Wayne LaPierre
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

By Jake Bleiberg, Associated Press

Wayne LaPierre flies exclusively on private jets, he sailed around the Bahamas for “security” and he never sends emails or texts in the course of his work running the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group.

LaPierre’s testimony this week during the National Rifle Association’s high-stakes bankruptcy trial offered a rare window into the work and habits of the notoriously secretive titan of the American firearms movement.

Seldom seen in public outside choreographed speeches and TV appearances, the 71-year-old was blunt and occasionally combative under lawyers’ questioning. He took the virtual witness stand in a federal case over whether the NRA should be allowed to incorporate in Texas instead of New York, where the state is suing in a separate effort to disband the group over alleged financial abuses.

LaPierre’s testimony revealed him to be an embattled executive defending his leadership and punching back against what he characterized as a political attack by New York Attorney General Letitia James. But he also tried to acknowledge enough mistakes and course corrections to avoid having the NRA’s reins handed to a court-appointed overseer — a move he said would be a death blow to the 150-year-old group that claims 5 million members.

The NRA declared bankruptcy in January, five months after James’ office sued seeking its dissolution over allegations that executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts and other questionable expenditures.

The NRA contends that its Chapter 11 filing is a legitimate maneuver to facilitate a move to a more gun-friendly state, Texas, and was made necessary by a Democratic politician who has “weaponized” her state’s government. Lawyers for James’ office, meanwhile, say it’s an attempt by NRA leadership to escape accountability for using the group’s coffers as their piggybank.

LaPierre appeared on camera before a court in Dallas on Wednesday and Thursday and was grilled by lawyers for New York and Ackerman McQueen, an Oklahoma City-based advertising agency that says the NRA owes it more than $1 million.

The questioning has focused on LaPierre’s management of the NRA and the legitimacy of his filing for bankruptcy without first informing most of the group’s top executives and its board.

On Wednesday, a lawyer for New York asked why the state’s investigation had turned up no emails or text messages from LaPierre.

“I’m old fashioned,” he replied. “I haven’t sent any emails or texts.”

Wayne LaPierre NRA
Dan Z for TTAG

The allegations of financial abuses and mismanagement have roiled the NRA and threatened LaPierre’s grip on power. Political infighting spilled out in public during the NRA’s 2019 annual meeting, where its then-president Oliver North was denied a second term. Tensions also eventually led to the departure of a man who’d been seen as LaPierre’s likely successor, Chris Cox, who headed the group’s lobbying arm.

To be sure, it’s not unusual for chief executives of organizations the size of the NRA to travel by private plane or live lifestyles beyond the means of most people. But LaPierre’s alleged misspending of NRA membership dues came even as the group was urging supporters to donate so that it would have enough cash to battle gun control efforts.

Board members and former NRA leaders who support LaPierre didn’t respond to requests for comment or referred questions to the NRA. Others who are skeptical of LaPierre’s leadership said the trial has only reaffirmed their concerns.

“I’m looking for the next Wayne,” said Phillip Journey, a board member and Kansas judge who is set to testify during the trial next week. “This can’t go on forever.”

LaPierre said Thursday that he kept the bankruptcy secret from the full board because he was worried that someone on it would leak the plan. “We were very concerned,” he testified.

He also said he was within his authority to file for bankruptcy with only the assent of the board’s three-member special litigation committee, he attacked James and New York’s financial regulator as “corrupt,” and he repeatedly strayed beyond the bounds of yes or no questioning to defend his record.

Wayne LaPierre NRA
NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

LaPierre’s efforts to explain his actions led to opposing lawyers moving to strike from the record much of what he said after nearly every question. He occasionally raised his voice and his expansive answers drew repeated warnings from his own attorneys and the judge.

“Can you answer the questions that are asked and do you understand that I’ve said that to you more than a dozen times in the last two days?” Judge Harlin Hale asked LaPierre on Thursday.

“I understand your honor,” he replied. “I apologize if I’ve gone too long.”

LaPierre also, however, showed moments of regret and referred repeatedly to the NRA’s “self-correction.”

wayne lapierre caribbean yacht security
Shutterstock

For instance, he defended summer sailing in the Bahamas on a large yacht he borrowed from a Hollywood producer who has done business with the NRA. LaPierre said the family trips were a “security retreat,” noting that some came as he was facing threats months after mass shootings.

But he acknowledged that not mentioning the voyages on conflict-of-interest forms — which New York’s lawsuit contends violated NRA policy — was an oversight.

“I believe now that it should have been disclosed,” he testified. “It’s one of the mistakes I’ve made.”

 

71 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know why I clicked on this link cuz I just don’t care, he is part of the swamp he is part of the problem I hope it goes down in flames!

    • I wish Wayne and his cronies hadn’t treated the NRA and the dues that I and millions of others paid as his personal piggy bank while failing to defend, let alone advance gun rights.

      Looks like we’re both disappointed.

    • If wishes were horses, we would have seen LaPierre drawn and quartered by four fine Arabian stallions years ago.

      The silly SOB can’t even understand he’s not running the show at the hearing, or trial. He wants to run at the mouth, and dicate how things are going to be. The judge needs to have him jailed for contempt.

  2. I get that much of this stuff is fueled by leftists looking to undermine the NRA. At the same time, LaPierre has dug his own grave on this, he needs to get into the bed he made. If he really cares about the organization and the principals for which it fights, he would go ahead and either name a successor or allow the board to vote and appoint one and step down. He’s been at this long enough, and should have built himself a good nest egg. He should get out of the way and go enjoy it while someone with drive, vision, and way less baggage takes the reigns. Don’t count on it though.

    • It’s beginning to sound like Wayne is perfectly willing to take NRA down with him. If he named a successor and bowed out however it should make preserving what Wayne hasn’t … er appropriated for the five million members a likelihood for an unbiased Judge. I guess my question is how likely is this Judge to say NRA can move, but Wayne must go.

    • “…the organization and the principals for which it fights…”

      Seems to me that fighting for its principals is mostly what got the NRA into this mess. It should have abandoned its principals, not its principles.

    • Yes WP is the main reason I do not join the NRA. Trouble is if he is doing this sht how many others are too.
      What’d you guess maybe 13% of the funds go to actually gunm related stuff?

      • Not many others. There’s that old joke, “Don’t steal, government doesn’t like the competition.” Ole Wayne would likely fire someone for misappropriating a stupid $2.00 pen, while he stole by the millions.

    • The problem with a con is the moment youbleave the evidence gets discovered. He can’t leave without a lot of trouble maybe jail time.

  3. Seems to me that the NY AG’s litigation against the NRA was an “unforced error”.

    Imagine that she had NOT done so. Wayne LaP would have continued to milk the cow and angered gun-rights advocates. That would have kept the NRA a target for criticism which would have been decreasingly valid. NRA would have continued to be a shadow of its former self.

    NY AG’s litigation forces some resolution to the internal politics of the NRA. It might drive a stake through the heart of the organization; whereupon, the gun-controllers wouldn’t have the NRA to kick around anymore. Alternatively, it may force a federal judge to approve a reorganization plan including reform of internal NRA politics (by other means?) New Executive; new formulation of the Board of Directors. A new and revitalized NRA which will attract new members and ongoing contributions of current members.

    If NRA were dissolved, then its loyal members would undoubtedly look for a new beneficiary of their support. Really hard to imagine that this support would simply evaporate.

    If NRA were reorganized, it’s hard to imagine that it would be with Wayne LaP at the helm. A revitalized organization.

    Is it possible that we should be making a (modest) contribution to the NY AG’s re-election campaign?

    • I was with you up to the point of donating to James re-election. I am continuously amused by human actions and their unintended consequences. If James accidentally revives NRA while trying to destroy it, just follow my lead and laugh and move on. She really isn’t very good and New York would be better off without her!

      If you are joking, thanks for giving me an opening to showcase James’ incompetence.

      • he attacked James and New York’s financial regulator as “corrupt”

        LaPierre got at least one thing absolutely right, then.

      • I’ll second your opinion, Scott. You don’t fix what’s wrong on our side, by contributing to the enemy. We didn’t get rid of incompetent generals during WWII by donating munitions to the Nazis.

        • I mean, we did stop trying to assassinate Hitler. If your opponent is making errors don’t stop them.

  4. Well Damn it!

    We simply do not need these distractions right now. You have this lunatic of a president ready to chomp on all things second amendment.

    And meanwhile, our fearless leader of the national rifle association is stumbling around like an idiot on the stand.

    I’m perfectly aware of the fact that the left wing is feeding this fire. No doubt about it. But you know what, ‘ol Wayne has put a lot of fuel on it for them to torch.

    And we the citizens are going to pay the price for it.

    • Many already are, to an extent. NRA members pay taxes, some of which are dollars being spent on a lawsuit against the organization that these members also support with donations. They are paying for the lawyers on both sides, plus subsidizing the fat cat in the middle.

  5. In 2021 anyone leading a major organization who says they don’t use email is either lying and should be removed or inept and should be removed.

    • In the swamp of Washington politics I could imagine that it is quite possible that nobody (neither lobbyist or congress-critter) wants an email paper trail to exist of the deals that are made.

      • Not just Washington. I worked for a Telecom company about 5 years ago and their policy was that emails be kept brief (5 sentences or less) and be used sparingly. Anything important was to be a phone call or brief meeting. They didn’t want any paper trail they could help.

        • In todays highly politicalized and super litagatious world the less said on paper the better. You can bet every email or blog post you ever made will be used aganst you should you be the target of investigation.

          LaPierre was smart in not using ecomms. It may save his sorry ass. But he has rightfully lost the trust of the membership, me included.

          Ones electronic records are already hurting folks seeking jobs in government and industry. Thankfully its also helpful to expose the government for its endless crimes and exposing candidates for office.

          Every pro gun and anti government post and email you ever made is already vacuumed up by the KGB and used against our 2nd Amendment rights. If the Communists retain power you can bet they will get China to help create a US Social Credit scoring system. Its already being built according to some sources.

  6. I’m not seeing anything here that helps the 2A cause. If anyone here can point out something that helps us or hurts them then please tell me?

    • He needs to go. That’s a start. I’m furious I give my money over to him to waist like a rotten televangelist. My gun club requires I’m a member of the NRA. Infuriating.

    • At least the AP played this one straight down the middle and stuck to the facts. Doesn’t excuse the rest of those lazy posts, though…and if there’s ONE THING this site should be spending extra effort on, you’d think it would be the NRA news.

  7. Wayne needs to slither back into the swamp from which he came. Certainly he has to see he is a detriment to the organization. Is his ego really that big that he cannot step down for the good of the organization? If so then he should be dragged out on his ass.

    Hugs and Kisses Wayne

  8. Who would have thought I’d ever be cheering on Letitia James. I need to go take a shower now, I feel so dirty.

  9. For awhile now it has been the consensus among voting members that Wayne needs to go and The NRA stays. Being polite is wearing thin.

    On the other hand…Where’s the outrage over election fraud joe and the ny gov? Oh I forgot…they are democRats.

      • “We cant change the election fraud.”

        Uh, I think we’d damn well better try to eliminate election fraud, and fast, otherwise you’re going to have to find a real tall tree out in the middle of nowhere to go climb and hide…

        People who want to just throw up their arms, admit defeat and allow some other idiots to control the rest of their lives should just slink off. Rather, they now seem to be trying to exert the most influence on Americans concerning how they best live their own lives.

        Give up without a continued fight? Maybe you need to add Boehner’s new book to your library…

        • I was talking this election.
          Impeachment would be the only thing at this point. And as Geoff pr or Former Water Walker pointed out, who wants Kamala Harris at the helm.
          ” Give up without a continued fight” , I’ve only tapped out once, the rest of the times I just got the sht kicked out of me.

  10. “To be sure, it’s not unusual for chief executives of organizations the size of the NRA to travel by private plane or live lifestyles beyond the means of most people.”

    Actually, it is unusual, especially for a non-profit. $400M of revenue a year is nothing in business. The Red Cross has $2.5B revenue, and their CEO only makes $650k. The lowest Fortune 1000 company has 4x the revenue, and most of the CEOs of these companies don’t live high on the hog at shareholders expense. My company is Fortune 350 with $21B revenue, and the CEO makes less than $4M and flies commercial. Wayne’s ego and self importance makes him think he deserves these things, and we should pay for them.

    He should have been gone years ago. I hope the move to Texas is successful. Wayne deserves to be punished for his misdeeds, and bankruptcy doesn’t absolve criminal acts. However, the organization doesn’t deserve to be broken up. The breakup would be a farce with James awarding assets to Moms, Brady, Gifford, and other antigun organizations that would “continue” the NRA’s mission of gun safety and education.

  11. Did he testify regretfully or regrettably?
    How is that a man who lives in Nebraska for an organization whose headquarters is in Virginia NOT communicate with texts and e-mails?
    Does the organization pay for his house in Virginia? If so, why didn’t it simply insist that he move there. Spending millions of dollars over the course of his career for him to commute half way across the country is outrageous, especially for a nonprofit.

  12. No surprise here. Another elitist taking advantage of the little man and 2nd amendment. I’ll be joining gun owners of america tho I don’t know why…😏

  13. I placed a call to N.R.A headquarters the other day to voice my displeasure with the leadership of Wayne LaPiere and his executive staff and said I no longer wanted any mail or subscriptions or requests for any more donations until he and his staff are replaced with honorable people we can trust with our donations.The N.R.A let the McCluskey’s out in Missouri stand trial for defending their right of self defense to protect themselves and their property.The organization did not lift a finger to help them.I am a life member and have been disgusted with how the leader of the organization lives the lifestyle of the rich and famous.I now support other gun rights organizations that do their job to defend our second amendment.No more money to the N.R.A until changes are made.

  14. Gods above and below, he really is a piece of shit.

    I bet he stays in his position because….NRA and fudds.

  15. “I haven’t sent any emails or texts.” No, he has his own version of Smithers to do it for him. They all start with “His Lordship commands…”

    Seriously, I got another NRA beg-a-thon letter in the mail today. I took the response section and wrote across it “NOT ONE PENNY UNTIL LaPIERRE IS GONE!”, and sent it back to them. In their own postage paid envelope, of course.

  16. If the old shitass had admitted his mistakes from the start and stepped down instead of continuing to milk his personal cash cow the NRA would be much better off, with much better leadership, but as many of you said he is dragging the NRA down the tube with him! Most corporations would have fired him long ago. Sad, really sad. He should be replaced immediately. And if he had stepped down the case would be about him, not so much wrecking the NRA.

  17. Kind of reminds me of the United Way. Millions for the folks at the top and they give a portion of what they take in to large sweeping projects- feel good stuff- but let some guy who had given at work all his life ask for a hospital bed for a kid, no, they cannot do it. Just the same kind of thing. The Second Amendment Foundation is a much better group- smarter and much faster moving.

  18. LaPierre should just quietly step down and somebody like say Dana Loesch should be in charge.
    I realized this years ago when a 12 year old girl made LaPierre look like a fool on some Sunday morning news show. The same kid tried the same crap with Loesch and she put the kid in her place.
    She also did without coming across as bullying or belittling the kid.
    The NRA will survive without LaPierre, he has dumped some good people to serve his personal needs.
    Christopher W. Cox, Oliver North, Dana Loesch and others.
    Wayne, we need the NRA so please just step down.

    • I don’t completely disagree with that comment but the NRA strikes fear in the minds of the Lefties.
      They completely disappointed me when they completely ran away from a 2A fight in my old state.
      I always thought LaPierre was a horrible leader BUT :
      The NRA does strike fear in politicians.
      There is strength in numbers.

  19. There could be twice as many NRA members fast if he went away and they installed new leadership. He has to go. He is the swamp.

  20. Rest easy, the NRA has already come up with a new fundraising campaign in response to Bidens gun grab.

    Once enough money comes in, they will issue a stern statement to the press that banning guns is bad. Oh, and Wayne needs more gold toilets in his mansion.

    Keep funding the National Ripoff Association, they really care.

  21. The NRA has always been a compromising organization and look what they did with the donations you thought were helping defend the Second Amendment. LaPierre and the whole Board of Directors should be in jail for 10 years, at least. I left the NRA years ago, fortunately.

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