David Dell’Aquila
David Dell'Aquila (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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By Lisa Marie Pane, Associated Press

Joe Olson was once such a passionate supporter of the National Rifle Association that he pledged to bequeath several million dollars from his estate to the gun organization upon his death.

But the steady drip of investigations and misspending allegations and a shakeup at the top ranks of the NRA compelled him to alter his will. The NRA will no longer get his money.

“The rot had gotten worse and I simply decided: No, I’m not giving those people my money,” Olson said.

Olson reflects what has become a new challenge for the NRA as its legal and financial issues stack up: the loss of big donors.

The NRA attributes much of its success and power to rank-and-file members who contribute a few dollars here and there throughout the year, but it’s the big-ticket donors who fuel the organization’s finances. They also play a role in who serves on the board of directors and are active on the NRA social and fundraising scene, whether it’s at galas or hunting trips.

And there are signs that some of them are growing uneasy over the NRA’s troubles.

One of them went so far to as to file a lawsuit against the NRA claiming misuse of funds and started a website that seeks changes to the NRA — from the ouster of longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre, to halving the size of the 76-member board of directors.

The donor, David Dell’Aquila, also claims that he has gotten others like him to withhold millions of dollars.

Over the years, Dell’Aquila has given about $100,000 and he and his wife pledged to bequeath several million dollars from an estate he amassed after a career as a technology consultant.

Large donors have long been a reliable source of money for the NRA, helping fuel the clout that it wields in American politics.

In 2017, the NRA received seven donations of more than $1 million, including one for more than $18 million, according to tax records. The NRA’s 2018 records are not available yet, meaning it’s too early to know how the recent turmoil engulfing the group affected contributions.

Despite the handful of million-dollar-plus donors, the group saw its overall contributions plummet from $124 million in 2016 to $98 million in 2017.

An NRA member for about 20 years, Dell’Aquila became more heavily involved after attending an annual meeting for the first time in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. A longtime hunter, Dell’Aquila said it was after that meeting that he decided to contribute big sums to the NRA, seeing it as an organization that would help preserve gun rights.

He went in with gusto, becoming a member of the Charlton Heston Society, an elite group of NRA faithful. Then, earlier this year, Dell’Aquila started to hear the rumors and see media reports of excessive spending by NRA leaders. He witnessed the showdown that spilled out in the public during this year’s annual meeting, when then-President Oliver North was denied a second term after seeking LaPierre’s resignation.

When Dell’Aquila asked some NRA directors and others at headquarters for more information on how donations were being spent, he said he didn’t get sufficient answers.

“I was just getting lip service,” he said.

A few months ago, he filed a lawsuit against the NRA claiming it has engaged in fraud and financial misconduct. The lawsuit cites many of the allegations that have emerged in other legal cases in recent months, including that LaPierre expensed hundreds of thousands of dollars in wardrobe purchases at a high-end clothier.

Carolyn Meadows, the NRA’s new president, called the lawsuit “a misguided and frivolous pursuit.”

“Here’s all you need to know: This lawsuit parrots claims from an individual who has worked for anti-NRA organizations and openly campaigned against our cause and our Association. End of story,” Meadows said.

While some big donors such as Olson and Dell’Aquila have pulled back, other big donors have doubled down.

Janet Nyce, a longtime member who along with her husband has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, said she called up NRA headquarters and felt they were open and honest about the challenges facing the organization, assuring her that the donations were being well spent.

When she got a call one day from another NRA member asking if she wanted to participate in a movement to withhold donations, she and her husband instead pulled out their wallets and wrote out checks to the NRA.

“We are supporting the NRA, there’s just no two ways about it,” she said.

Joe Gregory, who is the CEO of an investment firm and founder of the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom — a group of NRA donors who have contributed or pledged at least $1 million — chalked up the turmoil to internal politics and defended LaPierre’s expenses as a necessary part of being a CEO.

The demands pushed by Dell’Aquila, he said, “border on being unrealistic and not serious.”

He’s especially disappointed to see some of his fellow big donors start to abandon the NRA, particularly as the 2020 presidential election approaches and the NRA’s influence in preserving the Second Amendment is at stake.

“It’s important that we stick together,” he said.

For Dell’Aquila’s part, he’s not ready to back down from his fight.

He’s even planning to attend next year’s annual meeting, which will again be held in Nashville. He said he wants to see if LaPierre and others in the inner circle will talk with him.

“I’m not one to back down,” he said.

See Also:

TTAG Talks With NRA Dissident Donor David Dell’Aquila

Dell’Aquila Files Multi-Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit Against Wayne LaPierre, NRA and NRA Foundation

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  1. So….

    A “mark” calls up the con artist, and asks if the con artist is swindling the “mark”. Re-assured the “mark” is not being conned, the “mark” gives the con more money.

    Do I have that right?

      • “So…. A “mark” calls up the con artist, and asks if the con artist is swindling the “mark”. Re-assured the “mark” is not being conned, the “mark” gives the con more money. Do I have that right?”

        “Yes, yes you do.”

        Kewel. Did I win the Interwebz today?

        • “No, this “insight” is about the same level as water is wet, sky is blue, women have problems.”

          Well, rats.

  2. Over the years, Dell’Aquila has given about $100,000.

    That’s nothing. That won’t even cover five suits for Wayne or six months of living expenses for his attractive, young “assistant”.

  3. the nra is weakening itself and alienating it’s supporters (they lost me forever on their bumpstock BS stance I was literally filling out the page to pay for a lifetime membership when I heard the news and now they will never get another cent from me) at the most critical time in America since 1776 the dims have vowed to ban guns by exec order if necessary and the “mighty” nra is turning to dust

  4. well I want to see what’s going on with the NRA before I renew my membership I know it’s not much but every little bit counts

    • Those little bits really add up when you have millions of members. Too bad Wayne is doing everything in his power to alienate current and prospective members with his greed and ego.

  5. “The NRA’s 2018 records are not available yet”

    When was this article written?

    “The records show that the NRA froze its pension plan for employees at the end of last year, a move that saved it close to $13 million, and obtained a $28 million line of credit by borrowing against its Virginia headquarters.

    Despite that, the nonprofit group, four affiliated charities and its political committee together ended the year $10.8 million in the red. In 2017, the six groups ended the year with a $1.1 million shortfall.”


    I’m interested in hearing how this year works out. It seems like it should be even worse.

    • The NRA’s 2018 990 tax form is not available yet. That is what is going on! It should become public this week. The IRS filing deadline (with the 6-month extension) is November 15.

      What you quote comes from an NRA statement on their finances that was made at the end of May (https://freebeacon.com/issues/nra-membership-dues-contributions-rebounded-in-2018) and from various other unofficial sources. Realize that the NRA’s statement is a summary of the the six NRA groups combined: the NRA, the NRA Political Victory Fund, the NRA Special Contribution Fund, the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund, the NRA Freedom Action Foundation, and the NRA Foundation, Inc.

      • With the old articles being posted here I wasn’t sure if this was current. Why isn’t the NRA professional enough to file their taxes on time? With all of the money they spend on lawyers, marketing, and Wayne, do they have to take out a loan to get some accountants?

        • What do you mean? I have yet to work for a business that doesn’t file for an extension. Filing an extension is quite normal and has no legal consequences whatsoever for a tax exempt non-profit like the NRA.

          The NRA has been taking out loans for at least the past 3 years, as they have spent more money every year since 2016 than they brought in. The word is that the VA HQ was mortgaged and that the main NRA organization took out other loans, such as from the NRA-ILA, the NRA Foundation and from a bank.

        • It is not an old story, I just read the same article in my local paper tonight. Yes, the events are old but the squirrels at AP have been too busy chasing the impeachment nut to see this one.

  6. I received a mailing asking me to renew my membership. I sent their envelope with the
    message: No more money until Wayne is gone.

    • Good. I’m not the only one. On each request for donations, I write in red “No $ until Lapierre is gone!” and mail it back in the enclosed postage-paid envelope. I’m not a multi-millionaire donor, but I’ve been a Life member since the 1970’s and currently a Benefactor Life Member.

      Sooner or later these actions add up. I also shifted my Amazon Smile Donations to the Second Amendment Foundation. Recommend all Amazon Prime members do something similar.

      The only money the NRA will get from me are the renewal fees for my RSO and Instructor ratings.

      • “On each request for donations, I write in red “No $ until Lapierre is gone!” ”

        The fund raising organization is not the NRA, it is a contracted service. Sending complaints to them is pointless. Envelops that do not have checks inside are discarded, not collected and analyzed for complaints.

        Send your rejections directly to NRA HQ.

    • Same here, and also in red pen. I actually allowed my membership status to fully expire, and I told them exactly why.

      So, the article above states financial stats for 2016 and 2017. 2018’s numbers aren’t available yet, and we’re now nearing the end of calendar 2019 (I don’t know what their fiscal year is). At **some** point, their Board will need to make a hard decision and have “the talk” with Wayne, Marion, et al.

      Or maybe they’ll just ride the organization into the ground and siphon off their salaries as long as possible into personal retirement. Who knows.

  7. Keep in mind that in 2018 while the NRA was borrowing money and freezing pensions, Wayne was trying to buy a $5 million mansion with the NRA’s money. Also, Wayne was cashing in on HIS pension.

  8. Who wrote this story? The New York Times? It looks like the disinformation shoveled by Bloomberg. I’m sure he just loves dividing his enemy and laughs that the division is being perpetrated by his enemy. Nice job.

    • Attention! The indoctrination is weakening on the subject, emergency alert!

      Reapply Fox news stat, paging Dr. Sean Hannity and Dr. Laura, to the ER, code blue.

      Immediately start a Rush Limbaugh drip, push 24–7 Fox and friends.

      • I was a faithful daily listener long ago to all those you mentioned. Started with Rush back in the early ’90s, Dr. Laura about 15 years ago, and Hannity back when he was on “Hannity & Combs”.

        All of them (plus Mark Levin and others) turned into loudmouths as soon as they became top-tier celebrities. At that point, when you’re earning millions $$ per year, your original focus on conservative ideologies becomes supplanted by the need to fulfill your contract and just pull in viewers. Ratings become the goal, and they all turned into “Right” versions of their “Left” counterparts, meaning they started their demeaning, mud-throwing antics that was just downright embarrassing. If you know your (conservative) logic will stand on its own and remain superior to Leftist propaganda, then there’s absolutely no need to lower yourself to the Left’s standards of finger pointing and name calling. I stopped listening/watching all of them years ago. Mark Levin’s the worst of them…acts like a 12-rd-old.

  9. There isn’t a much better time to break up the NRA and form something else than under Trump. Unless you want to risk another Bush or Clinton. NRA members should jump ship to the GoA

  10. I’m still “wait and see”.

    I think most of Wayne’s expenses will be justifiable in the end.

    The one I’m worried about is the DC investigation into the NRA Foundation donation to the Youth for Tomorrow charity that Wayne’s wife is affiliated with. It was probably for a good cause but likely violated the NRA Foundation charter. I don’t think Youth for Tomorrow has a trap or target shooting program or a need for the NRA School Shield program.

    • “I think most of Wayne’s expenses will be justifiable in the end.”

      Including the $5 million mansion purchased with NRA funds and the luxury apartment for Wayne’s intern Babe?

      Now I’m understanding how Trump was elected, some people will believe anything they were told.

      • “Now I’m understanding how Trump was elected, some people will believe anything they were told.”

        It sure as hell has worked for the Leftist scum like yourself… 😉

      • “Some people will believe anything they’re told”

        Do you mean things like “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” ?

  11. Lets be realistic. There is an Italian term called “Realpolotik” which is simply facing up to the nefarious world of corruption and politics which is really one and the same and always has been. It boils down to not if the NRA is guilty or not, what it boils down to is that if you are to damn stupid not to start pouring money into their war chest you are going to lose most of your gun rights after the 2020 elections. That’s not bullshit that’s the truth as the NRA is the only pro-gun organization that is big enough and powerful enough to win. They have the clout but its going to take billions to fight Bloomberg whether he gets nominated or not for Democratic candidate. That is also cold hard “Realpolitic”. I am hoping the majority of gun owners in the U.S. are not as cheap and as stupid as the people here on TTag. If they are we are as doomed as the the sun will also rise in the morning. Time grows short as 2020 is only 1 month away and giving any money at the last minute is not going to cut the mustard so to speak.

    • “That’s not bullshit that’s the truth as the NRA is the only pro-gun organization that is big enough and powerful enough to win.”

      Not seeing NRA associated with any meaningful “gun rights” court cases lately. Realpolitik dictates that if you keep pouring money into a losing proposition, you will go broke and lose all your leverage. Delaying the inevitable is not winning. Not winning is not a victory.

      The animal dinosaurs were fortunate to die out quickly. The dying NRA dinosaur endangers others around it. The gun-grabbers are flanking the Maginot Line of the NRA, and the NRA, like the government behemoth it mirrors, cannot adapt and change fast enough.

      • Sam your ignoring all the many, many times the NRA has won against the gun grabbers. If we would have fired General Patton in WWII the few times he fked up WWII would have lasted much longer. In other words you do not throw out the baby with the bath water. You have to be able to see the big Historical picture and anyone, and I mean anyone who has studied the history of the NRA cannot deny the fact that without them we would have lost all our gun rights many decades ago. I am not making excuses for the mess they are in now but cutting the NRA’s throat this election year is simply giving Bloomberg the green light to rape away all of our gun rights and you can be damn sure that is what he is planning to do.

        Gun owners only have two choices, help the NRA or help Bloomberg by cutting the throat of the NRA, its that simple, its not rocket science.

        • “Sam your ignoring all the many, many times the NRA has won against the gun grabbers.”

          1. I don’t care what NRA did a hundred years ago, or even 50. The organization is ineffective, bent on survival, negotiating rights away (to borrow a phrase)

          2. Patton wasn’t corrupt, and he paid for his won suits (uniforms); even his enemies respected him.

    • It’s Realpolitik and the term is German: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realpolitik

      The NRA just spent only $300k in the VA election, while Bloomberg spent $2.5M. The NRA’s lawyer, Bill Brewer, makes $100k PER DAY. Wayne LaPierre makes more than $1M per year. I guess the VA election wasn’t worth more money. The NRA certainly has its priorities. The “war chest” is being used to enrich the few. That’s it! The NRA is a racket.

      By the way, a summons has been issued to Wayne LaPierre in the NRA v. Ackerman McQueen lawsuit: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.txnd.321485/gov.uscourts.txnd.321485.25.0.pdf. More NRA money going down the drain for lawyers.

      A pissed off NRA Endowment Life Member.

    • The NRA bent the knee to the San Fransisco city council. They don’t even have the fortitude to sue a municipality for the literal definition of Libel. If they can’t even stand up to the left when being labeled as terrorists then their purpose as an organization has failed. Any political pull, ties, or money they once had is now gone. They surrendered. It’s now up to us to support other organizations that have the will to continue the fight.

  12. How can they be open, honest, and assuring that they are spending donations appropriately if they refuse to have an independent audit? They’re covering their asses and denying everything. No admissions, no answers to legit questions — just claims that people who question the Wayne regime are anti-gunners in disguise.

  13. To the guy who said maybe Wayne’s expenses were justified, please contact me, I have a great real estate deal you should be in on. LOL

    To Mr. Joe Olson, please support GOA, SAF, FPC, and local state Pro 2A lobbying groups. As far as who your leaving millions to, I’m your man. I’ll invest it wisely and promise not to buy suits that cost more than 1500 bucks. 🙂

    • Hell, I’ll one up ya….I’ve never owned a suit and never will. I will invest only in guns, ammo and farm equipment. Now about those internships…….

  14. The NRA should be more concerned about the small donors like me.
    I haven’t given the NRA a cent in 3 years. Except maybe when my 5 years is up.
    As long as Wayne LaPierre is there to waste my money on himself.
    They get nothing.
    Ive been giving to The GOA instead.

  15. With six different sides to the nra, sounds like a money laundering scheme to me. Might be a Ponzi scheme in reverse with the borrowing. Ain’t no body worth what lepueh wants. If you ain’t invited to the party why buy the refreshments? Some people on here sound like street mafia, you don’t buy our insurance, we break your windows. Anyone who buys a used car is pretty damn gullible if they believe the salesman and don’t test drive the car, check the records for the vin numbers, take it to their own trusted mechanic.
    I know you have to wine and dine the legislators, take them to hunting lodges up in Canada, donate heavy to their campaigns. But, and this is a very big ass but, you don’t need to wine and dine yourselves. Justifying peppy lepueh’s expensive expenses going to be like what dog said as he slid his butt across the sandpaper “RUFF! ” There many organizations more deserving of our generousity.
    NRA, clean your house or tear it down…

  16. It’s easy, if you don’t like it don’t join it!! But it’s still America and we make our own choices and no man will ever tell me what to do, especially no one on the internet

  17. And now matters are worse, a committee of the House of Representatives is paying attention to all the public reports of corruption in the NRA and is asking the IRS and DoJ to get into it.
    Oversight Subcommittees Refer NRA Leadership’s Alleged Financial Fraud for Investigation

    “Public reporting of self-dealing, private inurement of earnings, and possible financial fraud on the part of the NRA and its senior leadership represent serious allegations that demand an independent and thorough investigation by the IRS,” Connolly and Raskin wrote. “According to recent reporting, several NRA board members have personally profited by rendering services to the very organization for which they are expected to provide independent oversight.”


    • Just noticed this was a news story from several weeks ago.Even so, a House committee referring to the IRS and DoJ specific complaints about the NRA violating Federal law is serious business.

      Happily for Wayne LP and his sycophants, they have all of our donations to use in their personal defense.

  18. Silly question, but what’s the GOA been doing with all these supposed former NRA members joining? They’ve reported a membership increase of 20% to 2 million or so. Ok.. .that’s impressive.
    Outside of the Bump Stock lawsuit filed in conjunction with the VCDL, what have they done?
    Looking for legit information because if they were present in VA, it sure didn’t show.

  19. I sat at a Patriot meeting with “PTSD veterans” just before Obama left office.
    1,000 were in attendance as GOA president Larry Pratt went after the NRA for
    rolling with Obama on restricting these vets gun right – the NRA stand was empty!
    I go to their pages and their affiliates, they censor comments to cover themselves..
    These groups are all controlled – Wayne LaPierre is a CFR member and attack me as a conspiracy theorist and you will show what you are!!

  20. Dear NRA…..
    Stop “negotiating” excuses to INFRINGE on OUR RIGHTS… If there must be background checks, let’s try this idea… Are there any ‘legislators’ that are interested in a UnConstitutional Background Check?

    Since SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED means exactly that..

    Let’s try a “Background Check” that DOES NOT INFRINGE on anybodies RIGHTS…A FULL, IN DEPTH background check for ALL Politicians, Bureaucrats, and ALL government employees, and set MINIMAL INTELLIGENCE, JOB SKILLS AND CHARACTER QUALITIES that must be met before they can run for office, be appointed or hired.

    That way, WE, THE PEOPLE, get a much better class of politicians and bureaucrats, as well as EMPLOYEES that can be trained to do the jobs they are being hired for.
    Any bets on how hard the political class will fight to prevent it?
    THAT would be a Background Check that nearly ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS will support and I don’t much care if the illegals and their sycophants don’t like the idea.

  21. While at one point Wayne LaPierre may have done good works, at this point he is too divisive, and to much of a lightning rod for controversy. This Life Establishment Heritage Whatever else we can get you to donate if we call you this Member won’t give another dime until Wayne is gone. And that’s what I tell every phone caller.

  22. All these guys shooting themselves in the foot. [headshake]

    Now hear this: Yes, the NRA has some major issues. But like it or not, it also is the public face of the millions of gun owners who are not members. It goes down (ostensibly with the help of the whiners here, and others), and Bloomberg sticks his boot on our throats.

    Whether or not GOA USCCA, etc. are as or more effective is immaterial. The public perception is fixed on the NRA. Most anti’s and undecideds don’t even know who GOA is, much less the rest.

    What I’m reading here is cutting off noses to spite faces.

    Not good.

    • The NRA is still a $300M-$400M per year organization that still loses $10M-$20M per year due to overspending, still spends only less than $1M per year on 2A lawsuits, and still spends more than $1M per year on its CEO.

      The NRA is a racket! The NRA has been making itself a target in the public with rhetoric, because it generates donations. That’s it! The NRA isn’t actually doing very much in the 2A space. It takes a lot of credit for the work of actual 2A organizations, though.

      Think of it this way, the current SCOTUS case that the NRA has probably cost them about $1M in total over several years of litigation. With the NRA’s revenue, they could do 300-400 SCOTUS cases EVERY YEAR, but they don’t.

      This is the very first SCOTUS case the NRA actually has. Makes you wonder, right? A supposed 2A organization that generates over $1B in revenue every 3 years had not one SCOTUS case in its entire history?

      The NRA spent only $10M in the 2018 midterms, by the way. They were vastly outspent by gun control organizations. For comparison, the NRA spent $25M in the 2014 midterms.

      The NRA has its priorities. Cronies first, 2A last! The rest is just a gigantic PR machine to keep the racket going. Wayne LaPierre and his cronies refuse to change that.

  23. The New York Times? It looks like the disinformation shoveled by Bloomberg. I’m sure he just loves dividing his enemy and laughs that the division is being perpetrated by his enemy.


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