The NRA organization and its leader stand accused of funneling millions of dollars to fund luxuries for its own officials.
Wayne LaPierre has been the executive vice president of the NRA since 1991, and a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in 2020 aimed to end his tenure and force him and the organization to pay back unlawful profits.
The first of those goals has now been achieved before the trial even begins.
The case heads to court Monday, but LaPierre, who is 74, says that health concerns are his reason for stepping down as leader of the organization, which serves to promote the interests of gun enthusiasts and the most permissive possible interpretations of the Second Amendment.
It’s one more hurdle in a series of obstacles that the NRA has faced over recent years, including being connected to an alleged Russian spy who pled guilty on conspiracy charges.
The lawsuit accuses LaPierre of spending money donated to the nonprofit organization his own benefit. NPR reported:
“The lawsuit also claims that LaPierre received more than $1.2 million in expense reimbursements over four years, including gifts for friends, travel expenses and memberships at golf clubs and hotels. And it alleges that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private plane trips, including for extended family when he was not present; traveled to Africa with his wife on a safari gifted by an NRA vendor; and spent more than $3.6 million on luxury black car services and travel consultants in the past two years.”
Wayne LaPierre is credited with building the NRA into a powerful political tool that primarily benefited Republicans who have consistently opposed the strengthening of gun regulations, including the impositions of background checks, the passage of “red flag” laws, and the banning of popular semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15. The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Under his leadership, the NRA became a powerful lobbying group, with its endorsements sought by many elected officials, particularly in the Republican Party. A surge in gun-related advertising by the NRA in 2016 is widely credited with aiding the election of President Donald Trump that year.”
Along with Wayne LaPierre, the lawsuit also targeted Joshua Powell who was then the NRA’s chief of staff. Powell was fired later the same year, and wrote a book about the “corruption, greed, and paranoia” he witnessed in the organization, according to the New York Times.
James’ lawsuit also seeks to prevent LaPierre, Powell, and two other NRA leaders, John Frazer and Woody Phillips, from ever holding a leadership position in a charitable organization in New York again.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.