Wayne LaPierre won’t receive any money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) once he steps down at the end of the month, the group’s lawyers claim in a new filing.
After LaPierre announced his resignation on the eve of the group’s corruption trial, New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D.) office objected to the NRA using the unexpected move as part of its defense during the corruption trial that began on Monday. In a letter to Judge Joel M. Cohen, she demanded the NRA answer a series of questions about what relationship the group would have with its leader of more than 30 years once he officially left at the end of the month. The NRA’s outside lawyers, Brewer Attorneys and Counselors, responded by arguing LaPierre’s resignation undermined her case and insisted LaPierre would not receive compensation from the group after he leaves.
“After January 31, 2024, payments under the 2021 Employment Agreement will cease. There are no superseding employment or post-employment agreements with Mr. LaPierre,” Noah Peters wrote in a letter to Judge Cohen. “Mr. LaPierre will not undertake any other employment, independent contracting, consulting or other work for the NRA or any affiliate, vendor or contractor[.]”
The NRA’s claims come as it faces down a civil suit from James that could see LaPierre and other leaders barred from working at non-profits in the state as well as repay the group money it is accused of diverting to personal expenses. She is also seeking to have a court-appointed overseer in charge of the NRA. One of the accusations at the core of the case against the NRA is that it kept paying other executives, such as former treasurer Woody Phillips, after they left the group. But LaPierre’s alleged impropriety has been the main focus of the case. So, whether he will keep getting NRA money after he steps down could be an important consideration in the jury’s decision on if further reforms are needed.
To that end, Peters said, “Mr. LaPierre has no arrangements or agreements with the NRA or its affiliates regarding his resignation, severance, licensing, or consulting,” and he “holds no other position with the NRA, nor will he hold a position after his final day.”
James also asked about the health condition cited in 74-year-old LaPierre’s resignation announcement. In response, Peter said, “The NRA is informed that Mr. LaPierre has chronic lyme disease” and James’s suggestion health was not the reason he left “is false.”
Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) is a controversial diagnosis in the medical community. It has been associated with symptoms of “chronic pain, fatigue, neurocognitive, and behavioral symptoms,” but its existence and ties to Lyme Disease have also been disputed.
“Within the scientific community, the concept of CLD has for the most part been rejected,” Dr. Paul M. Lantos wrote in a 2016 manuscript available in the National Institute of Health’s library of medicine. “Clinical practice guidelines from numerous North American and European medical societies discourage the diagnosis of CLD and recommend against treating patients with prolonged or repeated antibiotic courses.”
However, some experts argue there can be lasting effects from Lyme Disease even if it isn’t the result of a chronic infection. Dr. Brian Fallon and Dr. Jennifer Sotsky, who study Lyme Disease, have advocated for calling it “Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” instead.
“The word’ syndrome’ means that there might be many different causes of the post-treatment symptoms; these causes might include persistent infection, persistent immune activation, damage from the prior infection, or changes in the brain chemistry that leads to abnormally activated pain or mood pathways or altered cognition,” they wrote for Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center. “The medical community acknowledges that approximately 5-20% of patients may have chronic symptoms after getting Lyme disease, often ones that are quite disabling.”
Regardless of the media dispute over LaPierre’s diagnosis, the NRA’s lawyers argued his resignation is further proof there is no need for further reform at the organization.
“As the NRA stated in its trial brief, Mr. LaPierre’s resignation undermines the NYAG’s request for forward-looking injunctive relief,” Peters wrote. “Such extraordinary relief may only be granted based on a showing of violations that are continuing or imminently likely to recur. The key allegation in support of these drastic remedies requested by the NYAG is that ‘over the course of [LaPierre’s] nearly 30-year tenure as the chief executive of the organization, and with the assistance of the other Individual Defendants and leaders on the NRA Board, [LaPierre] has consolidated his power and control over the NRA.'”
James questioned the timing of LaPierre’s resignation. Her office argued his resignation should have no impact on the broader case against the NRA.
“After standing lockstep with Mr. LaPierre for more than three years litigating this case, in its pre-trial memorandum, filed late on January 6th, the NRA suddenly purports to reverse course and assert that LaPierre’s departure from the NRA in January 2024 is an example of ‘clear corrective action’ taken by the organization for which it can avoid liability[…],” Monica Connell, assistant attorney general, wrote to Judge Cohen. “The NRA also asserts that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the misconduct of ‘rogue former officers’ – which now presumably include Mr. LaPierre – can be imputed to the NRA to show the organization improperly administered charitable assets. Whether Mr. LaPierre’s resignation has any relevance is a question, but one to be addressed at the remedial stage of this case.”
The NRA also confirmed that Andrew Arulanandam would take over LaPierre’s role once he stepped down, at least “until the NRA hires [a] permanent successor.” Arulanandam is a longtime LaPierre confidant who served for years as the NRA’s spokesperson before suddenly being tapped to replace the head of General Operations last month, a move that put him in line to succeed LaPierre. A vote to replace the interim CEO and executive vice president won’t take place until the group’s annual meeting in May–well after the New York trial ends.
It’s unclear if Arulanandam, who has no experience running operations at the gun-rights group, has enough support on the Board of Directors to secure the position in the long term. Prominent NRA supporters have already begun publicly circulating at least one alternative. Former NRA Institute of Legislative Action deputy executive director and general counsel Wade Callender, who helped coordinate with the group’s state affiliate in the successful 2022 Supreme Court Bruen case, has already received the backing of several elected officials. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R.) and State Senator Drew Springer (R.) posted a call for Callender to take over the NRA’s top perch on social media this week.
Arguments in the Attorney General’s case against the NRA have already reached their third day. As previewed in its letter, the NRA did argue LaPierre “was not always a meticulous corporate executive,” according to the Courthouse News Service, but stopped short of blaming him for the NRA’s woes and claimed many of James’s accusations against him were “complete fiction.” The trial is expected to last for about six weeks.