Tax filings from the National Rifle Association have revealed that current and former top executives received at least $1.4 million in improper or excessive benefits in violation of non-profit rules, according to a new report.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive, repaid the NRA $300,000 related to travel expenses deemed to be an ‘excess benefit,’ according to the 2019 tax filing reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
It is the group’s first public admission of financial lapses, and comes after New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, alleged that ‘LaPierre and his lieutenants skirted the law and pocketed millions from NRA coffers to fund lavish lifestyles that included private jets, pricey vacations, expensive meals, and no-show contracts.’
‘To the extent there were any questions about certain travel expenditures, Mr. LaPierre reimbursed the NRA,’ Arulanandam said.
‘These transactions are fully disclosed in the 2019 tax filing, in accordance with all regulations. The Association’s finances are audited, it complies with all applicable regulations, and the Board has an independent Audit Committee,’ he added.
However, in a lawsuit, James alleged a much larger misappropriation of funds than revealed in the tax filing, seeking to shut down the nation’s largest gun rights organization and oust LaPierre.
‘Mr. LaPierre’s reimbursement of just a fraction of the millions he personally profited from indicates how the NRA went unchecked under his leadership,’ James claimed this week.
LaPierre has blasted the lawsuit as unconstitutional, calling James a liberal activist who seeks to silence the gun rights group.
The NRA also said in its filing that Christopher Cox, LaPierre’s former top lieutenant who left the group last year, improperly used NRA funds to pay personal expenses charged on his personal credit card.
Cox also allegedly used NRA funds for unapproved expenses such as first-class travel, hotel costs and sporting-event tickets, according to the filing.
The NRA said it was seeking to recover more than $1 million from Cox, which Cox is disputing, the filing said.
‘As its tax filing demonstrates, the NRA is committed to strict compliance with its accounting controls and good governance practices,’ an NRA spokesman told DailyMail.com.
The NRA’s 2019 tax filing also reported a $12.2 million deficit and a 34 percent decline in member dues in 2019, as the group battled with legal probes over alleged financial abuses.
The NRA has long battled with New York state officials, including in a May 2018 lawsuit where it accused Governor Andrew Cuomo of attempted ‘blacklisting’ for pressuring banks and insurers to send business elsewhere.
Last week, the NRA agreed to a $2.5 million civil fine in New York to settle charges it offered insurance to members without a license and concealed how it routinely kept some premiums for itself.
The group is also banned for selling its so-called ‘murder insurance,’ which pays legal expenses in the event of a self-defense shooting, for five years in New York.
The settlement resolved charges over the NRA’s two-decade relationship with insurance broker Lockton Cos, including the sale of 28,015 policies to New Yorkers and the NRA’s receipt of more than $1.8 million in associated royalties and fees.
The NRA has said it did not underwrite its insurance programs, and that like ‘countless’ affinity groups it relied on industry experts to market products to members. It did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to settle.
William Brewer, a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement: ‘The DFS inquiry, which began with a roar, ends with a whimper.’ He said the settlement has no effect on other litigation pending between New York state and the NRA.