A new investigation by the Washington Post has uncovered that it is not just high-profile NRA executives who have profited from the organization: Roughly one-quarter of the NRA’s unpaid board, which numbers 76 members, were paid by the NRA either directly or through businesses they control over the last three years.
The payments to NRA board members, who are tasked with overseeing the NRA’s finances, overlap with numerous questionable financial transactions by the NRA that have in part led to a New York Attorney General office investigation into the group’s finances and tax-exempt status.
The Washington Post reports (emphasis added):
“The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years to members of its board — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.
“In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.
“The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members.
“In addition to the 18 board members paid in recent years, the NRA also reported paying an undisclosed amount to a son of board member James Porter, a former president of the group. The son, who works for Bradley law firm, has been involved in extensive litigation involving guns, according to his biography. Neither father nor son responded to requests for comment.”
NRA board member and NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone told the Washington Post he was concerned about the revelations:
“‘If these allegations are correct and 18 board members received pay, you’re damn right I am,’ he said. ‘If it’s correct, the members who pay their dues should be damn concerned, too.’”
Meanwhile, an attorney who specializes in tax-exempt organizations described the breadth of financial arrangements profiting board members as “astonishing” (emphasis added):
“‘In 25 years of working in this field, I have never seen a pattern like this,’ said Douglas Varley, a Washington attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who specializes in tax-exempt organizations and reviewed the NRA’s federal and state filings from 2016 through 2018 for The Washington Post. ‘The volume of transactions with insiders and affiliates of insiders is really astonishing.’”
The Washington Post also compiled a chart of NRA board members who have been paid by the group over the last three years:
In a response to the Washington Post, an NRA spokesman “said that the number of financial relationships between directors and the NRA is ‘small,’ considering the size of the board and the organization.”
The NRA’s outside attorney William Brewer added, “Naturally, there are occasions where the NRA engages vendors who have a connection to NRA executives, employees or board members — but only when such an association works in the best interest of the organization and its members.”