After being pushed off the front pages of the outdoor media by the shootings in Texas and Ohio, the internal affairs of the National Rifle Association are, unfortunately, back in the news.
Yesterday morning, the Washington Post reopened the saga with a report detailing discussions regarding the proposed purchase of a $6 million mansion in a gated Dallas, Texas-area golf community for CEO Wayne LaPierre. According to that report, LaPierre, concerned that he would be targeted following the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, wanted to move from his current home to something “more secure”.
After rejecting an “upscale high rise in Dallas” the report says the LaPierres instead selected the 10,000 square foot home with golf course and lake views in Westlake, Texas. The purchase never happened, reportedly because the NRA’s longtime ad agency, Ackerman-McQueen, refused to go along with their purchasing the estate via a third-party corporation apparently formed for that purpose.
The report, essentially another chapter in the ongoing “he said-she said” legal battle between the NRA and its longtime advertising Ackerman-McQueen may be adding more fuel to the ongoing investigation of the Association in New York.
On Tuesday it was reported that NY AG Letitia James’ office had issued a subpoena to “90 present and former members” of the NRA’s Board of Directors. New York officials declined to confirm or deny the action, citing “ongoing investigations” but it’s no secret that New York and the District of Columbia are investigating the tax status of both the association and its Foundation.
Apparently, we’re not the only people in the dark about this. Several present- and former board members - have told us they’ve been unable to get information on the subpoena from the NRA.
Former NRA contributor turned dissident David Dell’Aquila fired another broadside at LaPierre and his management on Tuesday, filing a civil lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
That suit alleges that Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association, and the NRA Foundation, Inc. solicited and fraudulently obtained donations from Dell’Aqulia and “all others similarly situated.”
“Instead of spending the donated money on the solicited purposes,” the suit alleges, “Defendants used significant portions of the donated funds for purposes unrelated to the NRA’s core mission.”
Those “purposes unrelated” included “roughly $20 million” paid by the Association to Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, from April 2018 through March 2019.
According to the suit, Dell’Aquila learned of the problems “from an investigation conducted by the NRA’s former President, Lt. Col. Oliver North” and documented the timeline of events between North’s demands for answers and his summary dismissal from the President’s position at the NRA’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis earlier this year.
After laying that groundwork, the suit then alleges two counts of fraud; both against LaPierre, and one each against the National Rifle Association and the NRA Foundation.
Both seek the same awards: “damages equal to the amounts such person donated to the NRA (or NRA Foundation) during the period from January 1, 2015 to the present, together with costs, punitive damages, and attorneys fees.”
We contacted the NRA regarding Dell’Aqula’s suit and received comments from both current NRA President Carolyn Meadows and William A. Brewer, III, of the aforementioned Brewer firm.
Meadows called the suit “..a misguided and frivolous pursuit. Here’s all you need to know: this lawsuit parrots claims from an individual who has worked for anti-NRA organizations and openly campaigned against our cause and our Association. End of story.”
Brewer’s response alleges the whole matter is “part of a contrived narrative to advance the interests of Lt. Col. North, his employer (Ackerman McQueen), and to deflect attention from their conduct.”
Having spoken at length with Dell’Aquila throughout his four-phase plan to force reforms on the NRA (which include the dismissal of LaPierre and a restructuring of the Board of Directors) it is difficult to believe he has embarked on a reform campaign to “advance the interests” of a company (Ackerman McQueen) he has repeatedly described to me as a “part of the NRA problem”.
It is not hard to imagine the suit as the latest installment in a series of strategies Dell’Aquila and his group of dissident former NRA contributors have formulated with the goal of forcing the NRA Board to act. As it was explained to me, the initial three phases of their campaign were designed to encourage action without having the whole situation play out in public.
Barring that, I was told, the Board, LaPierre and the current corporate officers would be not only called to account for their actions (the officers) and inaction (the Board) which have reportedly resulted in the Association’s current plight.
This appears to be the initial part of phase four, which Dell’Aqulia dubbed “Operation Clean-Up” and is designed to reform the Association’s by-laws, internal governance, accountability, transparency, infrastructure, marketing and branding.
Unfortunately, for those gun owners and NRA members concerned by this latest spate of allegations, it’s not “End of story” as NRA President Meadows stated. In fact, a number of emails, phone calls and personal communications indicate “regular members” fear exactly the opposite may be true.
Surprisingly, the concern most expressed in those communications isn’t outrage over allegations of profligate spending and nest-feathering by senior officers in the Association, although that is a major concern.
The primary concern is considerably more simple: who speaks for them when their Association won’t or can’t?
We’ll keep you posted.