NRA Bankruptcy Proceedings

NRA on Trial: Day 7 Summary of Bankruptcy Trial

April 20, 2021

Week three of the NRA’s bankruptcy trial in Dallas began today with witness testimony from three current and former NRA board members that raised questions about the competence of NRA management. But, the most striking part of today’s trial was a deposition of NRA President Carolyn Meadows that was read into evidence, in which Meadows admitted to burning and shredding documents. In addition, video deposition testimony of Woody Phillips, the former longtime CFO of the NRA, was played in open court with Phillips invoking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to testify on several matters.

Major moments during today’s testimony included:

Key Points

  1. 🚨NRA President Admits Burning and Shredding Documents Ahead of Subpoena🚨. In a deposition read into evidence, NRA Board President Carolyn Meadows acknowledged that she “shredded and actually burned” her notes from phone calls and meetings in the early part of 2019. She said she did so because NRA General Counsel John Frazer told her “they could be subpoenaed or used.” Meadows described the conversation with Frazer as a consultation, and said the destruction of documents occurred ahead of receiving a formal document hold notice. After shredding and burning the existing notes, Meadows testified that she stopped taking notes. In his testimony two weeks ago, Frazer confirmed he was aware of this prior testimony from Meadows about document destruction, adding “she later testified that it was someone else that she had discussed it with.”
  2. Meadows’ Admission Could Raise Questions About Potential Unlawful Destruction of Evidence. While further information is necessary, Meadows’ admission could raise the prospect of potential charges relating to destruction of evidence or obstruction of justice. 
  3. Former CFO Pleads the Fifth. Deposition testimony was played in court showing longtime NRA CFO Woody Phillips invoking his Fifth Amendment rights on several topics, including questions about Wayne LaPierre’s travel, fundraising arrangements with NRA vendors, and LaPierre’s relationship with former longtime PR firm Ackerman McQueen, among other topics. 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 invoked the Fifth no fewer than 80 times according to the parts of his testimony. 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.” 
  4. Longtime NRA Board Member Owen “Buz” Mills Calls NRA Management “Corrupted” and Says “I Don’t See Anything That is Salvageable.” Mills, who has been on the NRA board since 2009, called CEO Wayne LaPierre a “trainwreck” as a manager of the NRA, and stated his belief that the NRA’s current problems were “our fault” because “[t]he board had failed to provide adequate direction and supervision.” When asked about the NRA’s purported “self-correction” that has been at the heart of the NRA’s defense during the trial, Mills testified “I believe that the management is corrupted and I believe the board is corrupted. I don’t see anything there that is salvageable.” 
  5. Former NRA Board Member Esther Schneider Says She Was Sidelined After Asking Questions. Schneider is a former board member who joined two other board members to publicly announce their 2019 resignations from the NRA, claiming they had been “stonewalled, accused of disloyalty, stripped of committee assignments and denied effective counsel necessary to properly discharge our responsibilities as Board members.” In her testimony, Schneider expanded on those allegations, saying that she had repeatedly asked management for internal control policies and procedures, including “a list of questions” regarding a lack of internal transparency, spending by Wayne LaPierre, and insider benefits, among others, which she said “went nowhere.” She testified that the board’s counsel as well as the NRA’s now-President Carolyn Meadows dismissed her concerns, and recounted receiving “an admonishing letter” about her questions from Meadows. Schneider also testified, “[t]here are no decisions made pertaining to the board or the operation of the NRA that do not have Wayne [LaPierre]’s blessing.”