Has The NRA’s CEO Been Self-Dealing?

Written by SK Ashby

The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently accused their marketing firm, Ackerman McQueen, which also produces NRA-TV, of over-billing the gun lobby for lavish expenses and double-billing the lobby for payments made to former president Oliver North.

Those accusations sent Oliver North heading for the exits and, on this way out the door, he accused NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre of engaging in dubious financial behavior of his own.

Now, this may or may not be what North was referring to, but Ackerman McQueen has now fired back at the NRA and revealed that LePierre charged the ad agency for expensive trips to Italy, Hungary, and the Bahamas among other places.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre charged the group’s ad agency over $240,000 in expenses related to trips he took to Italy, Hungary, the Bahamas and other locations without providing any documentation, according to a letter from the ad agency obtained by The Wall Street Journal. Sources told the newspaper that LaPierre charged some of the expenses from trips to Budapest, Palm Beach, and Reno on ad firm Ackerman McQueen’s credit cards. The firm was subsequently reimbursed by the group over time, but Ackerman McQueen told NRA’s board in the letter that LaPierre failed to provide adequate documentation for all of his expenses. NRA attorney William Brewer told the newspaper that LaPierre’s trips were all work-related, and the payments were routed through the agency for “confidentiality and security purposes.”

Ackerman McQueen was eventually reimbursed by unspecified officials at the NRA, not LaPierre himself, and that raises more questions for me.

To say that LaPierre routed payments through the marketing firm for "confidentiality" purposes makes it appear to me that LaPierre was trying to hide the fact that he's using the gun lobby like a personal piggy-bank. It looks like a half-assed attempt to hide self-dealing.

Among other things, the Wall Street Journal reported that the lobby has actually spent over $440,000 (including the $240,000 billed to Ackerman McQueen) on LaPierre's trips which includes $200,000 he spent on luxury suits in Beverly Hills.

To be honest, I had no idea it was possible to spend that much on suits. A quick search tells me LaPierre must have bought anywhere from 50 to 70 suits at about $3,000 each, give or take.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that LaPierre's wife accompanied him on his "work" trips to Italy.

I'm sure this information will be of interest to the New York attorney general's office which is reviewing the NRA's tax-exempt status.