With Lead NRA Fundraiser Admitting He Took Private Jets Even On Trips Without Wayne LaPierre, the NRA Did Little To Explain Its Swanky Expenditures
The NRA’s ninth day on trial in bankruptcy court featured NRA witnesses including finance employee Michael Erstling and lead fundraiser Tyler Schropp, whose testimony underscored the widespread management issues and uncontrolled spending at the organization. The trial day was cut short when the NRA was forced to withdraw a fact witness — its former head of security — for violating a court directive not to watch other trial testimony.
Prior testimony elicited by the New York Attorney General and former NRA vendor Ackerman McQueen in the first half of the trial established several shocking details illustrating the severity of the NRA’s mismanagement — from millions in private jet travel by executives, to testimony demonstrating CEO Wayne LaPierre hid the NRA’s bankruptcy filing from board members, to NRA President Carolyn Meadows admitting to burning and shredding documents ahead of a subpoena.
- NRA Lead Fundraiser’s Big Travel and Expense Reports. Tyler Schropp, the longtime leader of the NRA’s Office of Advancement, admitted he flew first class on the NRA’s dime — without submitting any business justification — against official NRA policy. Allegations of Schropp’s luxurious travel have been previously chronicled in media reports. Schropp said his travel and expenses were not submitted directly to the NRA, but instead he was issued an American Express credit card from former NRA vendor Ackerman McQueen. Schropp later testified that his first class travel came to an end after the NRA’s “compliance transition” began in 2018.
- Testimony Undermines NRA’s Claims that Private Jet Travel Was Necessary for Security Concerns. Throughout the trial, the NRA has attempted to downplay the millions in private jet travel by Wayne LaPierre by claiming it was necessary for security concerns. However, Tyler Schropp testified today that he is not aware of any written policy at the NRA that required Wayne LaPierre to travel by private plane. Schropp also testified he travelled by private jet, without Wayne LaPierre, with certain NRA donors. The NRA had planned to put on its former head of security as a witness today, but was forced to withdraw him as a witness after he violated the Judge’s rule prohibiting witnesses from watching other trial testimony.
- NRA Lead Fundraiser Admits Internal Staff Wasn’t Trusted. In explaining why expensive travel and entertainment was billed through NRA vendor Ackerman McQueen, with whom the NRA is now mired in litigation, Wayne LaPierre previously testified that he had various concerns with respect to donor security and confidentiality. Today, Tyler Schropp testified that at least previously, he did not trust NRA staff with sensitive information. He also admitted that he routed travel expenses through Ackerman McQueen “for donor privacy reasons and Wayne LaPierre security and privacy reasons.” This testimony left many questions unanswered, including how travel receipts would disclose donor information (or how that information would be safer with a third-party vendor).
There are four additional days of trial scheduled, as the NRA continues presenting its side of the case. The NRA represented in court today that they plan on calling two witnesses tomorrow: board member and former president Sandra Froman and acting CFO Sonya Rowling. On Thursday, April 29, the trial will resume with the NRA recalling CEO Wayne LaPierre, and also offering their proposed CRO and external auditor as witnesses. Friday, April 30, will be set aside for rebuttal evidence from the New York Attorney General and Ackerman McQueen. Closing arguments are set for Monday, May 3.
For further, detailed information about the NRA and the consequences of this week’s trial, please email [email protected]. Everytown has also chronicled court filings and news articles about the various NRA scandals at www.nrawatch.org. A specific page dedicated to filings in the bankruptcy can be found at https://nrawatch.org/case/nra-bankruptcy-proceedings/.