NRA v. Ackerman, Virginia

NRA Amended Complaint and Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint

April 24, 2019

Filing Summary

This motion, which attached the NRA’s Amended Complaint (the NRA had filed an initial complaint 12 days earlier), asks the Court to allow the NRA to amend its allegations against Ackerman McQueen.  Of import to understanding the dispute between the NRA and Ackerman, the proposed Amended Complaint contains the NRA’s initial allegations about its request to inspect Ackerman business records and its understanding of the financial arrangement between Oliver North and Ackerman McQueen.  The relief the NRA seeks, in this proposed Amended Complaint, is for the Court to order Ackerman to provide certain business records about its work with the NRA.

Key Points

  • The NRA states, as a matter of fact, that “as Col.North prepared to assume the presidency of the NRA, he separately discussed a potential engagement by [Ackerman] as the host of an NRA TV documentary series.” (para. 22).  In later filings, Ackerman disputes this contention and claims that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre “negotiated the terms of the [Oliver] North contract directly with Lt. Col. North and a detailed term sheet was sent to [Ackerman] for completion of the formal agreement.” This is of potential import since the NRA’s bylaws prohibit payment of a NRA Board President by the NRA and this could be viewed as a way of skirting that requirement by having a vendor pay the board president (with the NRA ultimately reimbursing the expense).  
  • The NRA writes “by 2017, the NRA’s aggregate payments to Ackerman and Mercury totaled nearly $40 million annually.” (para. 13)
  • The NRA’s Amended Complaint alleges that during the course of an audit in late-2018 the NRA became concerned about Ackerman’s “out of pocket expenses”, “lack of transparency” concerning budgeting and fair market determinations, and invoices relating to personnel who might be working on multiple accounts, among other concerns. (para 18).  The NRA claims that Ackerman refused to provide sufficient documents and records to support the organization’s audit into its financial relationship with Ackerman.
  • As a contractual matter, the NRA’s Amended Complaint indicates that in the most recent contract “Ackerman insisted on – and the NRA agreed to provide – certain financial assurances” in the event the NRA terminated the contract.  These assurances included compensation for outstanding liabilities for certain third-party contractors and employees (i.e., if Ackerman had invested in personnel to service the NRA account). 
  • This initial pleading sets out the operative contracts.  The initial Services Agreement between the NRA and Ackerman was agreed to on May 1, 1999, with the operative Services Agreement dated April 30, 2017 (as amended May 6, 2018).  (para. 10)