NRA v. Ackerman, Virginia

NRA’s Complaint Concerning Ackerman “Leaks”

May 22, 2019

Filing Summary

Only weeks after filing its initial complaint against its longtime public relations vendor Ackerman McQueen, the NRA filed a second lawsuit in Virginia state court (Circuit Court, City of Alexandria) against Ackerman.  This Complaint, which was later consolidated to a single court docket (with the NRA’s other actions against Ackerman in Virginia), alleges causes of action for Breach of Contract and Breach of Fiduciary Duty relating to alleged leaking of confidential information to the media.  In the complaint, the NRA discusses the alleged “extortion” attempt by its Board President Oliver North to Wayne LaPierre. 

Key Points

  • In attempting to rebut allegations about clothing and travel expenses routed through Ackerman, the NRA confirms the receipt of wardrobe by LaPierre, writing “subject to billing procedures [Ackerman] set up, LaPierre over a fifteen year period incurred wardrobe and related expenses for countless television appearances, filming commercials, and other outward-facing brand development activities.”  The Complaint adds that Ackerman “should not have incurred (let alone sought reimbursement for) any expense which it believed inappropriate.” (para. 14)
  • The NRA acknowledges receiving reports that Ackerman employees “regularly [took] advantage of their favored position and the numerous roles they played at the NRA.” The Complaint includes discussion of a lack of transparency regarding annual budgets, out of pocket expenses that lack “meaningful documentation”, and concerns that Ackerman was improperly invoicing the NRA for employees who did work for other Ackerman clients.  (para. 16)
  • The NRA details the alleged “extortion” attempt by its Board President Oliver North. The Complaint claims North told Wayne LaPierre, on the eve of the 2019 NRA Convention, that Ackerman planned to disseminate a letter that would be “bad” for LaPierre, including “a laundry list of allegations” relating to wardrobe, travel, and entertainment expenses paid for by Ackerman (and then invoiced back to the NRA), in addition to revelations concerning “sexual harassment accusations against an NRA staff member.” The Complaint alleges that North said the information would not be publicized if LaPierre agreed to resign and withdraw the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman.  North allegedly offered, if LaPierre would agree to the deal, that LaPierre could secure an “excellent retirement” from Ackerman. (para 26-27)