Highlights from the New York Times

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s Former Chief of Staff Turns on Him, Writes Tell-All Book About “Corruption, Greed and Paranoia” at the NRA

The NYT Further Reports that “Experts… See Mr. LaPierre’s Removal As All But a Foregone Conclusion” Due to This Month’s NY AG Complaint Against the NRA

According to a new report by the New York Times, Josh Powell –– NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s former chief of staff and “the N.R.A.’s de facto second-in-command” –– is poised to release “Inside the NRA: A Tell-All Account of Corruption, Greed and Paranoia within the Most Powerful Political Group in America.” In the book, which is slated to be published on September 8, Powell “says the N.R.A. is ‘rife with fraud and corruption’ and writes that its finances ‘are in shambles,’ and that ‘it has operated in the red for the past three years, despite annual revenues of roughly $350 million.’”

This revelation comes less than two weeks after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit against LaPierre and the NRA for 18 causes of action pertaining to allegations of self-dealing and corruption at the organization. The New York Times reports that, due to this litigation, “Experts in New York charity law see Mr. LaPierre’s removal as all but a foregone conclusion, and say that without him at the helm, the N.R.A. has a better chance at avoiding dissolution.”

Additional details from the NYT report, written by Danny Hakim, include: 

  • Powell’s book claims that “waste and dysfunction” at the NRA allegedly cost “hundreds of millions”: According to Powell’s new book, “the waste and dysfunction at the N.R.A. was staggering, costing the organization and its members hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.” Powell added in a statement to the New York Times that, “What I witnessed during my time at the N.R.A. should horrify every gun owner and Second Amendment advocate. Wayne LaPierre oversees his evil circus at the expense of all those Americans who are lawful gun owners and dues-paying N.R.A. members.”
  • Two former heads of the New York Attorney General’s charities bureau say Wayne LaPierre’s departure is all but inevitable: Daniel Kurtz told the Times that “It’s inconceivable that [LaPierre will] be permitted to stay, and he’ll have a substantial amount of money to repay.” Sean Delany added that if “even a fraction of the catalog of self-dealing and fraud that is recited in the complaint” is proven to be true, then “it is impossible to see any court leaving LaPierre (or the other officers) in their positions.”
  • The NRA’s accounting firm severed ties with the organization last year: With the NRA mired in financial and legal turmoil, its longtime accounting firm, RSM, severed ties with the NRA last year, according to the Times.
  • The NRA’s horrific response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting: According to Powell’s new book, the NRA used the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 –– during which 27 people were killed and two wounded –– as an opportunity to raise money. After the shooting, Powell says that one of the NRA’s then-consultants told him, “Watch and learn. If we do this right the members will go nuts.” Powell also writes that, “membership money and donations were an open spigot” after the shooting, and that “if we needed more, Wayne would just pour ‘gasoline on the fire.’” Powell adds that, “We only knew one speed and one direction: Sell the fear.” 

This news comes at a dire time for Wayne LaPierre and the NRA. In addition to the lawsuit filed by NY AG James, DC AG Karl Racine also sued the NRA two weeks ago for allegedly exerting undue influence over the NRA Foundation. Recent reports have also noted that the NRA is “basically on life support,” with the Trump administration reportedly “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups” and the organization mired in immense financial, legal, and internal turmoil. 

  • Financial: In April, NPR uncovered a recording of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre saying that the NRA suffered “about a $100 million hit” in 2018 and 2019, and that for the NRA “to survive,” he took “about $80 million” out of the budget and “took it down to the studs.” This follows years of alleged financial mismanagement, during which 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 reportedly 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.
  • Legal: The NRA was recently hit with a class action lawsuit, and it was already facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen. 
  • Internal: According to The Guardian, the NRA’s “drop in revenues accelerated in 2019 when several large NRA donors began a drive to oust LaPierre over allegations of mismanagement and self-dealing, and to promote reforms.” These donors have boasted that “$165 million in donations and planned gifts had been withheld.” 

As noted by the New York Times report, the New York AG’s complaint alleged that Powell was fired by the NRA in December “for falsifying his travel expenses.” Previously, Newsweek reported that “Powell was the recipient of two separate sexual harassment allegations over the last two years. One reportedly involved an accuser at the NRA’s now-estranged public relations firm Ackerman McQueen. Another complaint reportedly involved an NRA employee and a settlement drawn from NRA funds.”