Under questioning on the third day of the federal bankruptcy hearing, LaPierre defended the gun rights group’s leadership and the benefits he and his family received from the NRA contractor.
But his testimony ruled out arguments by an NRA attorney this week that LaPierre has been able to effectively resolve ethical and regulatory issues since 2018, when the organization received the first notice from New York state officials about Mistaken financial management
Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued the NRA, arguing that LaPierre and three other high-ranking officials used the group’s resources for their own personal gain. She tried to disband the organization.
In a statement on Wednesday, LaPierre admitted – as previously seen by other NRA officials, that the full board and the general counsel were not notified in advance of the bankruptcy plan.
And he lamented not disclosing the free internal travel he accepted aboard California film producer David McKenzie, linked to companies that the attorney general’s office accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars in contracts. Over the years the club.
“I believe it was one mistake that I didn’t do,” said LaPierre in the NRA Conflicts of Interest Disclosure.
He said yachting travel was imperative for business reasons and because they provided a safe escape from the physical threats he faced after the mass shootings.
LaPierre admitted under question that he had not filled out the NRA’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form for many years. He did finally do so this week, according to documents submitted as part of the hearing.
Even before the 71-year-old NRA chief appears on stage, his actions have been centered since the opening of the hearing, which will decide whether gun rights groups are allowed to seek bankruptcy protection.
The New York attorney general’s office has argued LaPierre improperly led the organization into bankruptcy to avoid extensive lawsuits filed last year.
The suit urged the NRA to announce plans to move from New York, which has been chartered since 2009. 1871 to Texas, the organization also moved to seek bankruptcy protection, saying the company’s finances were good, but that action was necessary to protect itself from what officials identified as a politically motivated investigation.
“We filed for bankruptcy this time to look for a fair and legal playing field where the NRA can grow and prosper .. compared to what we believe has become a politically and armed government in New York State.” LaPierre said in response to questions from James G. Shehan, head of charity in the New York Attorney General’s Office.
LaPierre, speaking over WebEx video conferencing, wearing a dark suit and blue tie and sitting in front of a bookshelf, insisted he used the phrase “dump New York” in a press release describing the drive for bankruptcy filing.
James’ attorneys argued that the actions of NRA officers were detrimental to the organization.
“If the NRA faces a crisis brought on by bankruptcy, it is a crisis brought by LaPierre and the authorities and by their choice,” said Monica Connell, New York Assistant Attorney General, claiming LaPierre concealed the bankruptcy plans from the NRA. The board and other high-ranking officials until the bankruptcy filing was filed in January.
The New York investigation began in 2019 due to internal conflicts over NRA spending in the public view, so the group’s chairman, Oliver North, was pushed out after he said he tried to raise the alarm about spending. Of the organization His exit was followed by NRA senior lobbyist Christopher W. Cox, among other officials.
In the midst of the turmoil, numerous allegations about the lavish spending by officers within the powerhouse gun lobby were reported by The Washington Post and other news organizations, including the suits LaPierre bought at the Beverly Hills clothing boutique and private travel. That was extensive and tens of millions of dollars. Submitted to an outside attorney of the NRA.
During a hearing on Wednesday, LaPierre said the suit was bought on the advice of Ackerman McQueen, a longtime NRA advertising firm that is battling bankruptcy, asking if the suit Ackerman bought as a gift. LaPierre replied on Wednesday: “No, they are wardrobe work.”
The NRA admitted in a tax filing last year that current and former executives, including LaPierre, used the nonprofit group’s resources for personal gain.LaPierre “rectified” the financial failure by refunding the NRA, the filing as follows. say
In addition to LaPierre, New York’s Attorney General is named Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former NRA Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Joshua Powell, former chief of staff and executive director of general operations, and John Frazer, corporate secretary and chief financial officer. The general counsel, who spent several hours standing on Tuesday and Wednesday before LaPierre testified.
James said the actions of those top executives had cost more than $ 64 million over the past three years as they fortified themselves and “denigrate and circumvent internal controls … regardless of the outcome.” The greatest benefit of the NRA ”as appropriate.
LaPierre and other officials denied James’ claims.
New York Attorney General and Ackerman McQueen asked the judge to reject the corporate bankruptcy claim, saying the suit was filed to avoid liability in court.
“LaPierre’s only goal is to hold on to power,” Connell told the judge on Monday. She said LaPierre’s personal travel adviser would testify in the coming days, showing that she had been ordered to cover the invoice showing LaPierre’s flight to the Bahamas, which he was touring with. Family annually
While in the Bahamas, club bosses remain aboard McKenzie’s yacht, Illusions, LaPierre acknowledged Wednesday. He is also a guest of McKenzie at a resort in the Bahamas, where he says he is doing business with famous donors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, McKenzie is linked to Membership Marketing Partners, a large NRA operator.The company received $ 11.5 million for its fundraising service in 2019, according to the NRA tax filing.
McKenzie has been linked with other NRA vendors, including Associated Television International Inc., which produces a program entitled “Crime Strike” for the NRA. McKenzie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the judge allows the NRA to seek bankruptcy, James and Ackerman McQueen’s office has asked the court to appoint a trustee to manage the organization, replacing LaPierre and his team.
During the opening arguments at the trial, NRA attorney Greg Garman called LaPierre a “irreplaceable asset”, citing his ability to fund and protect his management.
“The trustee is the death penalty,” said Garman, in response to the request, as LaPierre raised $ 100 million a year for the 150-year-old organization.
Broadly, he argued, LaPierre had established more stringent fiscal and regulatory policies.
LaPierre is the group’s most prominent figure, leading the NRA’s proactive response to efforts to seek gun control after mass shootings.
After the 2012 Newtown elementary school shooting in Conn. LaPierre rejected the call for regulation, saying “The only thing stopping bad guys with guns is good people with guns.”
His response has been criticized by the Newtown family and Democrats. But revenue and new membership to the NRA organization were also seen as blocking the proposed gun enforcement regulations at the time.