NRA on Trial: Day 4 Summary of Bankruptcy Trial
Cross examination of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre concluded today during Day Four of the six-day trial in the NRA bankruptcy proceedings, alongside video deposition evidence of LaPierre’s longtime travel consultant Gayle Stanford. Recently installed acting NRA Chief Financial Officer Sonya Rowling also testified today.
Testimony will resume Tuesday, April 13th at 10:00 a.m. EST. Notably, Judge Hale made clear that the trial was likely to spill into a third week, saying the Court would look to set aside time the week of April 19. Major moments during today’s testimony included:
- LaPierre’s Travel Expenses Took Center Stage. LaPierre explained that until recently, he had his own personal travel agent with whom he would book trips and private flights. The travel agent testified that she didn’t have a written contract with the NRA for more than two decades, between the early 1990s and 2019. LaPierre admitted to charging the NRA for private jet travel, including trips to pick up his niece in Nebraska. Despite LaPierre’s claims that he traveled private for security reasons, the travel agent testified that she never received a security policy from the NRA, nor did she and LaPierre ever discuss confidentiality.
- LaPierre’s Travel Agent Said LaPierre Directed Her to Omit Embarrassing Travel Details From Official Invoices. In deposition testimony played in court today, LaPierre’s personal travel agent said that he had occasionally instructed her how to word invoices for his travel, including invoices in which LaPierre told her to omit flights to Nebraska and the Bahamas.
- Golden Parachutes for NRA Executives, Even Those Who Were Fired: LaPierre said that he had approved a contract to pay former NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox $2 million upon his departure from the association. LaPierre admitted the NRA had “quite possibl[y]” spent $7.8 million in lawyers fees fighting not to pay Cox the $2 million. LaPierre testified that another executive, longtime NRA CFO and Treasurer Woody Phillips, “had become lax on things” by 2018, acknowledging that Phillips overrode internal NRA financial controls. Nonetheless, that same year, the NRA agreed to a consulting contract with Phillips worth $360,000 per year, which LaPierre claimed he hadn’t been aware of at the time. In addition, LaPierre said he fired former Executive Director for General Operations Kyle Weaver because he was “over his head.” Nonetheless, the NRA entered into a consulting contract with Weaver, without board approval, which paid him $1.4 million in the three years after his departure. LaPierre insisted that he “thought that was a severance agreement” and said he had signed it because “I wanted to keep him in goodwill toward the NRA.”
- LaPierre Ensured Brewer Firm Was Paid $1.2 Million the Day Before the NRA Declared Bankruptcy: In his testimony, LaPierre admitted that the day before the NRA declared bankruptcy, he instructed General Counsel John Frazer to pay a $1.2 million invoice for the Brewer firm, outside of the normal payment process, on advice of another outside counsel because “we didn’t want [the law firms] to be creditors” in the bankruptcy. LaPierre testified to having never reviewed the bill.
- LaPierre’s Non-Responsive and Meandering Answers Prompted Judge Hale and Even His Own Lawyer to Interject. For the second consecutive day, the Judge instructed LaPierre multiple times to answer the question asked, and the NRA’s own lawyer took the extraordinary step of moving to strike LaPierre’s own testimony on several instances. This culminated in the exchange below (bolding added for emphasis):
JUDGE: And I’m about to say something I’ve said for a day and a half now. Can you answer the questions that are asked?
LAPIERRE: Yes, sir, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Okay. And do you understand that I’ve said that to you more than a dozen times over the last day?
LAPIERRE: Yes, sir, Your Honor. I’m sorry. I’m doing my best to — I apologize if I’m going on too long.