In ‘Secret Recording,’ Wayne LaPierre Says NRA Took a ‘$100 Million Hit’ from Investigations and Litigation and he Took NRA ‘Down to the Studs’ to ‘Survive’
The NRA has Been Trying to Blame Coronavirus for Financial Struggles, but Recording of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “Indicates that Many of the Organization’s Financial Cuts were Underway Well Before the Emergence of the Public Health Crisis”
According to a “secret recording” obtained by NPR, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a speech to NRA board members and staff that the NRA took a “$100 million hit” in lost revenue and “real cost to this association” in 2018 and 2019 alone due to myriad legal crises facing the organization. He also said that for the NRA “to survive,” he took “about $80 million” out of the budget and “took it down to the studs.” He added that, “We’re not out of the woods yet. We still gotta wrestle with this financial situation.”
The recording, which is from January 2020 and can be heard in full here, appears to contradict Wayne LaPierre’s recent efforts to blame coronavirus––not the NRA’s questionable financial practices or rampant legal trouble––for organizational financial struggles that include layoffs, furloughs, and reduced salaries.
The NPR report, written by Tim Mak, is the third story in one week to contradict Wayne LaPierre’s assertion that the NRA’s financial struggles can be blamed on COVID-19:
- Court filing alleges the NRA paid outside attorney “over $54 million” in the last two years: The Trace reported on Thursday that the NRA’s former longtime marketing agency, Ackerman McQueen, had alleged in a court filing that the NRA has paid attorney Bill Brewer’s firm “over $54 million” in the last two years to represent the organization “in multiple lawsuits and leading its response to investigations into possible violations of nonprofit law.” The Trace further reports that “[s]everal NRA officials and employees who have left the gun group” have said that “Brewer’s legal fees have contributed to the cash crunch that recently led to layoffs at the organization.”
- “Major missteps in recent years”: Guns & America, a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life, reports that “the group’s financial woes didn’t start with coronavirus. Major missteps in recent years left [the NRA] extremely vulnerable to the economic crisis.” Jeff Knox, a prominent NRA member, told Guns & America that “The policies and practices of the NRA, financially, for over 20 years now have been not quite what your accountant would call best practices.”
This reporting puts a spotlight on the NRA’s recent questionable financial practices and legal turmoil.
- Financial: In recent years, NRA executive pay has skyrocketed, money has flowed to ‘unpaid’ board members, and the NRA’s own board members and accountants have called into question lavish, legally suspect personal spending by its leadership––including millions of dollars’ worth of Italian suits and private jet trips for CEO Wayne LaPierre. Meanwhile, the NRA has run a deficit for three years in a row, and decreased spending for its core functions: spending for educating gun owners about safety and marksmanship dropped by nearly a quarter from 2017 to 2018, and less than 10 percent of NRA spending in 2018 went to gun safety, education, and training.
- Legal: The organization is facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, under investigation by the U.S. Senate and attorneys general in New York and DC, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen.