NRA should drop the lawsuit against Ackerman and LaPierre should resign, otherwise Ackerman “would circulate allegedly damaging information about” LaPierre and others in NRA leadership. (para. 18).
      • LaPierre claims “Earlier that day, Millie [Hallow] had reported receiving a less-detailed version of the same corrupt proposal from NRA Board member (and senior executive of an Ackerman client) Dan Boren, likewise relayed on behalf of” Ackerman. (para. 19)  
  • In Exhibit 41, NRA Director of Budget and Financial Analysis, Michael Erstling (p.2 of the PDF), noted that he “developed serious concerns about Ackerman’s budgeting and billing practices and the trust the NRA had placed” with Ackerman. Specifically, he noted that “Ackerman regularly issued six-figure invoices to the NRA with little detail or support, and systematically obfuscated and blocked the NRA’s efforts to understand what services were covered by any particular invoice.”(para 6).  There is no discussion, in the declaration, of how long these billing practices persisted and why questions were not raised previously. 
    • Erstling also said that Ackerman would bill for work that “has not been undertaken”, providing an example of a May 2018 invoice for $269,000 for an issue of NRA Carry Guard magazine that “was not slated to be released until later that summer.” (para 7)
    • He claims that in early 2018 he “began to compare notes with other NRA accounting staff, and it became clear that several of us shared the same or similar concerns” about Ackerman. These concerns were brought to the NRA Audit Committee in July 2018.  While noting Ackerman was the largest such vendor, Erstling says there “were other vendors (and transactions) we also believed should be examined.” He does not detail who those other vendors or transaction are in the declaration, (para 8)
  • In Exhibit 42, NRA board member and chair of the Audit Committee, Charles Cotton (p.7 of the PDF), claims the NRA “Audit Committee gave careful consideration to the criticisms” of the billing by the Brewer firm and determined that the “controls and processes already in place for review of legal invoices were adequate.” (para 8)
    • In July 2018, Cotton notes that “several NRA employees approached the Audit Committee and raised serious concerns about [Ackerman’s] business and billing practices.” As a result, the Audit Committee… ordered deeper scrutiny of [Ackerman] to determine whether its activities for the NRA were in compliance with NRA procedures and whether [Ackerman] had taken advantage of the NRA.” (para 5)
  • In Exhibit 44, former NRA TV host, Grant Stinchfield (p.16 of the PDF) provides a statement about his time working at NRA TV. Please note, Stinchfield is facing a lawsuit from Ackerman McQueen for Defamation and Business Disparagement.
    • Stinchfield says “I will not allow foes of the NRA, like [Ackerman], to silence me just because they do not like what I have to say.” (para 12)
    • Stinchfield rejects the notion he is a disgruntled employee, writing “’disgruntled’ is certainly not a term I would use to describe my emotions.  ‘Sad’ is a much better description.” (para 13)
  • In Exhibit 52, NRA CFO Craig Spray (p.165 of the PDF) explained how his first meeting with Revan McQueen, at Ackerman McQueen, ended in Revan McQueen walking out of the meeting after questioning about NRA TV analytics. (para 6).
    • Later in October 2018, LaPierre and Spray visited Ackerman McQueen in Dallas to discuss budget issues – a meeting Spray called “one of the least professional meetings of my career.” (para 9)
    • He describes a “epithet-filled tirade by Revan and Angus McQueen and other members of the [Ackerman] team.  [Ackerman] repeatedly acted as if they were enraged by our desire to cut their approximately $40 million a year budget.” (para 9)
  • In Exhibit 45, NRA General Counsel John Frazer (p. 22 of the PDF) says that he personally reviews the Brewer legal bills and any questions he’s ever had “have always been addressed to my satisfaction.” (para 6).  Without providing more detail, Frazer’s declaration notes that Brewer’s firm performs “certain work… pro bono.”