The NRA has Been Trying to Blame Coronavirus for Financial Struggles, but Recording of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “Indicates that Many of the Organization’s Financial Cuts were Underway Well Before the Emergence of the Public Health Crisis”
This News Comes Just Days After the Trump Administration Was Reported to Be “Hedg[ing] their Bets” on the NRA by “Aggressively Reaching Out to Other Gun Groups.”
NEW YORK –– Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, responded to a new NPR report that includes a “secret recording” of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre saying in a speech to NRA board members and staff that the NRA took a “$100 million hit” in lost revenue and “real cost to this association” in 2018 and 2019 alone due to myriad legal crises facing the organization. He also said that for the NRA “to survive,” he took “about $80 million” out of the budget and “took it down to the studs.” He added that, “We’re not out of the woods yet. We still gotta wrestle with this financial situation.”
The recording, which is from January 2020 and can be heard in full here, appears to contradict Wayne LaPierre’s recent efforts to blame coronavirus––not the NRA’s questionable financial practices or rampant legal trouble––for organizational financial struggles that include layoffs, furloughs, and reduced salaries.
“After using the NRA as his personal piggy bank for years, this recording shows Wayne LaPiere scapegoating everyone but himself for the organization’s financial woes,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Now he’s trying to blame COVID-19 for the NRA’s recent layoffs, which only serves to highlight his own self-serving leadership.”
“Like the Wizard of Oz, Wayne LaPierre created an illusion of power by fooling lawmakers into fearing the NRA’s influence. Moms Demand Action volunteers spent years unveiling the inner workings of the NRA, which is all artifice designed to protect gun manufacturers,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “As LaPierre tells his allies to ‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,’ it is clear that the NRA is weaker than it’s ever been, and any lawmaker who continues to do their bidding is in need of a brain, heart and courage.”
The NPR report, written by Tim Mak, is the third story in one week to contradict Wayne LaPierre’s assertion that the NRA’s financial struggles can be blamed on COVID-19:
- Court filing alleges the NRA paid outside attorney “over $54 million” in the last two years: The Trace reported on Thursday that the NRA’s former longtime marketing agency, Ackerman McQueen, had alleged in a court filing that the NRA has paid attorney Bill Brewer’s firm “over $54 million” in the last two years to represent the organization “in multiple lawsuits and leading its response to investigations into possible violations of nonprofit law.” The Trace further reports that “[s]everal NRA officials and employees who have left the gun group” have said that “Brewer’s legal fees have contributed to the cash crunch that recently led to layoffs at the organization.”
- “Major missteps in recent years”: Guns & America, a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life, reports that “the group’s financial woes didn’t start with coronavirus. Major missteps in recent years left [the NRA] extremely vulnerable to the economic crisis.” Jeff Knox, a prominent NRA member, told Guns & America that “The policies and practices of the NRA, financially, for over 20 years now have been not quite what your accountant would call best practices.”
This reporting puts a spotlight on the NRA’s recent questionable financial practices and legal turmoil.
- Financial: In recent years, NRA executive pay has skyrocketed, money has flowed to ‘unpaid’ board members, and the NRA’s own board members and accountants have called into question lavish, legally suspect personal spending by its leadership––including millions of dollars’ worth of Italian suits and private jet trips for CEO Wayne LaPierre. Meanwhile, the NRA has run a deficit for three years in a row, and decreased spending for its core functions: spending for educating gun owners about safety and marksmanship dropped by nearly a quarter from 2017 to 2018, and less than 10 percent of NRA spending in 2018 went to gun safety, education, and training.
- Legal: The organization is facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, under investigation by the U.S. Senate and attorneys general in New York and DC, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen.
Due to these rampant financial and legal troubles, the Trump administration is reportedly “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups”––a blow to the organization that was the single largest outside spender in President Trump’s 2016 election effort.