According to new reporting from both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre attempted to use the NRA’s now-former public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, to purchase a $5 million mansion for his use, shortly after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, (a photo of a Dallas, Texas, property that was reportedly considered is below). According to the reports, the deal ultimately fell through. The alleged failed purchase is part of the New York Attorney General’s ongoing investigation into the gun lobby’s tax-exempt status, two people familiar with the records told the Washington Post.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the NRA’s former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, “recently turned over information about the contemplated house purchase to the attorney general’s office, according to a person familiar with the matter.” The NRA and Ackerman McQueen are currently engaged in litigation.
In a statement to the Washington Post late Tuesday night, Ackerman McQueen said LaPierre had sought the ad firm’s assistance with the real estate transaction, a proposal it said alarmed company officials. “Actions in this regard led to Ackerman McQueen’s loss of faith in Mr. LaPierre’s decision-making,” the firm said.
The Wall Street Journal reports (emphasis added):
“The discussions about the house purchase occurred early last year, shortly after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Mr. LaPierre was concerned about his security and was interested in another residence besides his publicly known address in northern Virginia, according to people familiar with the matter.
“An NRA spokesman said the idea to buy the house was proposed by the late Angus McQueen, then co-CEO of the ad firm, as an investment that would be owned by senior Ackerman executives. “The deal was vetoed by the NRA after its full terms—including Ackerman’s intent to spend NRA money—became known to Wayne LaPierre,” said William A. Brewer III, an outside “NRA attorney. “Not a cent of NRA money was ultimately spent. Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.”
“That genesis of the discussions is disputed by others familiar with the transaction, who said the purchase was Mr. LaPierre’s idea and was to be funded by the NRA through a structure involving a limited-liability company. Ackerman was going to help manage the property, according to these people.
“Mr. LaPierre and his wife, Susan, twice visited the mansion, in an exclusive golf community outside Dallas, according to one of these people, and also toured the golf club.
“The LaPierres had the NRA cut a $70,000 check to Ackerman as earnest money for a contemplated offer, according to this person.
The Washington Post reports:
“The revelations that the NRA was involved in discussions about the Texas mansion come as the nonprofit is contending with the fallout from allegations of lavish spending by top executives.
“Leaked documents show that the NRA paid $542,000 for private jet trips for LaPierre, including a trip to the Bahamas with his wife after the Sandy Hook shooting and an array of Italian designer suits as well as the rent for a summer intern’s apartment.
“The expenses were first paid by Ackerman McQueen, which then billed the NRA as part of its multimillion-dollar annual contract, according to people familiar with the arrangement.
“Meanwhile, The Post has reported, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board received money from the group for services during the past three years, raising questions about the rigor of their oversight.
These revelations come as the NRA is facing investigations by attorneys general offices in both New York State and the District of Columbia. And in May, members of the Senate Committee on Finance sent letters to LaPierre, former NRA president Oliver North and Ackerman McQueen to turn over “letters, third-party audits, memos and other materials as they look into allegations of self-dealing and examine the NRA’s nonprofit status,” according to the Washington Post. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) also sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting the IRS investigate “recent reports of possible wrongdoing by the National Rifle Association (NRA) which enjoys status as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(4) under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC)” and has separately sought documents from the NRA, as well.