Despite heavy backing from the big gun manufacturers, the NRA is absolutely dependent on small-money donations from ammosexuals and musketfuckers across America, who donate to fund the political operations of the nonprofit.
But an internal struggle over the organization's leadership, between longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre and his old guard and erstwhile new leader Oliver North has kicked off rounds of audits, leaks and accusations that shed light on the way the organization (mis)spends its money.
It all seems to start with Oliver North seeking to consolidate power by accusing LaPierre of dipping his snout in the trough of NRA donors' money, with the usual oligarch roster of pocket lining ($275,000 for fancy clothes at a Beverley Hills boutique, $253,000 for luxury travel far from the USA, $13,800 for a summer intern's apartment), and also accusing him of multimillion-dollar cronyism, paying outside attorney William Brewer $24m over 13 months.
Then North was ousted for allegedly setting up a mulitmillion-dollar kickback scheme with ad agency Ackerman McQueen, whose CEO is the father-in-law of Brewer.
Now comes a blockbuster report in the Washington Post about self-dealing by NRA directors, who, as nonprofit directors, would normally be expected to be raising funds for the NRA, rather than draining them, with 18 of the 76 board members collecting massive paydays at the organization's expense (just a side-note here: 76 board members?! That is one giant fucking board for a nonprofit).
Some examples: ex-cop Lance Olson billed the organization $225k for "outreach to gun collectors and fundraising"; former NFLer Dave Butz got $400k for "public outreach and firearms training"; former board member Mercedes Schlapp (now a White House communications aide) billed $85k for "media strategy consulting"; ex-president Marion Hammer got at least $610K for lobbying and "consulting services"; writer Bart Skelton got at least $28,750 for "writing articles"; Ted Nugent got $50k for playing the NRA convention; country singer Craig Morgan got $23,500 for NRA shows; former president David Keene got $112,000 for "speaking and consulting."
Meanwhile, Pete Brownell -- ex-NRA president, current director -- billed the NRA Foundation $3.1 million for ammo through his company Crow Shooting Supply.
The group insists that all this was proper and approved by the board, but some of the board members who didn't get to cash in expressed surprise and anger when informed that their colleagues were drawing a paycheck from the nonprofit. The group says that it can't help but buy things from its board members because the gun industry is so concentrated that everything it buys has some potential conflict of interest.
Unlike other nonprofits faced with similar questions, the NRA has declined to hire an outside auditor to look into its finances. Brewer (whom North alleged got $24m in 13 months from the NRA for serving as outside counsel) says that the board's "constant review" is sufficient to safeguard the organization's financial integrity.
The NRA's most recent tax filings (from 2017) showed a $12m shortfall on $312m in revenue. It's not clear whether the group's finances have since improved. The organization sends out desperate fundraising notes to its musketfucker base, begging for cash to help it fight liberals. But LaPierre has recently made repeated statements assuring supporters that the organization's finances are sound and the 2017 crisis is behind them.
There will be more to come. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether the NRA -- which is chartered in New York State -- has violated the laws governing nonprofits and has subpoenaed many documents related to the group's governance and finances.
The NRA gave $31m to the 2016 Trump campaign, more than any other outside group.
The NRA's rivals -- groups like the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms -- are claiming significant growth from defecting NRA members.
The gun rights organization’s board includes firearms industry executives, conservative leaders, gun enthusiasts, and a handful of sports and entertainment celebrities. Among its members, whose names are not listed on the NRA website, are former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia, basketball star Karl Malone and Joe Allbaugh, who served as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the George W. Bush administration. (The three are not among the directors the NRA reported paying.)
After learning about the money his fellow board members received, Malone said he was concerned. “If these allegations are correct and 18 board members received pay, you’re damn right I am,” he said. “If it’s correct, the members who pay their dues should be damn concerned, too.”
NRA money flowed to board members amid allegedly lavish spending by top officials and vendors [Beth Reinhard/Washington Post]