The Internal Revenue Service is said to have launched a criminal investigation into National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre for possible tax fraud related to his personal finances.
Filings show LaPierre, 70, who has been in charge of the NRA’s day-to-day operations since 1991, was paid $2.2 million by the non-profit group in 2018. He made a reported total of $11.2 million between 2014 and 2018, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In August New York state’s attorney general sued to dissolve the NRA, alleging senior leaders of the non-profit group diverted millions of dollars for personal use and to buy the silence and loyalty of former employees.
In that lawsuit it was argued that not including certain personal benefits in his W-2 annual-compensation forms ‘permitted him to file false personal tax returns with the IRS’.
The New York lawsuit made only civil claims, but James had said the investigation was ongoing and any criminal activity discovered would be referred to prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service.
NRA attorney William A. Brewer III told the Journal: ‘The NRA is not aware of any IRS inquiry but, of course, will fully cooperate with any appropriate requests for assistance.’
LaPierre has not commented on reports of this latest investigation but has previously said: ‘We’re ready for the fight. Bring it on.’
Tax attorney Mark Matthews said ‘the IRS would be looking for evidence of concealment’ in their case.
The IRS is said to have launched a criminal investigation into National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, pictured, for possible tax fraud related to his personal finances
Attorney General Letitia James has already alleged NRA leaders paid for family trips to the Bahamas, private jets and expensive meals that contributed to a $64 million reduction in the NRA’s balance sheet in three years, turning a surplus into a deficit.
‘It’s clear that the NRA has been failing to carry out its stated mission for many, many years and instead has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality,’ she said at a news conference. ‘Enough was enough. We needed to step in and dissolve this corporation.’
The NRA responded by suing James in federal court, saying she had violated the NRA’s right to free speech and seeking to block her investigation.
James said in a statement that NRA leaders ‘used millions upon millions from NRA reserves for personal use’, failing to comply with the NRA’s own internal policies in addition to state and federal law.
She told reporters the NRA ‘has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality’, adding that ‘no one is above the law’.
The lawsuit names the NRA and four leaders including LaPierre.
The NRA branded it a ‘baseless, premeditated attack’ and a ‘power grab’ tied to the campaign.
‘We not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail,’ NRA President Carolyn Meadows said in a statement.
In August New York state’s attorney general Letitia James, pictured, sued to dissolve the NRA
The NRA is subject to New York law because it is registered there as a non-profit. Its physical headquarters are in Fairfax, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
James’ suit coincided with another one filed against the NRA and its foundation by the attorney general for Washington, D.C., in the district’s Superior Court, alleging the misuse of charitable funds and wasteful spending.
LaPierre’s seven-figure salary, penchant for luxury clothing shopping sprees and reports that he sought to have the NRA buy him a $6 million mansion at an exclusive golf community have drawn considerable scrutiny amid allegations of rampant misspending.
He is accused of spending millions of dollars on private travel and personal security, accepting expensive gifts such as African safaris and use of a 107-foot yacht from vendors and setting himself up with a $17 million contract with the NRA, if he were to exit the organization, without board approval.
The New York lawsuit said LaPierre, 70, spent NRA money on travel consultants, including luxury car services, and private jet flights for himself and his family, including more than $500,000 on eight trips to the Bahamas over a three-year span.
Some of the NRA’s excess spending was kept secret, the lawsuit said, under an arrangement with the organization’s former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen.
Filings show LaPierre, 70, who has been in charge of the NRA’s day-to-day operations since 1991, was paid $2.2 million by the non-profit group in 2018. He made a reported total of $11.2 million between 2014 and 2018, The Wall Street Journal reports. He is pictured with Donald Trump in 2017
The advertising firm would pick up the tab for expenses for LaPierre and other NRA executives and then send a lump sum bill to the organization for ‘out-of-pocket expenses,’ the lawsuit said.
LaPierre has successfully navigated the Washington political landscape and helped create a culture in which Republicans don’t dare touch gun-control measures, even after massacres of children.
He’s credited with working to end the decade-long ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. More recently, the NRA spent $30 million helping to elect Trump.
The NRA’s financial troubles, AG James said, were long cloaked by loyal lieutenants but became public as deficits piled up. The organization went from a nearly $28 million surplus in 2015 to a $36 million deficit in 2018.