NRA’s Downward Spiral Continues as Legal Fees Increase, While Revenue, Program Spending, and Membership Decline
A new report from The Reload this morning revealed that during the first eight months of 2021, the National Rifle Association’s financial doom spiral has only continued.
As the organization continues to fight several battles in the courtroom, legal spending was reportedly outpacing the record highs of 2020, climbing to $31.1 million in spending by the NRA’s Secretary and Office of the General Counsel. Documents unearthed by the Reload indicate legal expenditures were 20% of the organization’s expenses for the first eight months of 2021. Facing multiple litigations — and with testimony by one witness in the NRA’s bankruptcy hearings stating that LaPierre told him that NRA lawyer Bill Brewer was the only one between him and “an orange jumpsuit” — legal spending is unlikely to drop any time soon.
This has culminated in the NRA reportedly missing its own internal revenue projections by nearly $20 million. The organization’s revenue was nearly 50% lower than it was in the first eight months of 2018. This drop in revenue was driven by NRA membership reaching its lowest point in four years.
This has been coupled with dramatic spending cuts across the organizations. In recent years, the NRA has cut spending on “safety, training & education” by more than a third. According to the documents, spending by the NRA’s Office of General Counsel was reportedly ten times what the NRA had spent on safety, training, education, competitive shooting, community engagement, and other programs combined to that point in the year.
As the NRA spends more on legal fees, it will likely have to make spending cuts in other areas. As it makes spending cuts to services, it’s likely that even more NRA members will leave the group, leading to further declines in revenue. And as revenue declines, the organization may have to make more spending cuts, repeating the cycle and deepening the downward spiral.
Today’s news comes when the NRA is already mired in immense legal and internal turmoil:
- Legal: After trying to escape the lawsuits it was facing with its failed bankruptcy filing in Texas—dismissed for lacking good faith by a federal judge last year— the NRA is back to fighting the various legal cases it faces. New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit in 2020 seeking to dissolve the NRA for allegedly violating New York charities law. On the same day, DC Attorney General Karl Racine sued the NRA for allegedly exerting undue influence over the NRA Foundation. Additionally, the NRA remains locked in multiple lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen.
- Internal: Experts reportedly believe that Wayne LaPierre’s removal is “a foregone conclusion” due to the NRA’s legal troubles. During the NRA’s bankruptcy trial last year, there was testimony in open court about LaPierre’s mismanagement of the organization, with even a then-board member saying “I believe that the management is corrupted and I believe the board is corrupted. I don’t see anything there that is salvageable.” At least twelve members of the NRA’s board have resigned in the past three years. There have been reports of employee layoffs and furloughs, with court and regulatory filings suggesting the NRA had reduced its employee base by more than a third.