New York Attorney General Letitia James took action in August to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA), following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the powerful gun rights group is “fraught with fraud and abuse.” James claimed in a lawsuit that she found millions of dollars of financial misconduct, contributing to a loss of more than $64 million over a three-year period. Top NRA executives are accused of misusing charitable funds for personal gain, awarding contracts to friends and family members, and providing contracts to former employees to ensure loyalty.
James has jurisdiction over the not-for-profit organization because it is registered in New York state. The NRA is expected to contest the complaint, which names the NRA as a whole, along with four current and former NRA executives: Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former Chief Financial Officer Woody Phillips and former chief of staff Joshua Powell.
The complaint lists dozens of examples of alleged financial malfeasance, including the use of NRA funds for vacations, private jets and expensive meals. In a statement, James’ office said that the charitable organization’s executives “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight” that contributed to “the waste and loss of millions in assets.” The lawsuit seeks to dissolve the NRA in its entirety and asks the court to order LaPierre and other current and former executives to repay unlawful profits. It also seeks to remove LaPierre and Frazer from the organization’s leadership and prevent the four named individuals from ever serving again on the board of a charity in New York.
LaPierre, who also serves as CEO, has held the top position at the organization for nearly 30 years. He stands accused of using charitable funds for personal gain, including a post-employment contract valued at more than $17 million that was not approved by the NRA’s board of directors. The lawsuit claims that LaPierre received more than $1.2 million in expense reimbursements over four years, including gifts for friends, travel expenses and memberships at golf clubs and hotels. It also alleges he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private plane trips, including for extended family when he was not present; and includes more than $3.6 million on luxury black car services and travel consultants in the past two years.
Those who attempted to blow the whistle on this behavior, the suit claims, were retaliated against by LaPierre.