The corruption of the NRA is almost unbelievable. When you stop and think that they have considered themselves to be kingmakers in the political arena for a couple of decades now, maybe their attitude toward silly things like laws is not all that unexpected.
Don’t forget that the NRA has also been accused of laundering Russian money that made it into our elections.
14 hours ago, 52 tweets, 49 min read
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1/ I just finished reading @NewYorkStateAG’s 169 page lawsuit against @NRA and I’m shocked beyond belief at the level of corruption, lawlessness, and self-dealing.
What follows is a THREAD that highlights the very worst abuses alleged by @TishJames.
2/ To sum it up, LaPierre & his lieutenants spent millions of dollars in membership dues paid by @NRA members who were told their #2A rights were at risk… on lavish trips & vacations, kickbacks and sweetheart deals… all in violation of NRA rules & IRS requirements
3/ According to the lawsuit, LaPierre spent *at least* $1.3 million chartering private flights between 2016 and 2018 for himself and his family members.
Turns out, he wasn’t even present on many of those flights!
4/ From May 2015 to April 2019, @NRA incurred over 1 million dollars in expenses for private flights when LaPierre was not a passenger.
5/ In October 2016, LaPierre authorized a private flight for his wife to fly alone from Madison, WI, to Kearney, NE.
Asked why she did not use a commercial airline, LaPierre testified “I think it was probably easier to fly private, more convenient.”
Cost of flight: $8,800.
6/ LaPierre and his family visited the Bahamas by private air charter on at least 8 occasions, at a cost of $500,000+ to @NRA.
On many of those trips, LaPierre and his family were gifted the use of a 107-foot yacht owned by @NRA vendor.
7/ @NRA rails against “Hollywood elite” & celebrities, but LaPierre testified he visits the Bahamas in December to attend a “celebrity retreat” organized by an individual who also happens to be a principal stakeholder in businesses that have business relationships with NRA!
8/ When LaPierre attends these retreats, which are normally held annually in the Bahamas in December, he stays at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.
9/ But don’t worry, LaPierre often visits the Bahamas in the summer as well! During these trips, he stays on a 108-foot yacht named Illusions.
It has 4 staterooms, a 16-foot jet boat, and 2 jet skis.
LaPierre described Illusions as “a big, big yacht” w/ a crew & a chef
10/ LaPierre has never disclosed his use of the yacht on @NRA Financial Disclosure Questionnaires that he, as an officer and ex officio director of the NRA, must submit to the NRA Secretary annually.
11/ LaPierre testified he has never received a gift of value in excess of $250 from an @NRA contractor or employee of an NRA contractor.
But of course LaPierre’s use of the yacht constituted a gift from an NRA contractor in excess of $250 requiring disclosure under NRA policy.
12/ LaPierre also testified that he has stayed on Illusions during two European trips for the purpose of recruiting ~celebrities~ for @NRA.
13/ @NRA uses a dedicated travel agency. But they’re not good enough for LaPierre.
@NewYorkStateAG‘s lawsuit reveals LaPierre uses his own travel consultant — and pays them exorbitant fees (with @NRA membership dues of course).
14/ In 2014, the fixed fee for LaPierre’s travel agent’s services was $15,000 a month.
In May 2015, LaPierre’s Travel Consultant’s monthly fee increased to $19,000.
15/ From August 2014 to January 2020, @NRA paid LaPierre’s Travel Consultant more than **$13.5 million**
In 2018, the NRA paid LaPierre’s Travel Consultant $2,630,531.71
In the first six months of 2019 alone, the NRA paid LaPierre’s Travel Consultant $1,007,597.80
16/ If that wasn’t enough, @NRA also reimburses LaPierre for exorbitant personal expenses.
Between 2013 and 2017, LaPierre was reimbursed for more than $1.2 million in expenses, including…
17/ Some of LaPierre’s personal expenses reimbursed by @NRA:
– $65,000 for Christmas gifts for his staff, donors, friends.
– $648.55 in gifts from Neiman Marcus to that highly paid travel consultant
– $1,590 in Christmas gifts to the co-founder of Ackerman
18/ Each of these gifts was substantially in excess of the $25 limit permitted by the IRS for business gifts. To say the least.
19/ Fancy hotel rooms for family members were also paid for by @NRA:
– $12,332.75 for his niece’s 8-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dallas, TX.
– In 2016 and 2017, LaPierre was reimbursed over $38,000 in expenses for his niece’s airfare & lodging
20/ Between 2009 and 2017, LaPierre expensed over $100,000 in membership fees for a golf club located in the Washington D.C. area.
21/ LaPierre has a separate budget to pay consultants.
It won’t surprise you that a lot of these consultant contracts were processed & paid for without any written contracts in place…
22/ Oh and how well those “consultants” made out!
@NRA treasurer Woody Phillips entered into an independent consulting agreement to continue to be paid by the NRA following his retirement.
NRA paid Phillips $30,000 per month for 5 years for “consulting services”
23/ Spoiler: Phillips provided no actual consulting services to the NRA under this agreement.
The lawsuit concludes, “Payments made to Phillips under this agreement are ex gratia payments and a waste of charitable assets.”
24/ Josh Powell, @NRA’s former Chief of Staff and the Executive Vice President of Operations, convinced an @NRA contractor to hire his wife…and then passed through her entire monthly fee of $30,000 — yes, per month — to @NRA!
25/ You won’t be surprised to learn that Powell not only disregarded his disclosure obligations under @NRA’s conflict-of interest policy, but took affirmative steps to hide the conflict from the NRA officer he was supposed to disclose it to.
26/ In 2017, Powell asked another @NRA vendor to add his father, a photographer, to its photographer rotation for NRA events.
The vendor complied with Powell’s request and proceeded to pass through at least $93,000 in expenses for his father’s services to the NRA.
27/ Powell is a piece of work. In 2018, @NRA settled a sexual discrimination claim made against Powell’s for $89K
A couple months later, Powell was accused of sexual harassment
LaPierre didn’t launch an investigation or take any disciplinary action regarding Powell’s behavior.
28/ LaPierre’s Senior Assistant joined @NRA with a criminal record of embezzling from a non-profit where she had worked in the 1980s.
29/ At some point in the 2000s, LaPierre’s assistant was accused of diverting money from @NRA to use for personal expenses.
Her corporate card was taken away, BUT she continued to have access to and use of other NRA employees’ corporate credit cards!
(What could go wrong?)
30/ In 2012, LaPierre’s Senior Assistant had @NRA pay for $18,000 in expenses incurred in connection with her son’s wedding in Minnesota.
These wedding expenses never were reimbursed by LaPierre’s Senior Assistant to @NRA…
31/ LaPierre’s Senior Assistant also loves black cars.
On a single day, she incurred over $1,100 in black car bills for her husband’s trips to and from airports.
On another occasion, she $1,300 in black car bills to transport him from New York to Washington D.C.
32/ @NRA’s biggest vendor was Ackerman McQueen. NRA reported paying Ackerman $20,324,364, in 2017, and $31,994,168, in 2018 for “public relations and advertising” services.
Over this period, Ackerman did not transmit receipts or other docs supporting its expenses
33/ @NRA agreed to an arrangement w/ Ackerman McQueen whereby it paid invoices with minimal detail and little supporting documentation
34/ Ackerman also paid for a variety of unrelated out of pocket expenses and passed those expenses through to @NRA.
The NRA used this arrangement to conceal expenditures by NRA executives—including LaPierre —many of which were personal or lacked documentation required by IRS
35/ Ackerman billed @NRA for out of pocket expenses by submitting non particularized invoices that aggregated the expenses into a lump sum amount and provided no details on the nature or purpose of the expenses
36/ The effect of the pass-through expense arrangement with Ackerman McQueen was that these expenses would be paid for by @NRA without written approvals, receipts, or supporting business purpose documentation
37/ With respect to LaPierre, the false reporting exposed @NRA to tax and penalty liability and permitted him to file false personal tax returns with the IRS.
38/ Some examples of these pass-throughs:
– Pay for meals for NRA executives at an upscale Italian restaurant
– @NRA directed Ackerman to purchase memberships to a members-only cigar bar
– Ackerman paid, and @NRA reimbursed, more than $250,000 to LaPierre’s Travel Consultant
39/ At @NRA conventions, Ackerman paid for LaPierre’s family to stay at a luxury private hotel, apart from the host hotel at which NRA employees & board members were staying.
These costs were billed to the NRA as pass-through expenses
40/ LaPierre directed Ackerman McQueen to pay for expenses related to NASCAR events, country music events, and even medical visits, and bill those through to @NRA.
41/ The Executive Director of Advancement also took part in the corruption, frequently staying at luxury hotels like the Four Seasons, the St. Regis, the Ritz Carlton, and the Beverly Hills Hotel.
He routinely stayed in suites costing over $1,500 a night.
42/ LaPierre’s wife would incur thousands of dollars of expenses for hair & makeup, which were billed through Ackerman McQueen as out of pocket expenses.
May 2016 and May 2017: @NRA paid one artist $16,359 for 3 events for LaPierre’s wife.
43/ LaPierre regularly directed @NRA to pay officers, directors, and former employees millions of dollars in “consulting” agreements without Board approval
44/ In late 2016, @NRA’s then Executive Director of General Operations was terminated
NRA security escorted him out
After, LaPierre directed @NRA to enter into an agreement under which the NRA agreed to pay the former Executive Director $60,000 a month over a 2-year period
45/ LaPierre testified that he was under the impression that it was a severance agreement, and that he authorized it out of concern that the former Executive Director might disparage the @NRA.
46/ @NRA paid a former NRA employee $30,000 a month as a fundraising consultant.
The former employee admitted that he did not keep accurate records of fundraising he conducted. He agreed that his position was not subject to outcomes or any form of metrics
47/ @NRA entered into a post-employment agreement with its Managing Director of Affinity and Licensing
The individual retired from @NRA in January 2016 but was still paid a full year’s salary, $630,000, AND paid by @NRA after his retirement:
$713,000 in 2017
$535,000 in 2018
48/ LaPierre also has his own post-retirement contract.
It provides for payments in excess of $1 million per year after LaPierre’s tenure as EVP ends due to retirement or losing a re-election bid.
49/ LaPierre testified that he did not know whether his post-employment contract was disclosed to @NRA the NRA Board
50/ @NRA was obligated to continue to pay LaPierre for years after he lost reelection or retired and *at a higher rate than his compensation as Executive Vice President*
51/ LaPierre effectively dominates and controls @NRA Board as a whole through his control of business, patronage and special payment opportunities for board members.
He paid at least 5 board members for services that were (likely) never rendered
52/ LaPierre effectively ousted former @NRA President Oliver North after he began to review @NRA’s expenses and business operations.
Board members who publicly expressed concern about @NRA’s actions were denied the committee assignments they requested and some resigned