NRA Bankruptcy Proceedings

NRA on Trial: Day 6 Summary of Bankruptcy Trial

April 16, 2021

The second week of the NRA’s bankruptcy trial in Dallas concluded today with witness testimony from former NRA executive Craig Spray, Ackerman McQueen executive Anthony Makris, Ackerman McQueen CFO William Winkler, and deposition testimony of Woody Phillips, the former longtime CFO of the NRA, who pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify on several matters.

Major moments during today’s testimony included:

Key Points

  1. Former CFO Takes the Fifth:  Deposition testimony was read in court showing longtime NRA CFO Woody Phillips invoking his Fifth Amendment rights on several topics. He invoked the Fifth no fewer than 80 times according to the parts of his testimony read into evidence. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides rights to individuals to prevent implicating oneself in a crime or exposing oneself to criminal prosecution. Phillips is a named defendant in the New York Attorney General lawsuit against the NRA and has been at the heart of several questionable financial transactions discussed at the trial.  Despite being the NRA’s Chief Financial Officer for 26 years, the NRA’s counsel has tried to portray him as a “man not up for the job.” 
  2. LaPierre Said Lawyer Was Only Person Who Could Keep Him “Out of a Orange Jump Suit,” Confidant Says:  Anthony Makris, a longtime personal confidant of LaPierre, noted that LaPierre told colleagues that lawyer Bill Brewer was the “only one who can keep me out of jail,” and that Brewer was the only one standing between him and “an orange jumpsuit.” Others have previously made the same claim about LaPierre. Earlier this week NRA board member Philip Journey testified he believes the NRA is seeking “to avoid criminal prosecution,” and that “[i]t’s obvious to me that the next step is criminal investigation and I believe that is ongoing.”
  3. NRA’s Declining Political Power: “If you’ve looked at what has happened to the NRA’s public image in the last three years,” Makris testified, “it’s a graduate level course in what not to do.” Contrasting the present with the situation in 2016, he said the NRA today is “not heard of” on the national scene and the 2020 presidential election was a “textbook example” of what a national election looks like with a less powerful NRA.  
  4. Wayne LaPierre’s Trip to the Four Seasons: The New York Attorney General’s Office presented evidence to show that the NRA was billed for Wayne LaPierre to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona for a “personal health issue.”  Makris testified that in at least one instance, LaPierre picked him up from Las Vegas in a private jet. In at least one other instance, he and LaPierre stayed at the Four Seasons for three or four nights on the NRA’s dime, Makris testified. 
  5. LaPierre’s “Management by Chaos”:  Makris testified that Wayne LaPierre described his personal management style as “management by chaos”, where he intentionally kept senior leaders in conflict with each other so he could retain control. As an example, Makris testified, LaPierre would instruct him not to provide certain information to the NRA Treasurer’s Office or other senior NRA leaders.