National Rifle Association members and directors will have another opportunity to provide input on the group’s direction in just over a week.
The gun-rights group will hold its members’ meeting and a meeting of the Board of Directors on October 2nd in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will hold both at the Sheraton & Le Meridien Charlotte Hotel Complex, according to the NRA’s website.
“Join NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet and the other NRA officers for the Annual Members Meeting as they share the vision for NRA going forward,” a message on the site said.
The meetings come just a month after the NRA canceled its full annual meeting in Texas where they were initially scheduled to be held. The rescheduled meetings will allow NRA members and directors to provide feedback on the direction of the organization. It also presents the first opportunity for them to discuss new allegations levied against it just a few weeks ago by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.). If the group cannot convince a New York court either the allegations are false, or it has made sufficient reforms to combat internal corruption, it faces the real possibility it will be shut down.
The accusations against NRA executives led the members’ meeting at the group’s last full-scale Annual Meeting to erupt into a shouting match between reformist members and members of the Board who stand by LaPierre. A resolution calling for LaPierre and leading members of the Board to step down from that 2019 meeting was referred to the Board after leadership managed to outvote the reformers. The Board did not adopt the resolution.
The short notice combined with a lack of exhibits, speeches, and concerts that serve as major draws at the group’s conference means the turnout at the members’ meeting may be lower than in previous years. Board meetings, on the other hand, have traditionally been lightly attended by rank-and-file members and often struggle to bring in a majority of actual board members.
The AG’s new 187-page amended complaint adds a slew of new accusations to her dissolution case against the gun group. They are based partly on testimony in the group’s failed attempt to file bankruptcy in federal court as a legal strategy designed to counter the New York case. The filing adds more allegations of corruption and mismanagement against current and former NRA executives, including LaPierre, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
“For nearly three decades, Wayne LaPierre has served as the chief executive officer of the NRA and has exploited the organization for his financial benefit, and the benefit of a close circle of NRA staff, board members, and vendors,” the AG said in the brief. “LaPierre has undertaken a series of actions to consolidate his position; to exploit that position for his personal benefit and that of his family; to continue, by use of a secret ‘poison pill contract,’ his employment even after removal and ensuring NRA income for life; and to intimidate, punish, and expel anyone at a senior level who raised concerns about his conduct. The effect has been to divert millions of dollars away from the NRA’s charitable mission, imposing substantial reductions in its expenditures for core program services, including gun safety, education, training, member services and public affairs.”
The AG further accused senior leadership on the NRA Board of failing to “exercise independent oversight and instead facilitated and endorsed LaPierre’s improper actions that were not in the best interest of the NRA.” James accused LaPierre and other members of leadership of approving lavish spending on luxurious personal items, including private flights that could reach upwards of $107,000 for a single trip. She further accuses executives of entering into millions of dollars worth of questionable contracts without seeking the Board’s approval.
The updated filing includes dozens of specific allegations of corruption and mismanagement. The AG claims corruption within the NRA is so thorough that the organization can not be reformed.
“The Board of Directors, including allegedly “independent directors” and the relevant committees of the Board, passively rubberstamped the decisions of the officer-defendants, to the detriment of the NRA,” the AG said in the filing.
James is seeking a slew of remedies from the court. She wants LaPierre and the other executives named in the suit to be forced to repay the NRA for the millions in personal expenses it inappropriately charged the group. James also wants them, along with board members responsible for overseeing their spending, stripped of their positions and barred from serving on any non-profits in New York. She argues the group’s operations should be transferred from its leadership to the control of a court-appointed receiver and, ultimately, shut down before its resources are distributed to other groups.
The NRA filed an answer on Friday requesting the judge in the case immediately dismiss six of the 18 charges. The NRA alleges the AG is attempting to “silence the constitutionally guaranteed political speech of its 5 million members” and is motivated by political interests. The filing also borrowed heavily from the judge’s ruling in the gun-rights group’s failed bankruptcy attempt.
“Despite the benefit of a full investigation, multiple amendments, sweeping discovery in the NRA’s federal bankruptcy case, and a twelve-day trial in the federal bankruptcy court featuring twenty-three witnesses, the NYAG fails to allege any wrongdoing perpetrated or approved by the NRA’s Board sufficient to meet its burden to plead specific, non-conclusory allegations implicating a majority of the Board, or any decisions of the Board that are not subject to business judgment protection,” the group said in the filing. “The NYAG’s allegations are nothing but speculative, conclusory allegations about supposed misconduct by individual executives with no allegations against the majority of the NRA’s Board.”
It noted that while it does not agree with the charges levied against LaPierre and other members of leadership, even if they were proven, they wouldn’t implicate the organization itself.
“Nowhere does the Amended Complaint allege that the purported looting and self-dealing allegedly engaged in by the individual defendants furthered the NRA’s business,” the group’s filing said. Nowhere does the NYAG explain how the alleged false financial filings, which were not alleged to have been reviewed or approved by the Board, advanced the NRA’s business by omitting portions of director income.”
The NRA said even if the judge is convinced of the allegations against LaPierre, it should not hold the entire 5-million member organization to account for them.
“The misconduct of one defendant cannot be imputed to another defendant merely because of an existing business relationship,” it said in the filing. “Nor are allegations of misconduct against a member of an entity sufficient to state a claim against that entity. Nor can the NYAG get around this hurdle with vague, unsubstantiated allegations of “control” of the Board by defendant LaPierre. Indeed, these allegations are contradicted by repeated statements in the Amended Complaint that the individual defendants took steps to conceal their misconduct from the Board and Audit Committee;114 testimony from Audit Committee officials that clearly underscores the repeated actions taken to remedy Phillips’ time as treasurer.”