Highlights from Gangster Capitalism

Gangster Capitalism Podcast Uncovers New Allegations about the NRA

The second season of Gangster Capitalism, an investigative documentary C13Originals podcast hosted by Andrew Jenks, is focused on how the NRA’s “internal power struggles have exposed the group’s questionable, and possibly illegal practices which now threaten the nearly 150 year old nonprofit like never before.” In addition to chronicling the NRA’s “no good, very bad year” of internal turmoil, financial troubles, and costly litigation, the last two episodes of Gangster Capitalism have uncovered some explosive, previously-unreported news about the NRA, including: 

  • New allegations about Wayne LaPierre’s excessive spending: In an interview with an anonymous former employee of Ackerman McQueen who worked directly on the NRA account, Gangster Capitalism reports that NRA executives, including Wayne LaPierre, had American Express corporate cards “they used for charges that they wanted to hide” such as luxury travel, restaurants, suits, entertainment, and cigar bars. According to the former employee, the cards “were in Ackerman’s name, paid by Ackerman and…billed back to the NRA on invoicing.” According to the podcast, “Wayne LaPierre has blamed Ackerman for these billing practices, but it didn’t seem to bother him when he was using his Ackerman Amex.” The anonymous employee adds that, “Nothing that we did for the NRA was without Wayne’s knowledge, direction or consent. There’s absolutely no way he didn’t know what was going on.”
  • Resignations on the NRA’s fundraising team: An interview with former longtime NRA Foundation fundraiser, Scott Taesch, revealed allegations of resignations on the foundation’s fundraising team. Taesh alleged that when the NRA’s financial troubles began in 2017, the organization began hiding and eventually refusing to show him reports of where the money he raised was spent. Then, in 2019, NRA HQ allegedly told Taesh and other fundraisers that the money they raised would now pay their own salaries and expenses, in what Taesch says was a complete change in the NRA Foundation’s long-standing policy. He says when he asked what he should tell donors about the change in policy, he was told “don’t say anything.” Taesh says he resigned “along with many other field reps” in response, and told Gangster Capitalism, “I’ve dedicated my life to the [NRA], and to see what we worked for…brought down, simply because of greed, it’s really disgraceful…outright greed is what it all comes down to.” 
  • “LaPierre will be thrown under the bus”: A Gangster Capitalism interview with non-profit law expert Jim Fishman underlined the legal trouble facing Wayne LaPierre, the NRA, and its board: 
    • Wayne LaPierre: Fishman said that his “guess” for the New York AG’s investigation into LaPierre is that, “LaPierre will be thrown under the bus. I think, when the attorney general’s report comes out, LaPierre will be chopped liver.” 
    • The NRA: Fishman stated that, “The [NY AG] can go to court to restructure the [NRA], restructure its board, to oust management, to recoup management funds that were misspent, and pressure the organization to dissolve.” The NRA will have to “show that all of these transactions were fair, reasonable, and in the corporation’s best interests” and, Fishman added, “I don’t see how they can possibly do that.”
    • The NRA’s board: Fishman says that he’s “never heard of” a relationship like the NRA has with its board, in which the board member isn’t giving money to the organization, but “it’s the board member that’s getting.” Fishman surmised that “the reason for [this arrangement]…is that a happy board member will be not too rigorous against Mr. LaPierre” and added that, if he were a board member, he “would probably resign right away.” 

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