National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne Lapierre said Wednesday that he has kept his organization’s recent bankruptcy secret from all its superiors, including its general counsel, chief financial officer and top lobbying. He also did not inform most of the board of the NRA.
At a trial in federal bankruptcy court in Dallas, Mr. Lapeer commented after taking the stand. Although NRA is solvent, it Filed for bankruptcy protection In January in an audacious bid to circumvent regulators in New York, where the NRA has been chartered for a century and a half.
The association was sued by Letitia James, the state’s attorney general. in AugustEfforts are being made to close it amid claims of mismanagement and corruption. She is seeking a million-dollar sum from Mr. Lapierre and three other current or former NRA leaders.
Nonprofit organizations have been engulfed in scandals for the past two years, with revelations of lavish spending by the NRA and its contractors – on the Zegna Suites and luxurious trips Mr. LaPierre visited to places like Lake Como in Italy and Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. . Other benefits included chartered jets for him and his family, and holidays on a contractor’s boats, which were named Illusions and Grand Illusions.
Bankruptcy proceedings at Gun Rights Group have become the latest referendum in Mr. Lepierre’s 30-year tenure – most recently by Insight – as it seeks to turn the fight with the New York Attorney General into a fight instead of free allowances is. .
“We filed this bankruptcy seeking a proper legal playing field, where the NRA can prosper and grow in a fair environment, as we believe, in New York State, a toxic, armed, political government was formed”. In his testimony.
The union intends to use bankruptcy to reincarnate in Texas. Mr Lepierre kept the filings entangled in secrecy, fearing the leaks would threaten the plan.
But the attorney general’s office and the NRA’s largest creditor, its former advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, want the case dismissed – claiming that the filing and lack of notice to the board in particular, was highly inappropriate.
Monica Connel, an assistant attorney general, said, “The process that Mr. Lepier initiated to file this bankruptcy case is itself a master class in bad faith and dishonest conduct.”
The trial of the bankruptcy proceedings began on Monday, to determine if the case would proceed.
During the two-year upheaval before the trial, the NRA was unusually quiet, shutting down its fire-breathing media outlet, NRATV, and parting ways with its former spokesperson, Dana Loesch. Donald J. in 2016 After playing a major role in helping Trump, it was largely silent during the 2020 presidential election.
But the organization remains a powerful lobbying force that has reopened the political landscape around guns. Its lasting impact was on display since two mass shootings in Atlanta and more recently Boulder, Colo., When calls for gun control were made, Stoot ran against Republican protests and the realities of the Senate filibuster.
Bankruptcy, however, is a risky gamble for the NRA and a sign of its frustration. Mr. LaPierre and his outside counsel, William A. Brewer III, an architect of the filing, may lose control of the organization. In a possible outcome, if the case is not dismissed outright, the judge, Harlin D. Hale can displace the current management by appointing a trustee to handle the daily functions of the NRA. The use of a trustee is rare in a large company going bankrupt and usually only in cases of fraud, inefficiency, or gross mismanagement.
NRA’s attorney, Gregory E. Garman argued in court against such a result this week, “A trustee is actually a death sentence.”
“The argument that a trustee assures our purpose and our role in the future of the NRA,” Mr. Garman said.
The NRA has used the lawsuit to argue that the group has reformed after doing some minor blunders. “Gifan said compliance has become a way of life at the National Rifle Association,” acknowledging that the test would have “moderately difficult-to-qualify” moments.
But those moments underpin claims of reform. Among the issues that have come up in the proceedings are that Mr. Millie Hallow, a longtime assistant to Lapierre, was retained after withdrawing $ 40,000 from the NRA for his personal use, including paying for his son’s wedding. (Before he was hired by the NRA, Ms. Hallow Found guilty A felony associated with the theft of money from an art agency.
The role of NRA general counsel John Fraser also came under scrutiny after it was revealed that he had no prior experience in such a role and only had two years of private practice. He was left in the dark over major legal decisions, even though he is the organization’s top lawyer, and was not informed in advance by Mr. LaPierre that the NRA was filing for bankruptcy. According to a former colleague, Mr. LaPierre once said that he would not use Mr. Fraser “for my parking ticket”. In a pretense statement, Mr. LaPierre acknowledged that he may have made the comment as “a joke at some point”.
Mr. La Pierre himself admitted the mistakes, including not giving notice of his use of the luxury yacht.
“I believe it should have been revealed now,” he said.
His testimony is expected to continue on Thursday.