Highlights from The Wall Street Journal

Wayne LaPierre’s Lavish Travel Revealed as U.S. Senators Request NRA Financial Documents

Yesterday, Mark Maremont at the Wall Street Journal reported that NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre charged the organization’s ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, more than $240,000 for expenses “related to international trips he took without providing adequate documentation.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The disclosure of the travel expenses came to light because of an extraordinary falling-out between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen. The previously unreported letter, dated April 22, played a role in the recent turmoil inside the NRA, and raises new questions about whether Mr. LaPierre benefited from dealings with NRA vendors.” Among the trips were lavish stays in the Bahamas, Italy, and Reno, Nevada.

Also yesterday, members of the Senate Committee on Finance including Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent letters to LaPierre, former NRA president Oliver North and Ackerman McQueen, the group’s longtime public relations firm to turn over “letters, third-party audits, memos and other materials as they look into allegations of self-dealing and examine the NRA’s nonprofit status,” according to the Washington Post.

Two weeks ago, a New Yorker/Trace report detailed how “a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget.” In response to the report, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has called on Congress and state charities regulators to investigate the NRA, its officers and board members to identify any violations of laws governing charities and has lodged a formal complaint with the IRS.

Brian Mittendorf, an accounting scholar who researches nonprofit finances, said of the NRA’s finances, “Like most accounting experts, I would say that the logical and most responsible reaction to stagnant revenues is to curb spending. But the NRA – whose reputation relies in part on its display of size and strength – found such thrift difficult. While the gun group’s revenue grew only about 0.7% a year over the past decade, NRA expenses grew by an average of 6.4% a year.” According to Mittendorf, “The NRA has been borrowing money to make ends meet amid this deficit spending. Having nearly maxed out its conventional lines of borrowing through banks, it’s also been borrowing from those closer to it.”

During the recent NRA convention, reports surfaced that LaPierre had claimed North was extorting him to force him to resign. Shortly after, North announced he wouldn’t be running for reelection after serving just one of the customary two one-year terms, warning board members that the organization could lose its nonprofit status.