National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre's shady financial relationship with the lobby he runs is already well known thanks to diligent work of gun safety groups such as The Trace, but now those reports may actually lead to criminal charges.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that LaPierre is under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for possible criminal tax fraud.
If he's charged in some way, it may stem from self-dealing or never reporting the lavish benefits he steered to himself.
In August, he was charged in a civil suit by New York Attorney General Letitia James with taking millions of dollars of allegedly undisclosed compensation from the NRA and its vendors, in the form of free yacht trips, private jet flights for his family, exotic safaris and other benefits.
Asked at a news conference announcing the lawsuit whether she believed LaPierre had evaded personal taxes, James declined to comment but said she was referring the matter to the IRS.
The AG lawsuit claimed the NRA’s failure to include certain personal benefits in LaPierre’s W-2 annual-compensation forms “permitted him to file false personal tax returns with the IRS.”
We know LaPierre spent hundreds of thousands of NRA funds on luxury designer suits and trips overseas. We know he used NRA funds to search for a new personal McMansion in Texas, among other things. The only surprise here is that the IRS under Trump is bothering to make case of it.
It occurs to me that if LaPierre is guilty of criminal tax fraud for everything that's been reported before, it still wouldn't compare to what Donald Trump and his children have done. And it's not even close.
Compared to the hundreds of millions the Trumps have been grifting from taxpayers, LaPierre more or less stole from a lemonade stand. That doesn't mean the latter shouldn't be charged, just that Trump is in for a world of hurt when he's out of office. Every ambitious official, lawyer, and attorney general in the country -- or even just those who believe in basic accountability -- is going to want a piece of him.
Anyone who donated to the NRA in the past decade, if not longer, funded a criminal grifting operation.