UPDATED: The District of Columbia’s attorney general on Friday issued subpoenas to the National Rifle Association and the NRA Foundation in what Newsweek called “a series of ongoing probes into the gun-rights group and its finances.”
According to the Washington Post, “The office of Attorney General Karl Racine is seeking financial documents from the NRA and its foundation.”
In a statement, Racine explained the subpoenas were issued “as part of an investigation into whether these entities violated the District’s Nonprofit Act,” according to published reports.
NRA provided Liberty Park Press with a statement from its attorney, William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel for the NRA.
“The NRA will cooperate with any appropriate inquiry into its finances,” Brewer said. “The NRA has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance.”
According to Brewer, “The Association’s financials are audited and its tax filings are verified by one of the most reputable firms in the world. Internally, the Association has an appropriate conflict of interest policy, which provides that all potential conflicts are reviewed and scrutinized by the Audit Committee. The NRA is committed to utilizing best practices in the areas of accounting and governance.”
The five-million-member organization has been in the spotlight for several weeks, since just before its annual members meeting in April at Indianapolis. It was during that meeting that several members demanded answers about finances and reports of lavish spending. On the evening before the annual members meeting, then-NRA President Oliver North stepped down in the midst of a flap that has since been described as a “coup attempt” to unseat longtime Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. About three weeks ago, NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, was suspended over allegations that he was somehow involved in that attempt and he subsequently resigned. Cox vigorously denied the assertion.
LaPierre retained his post following an election by the NRA Board during a lengthy meeting on the day after the convention ended.
In the meantime, LaPierre had sued Ackerman McQueen, which had long served as NRA’s public relations firm and had created NRA-TV, and that was followed by a counter-suit by Ack-Mac. The firm no longer works for NFRA, and NRA-TV has been shut down.
On Thursday, CNN reported that North has denied there was a coup attempt. In a Thursday court filing quoted by CNN, North’s attorneys stated, “At no time did North seek the removal of (Wayne) LaPierre as (executive vice president)/CEO of the NRA…Nonetheless, LaPierre attacked North publicly in an attempt to undermine North and his efforts to address allegations of financial misconduct at the NRA.”
Created in 1990 and incorporated in the District of Columbia—unlike the NRA, which was incorporated in New York State more than 140 years ago—the NRA Foundation is a charity arm of the association. Donations are tax deductible, and those contributions go to support education, training and research activities.
According to the Huffington Post, NRA attorney William Brewer III said the organization will “cooperate with any appropriate inquiry into its finances.”
At least one NRA Director, retired Lt. Col. Allen B. West, a former member of Congress, called on LaPierre to resign back in May, as reported at the time by Fox News. At the time, West asserted in his blog, “There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors. It must cease, and I do not care if I draw their angst. It sickens me to publicly make this statement, but I will not allow anyone to damage my honor, integrity, character, and reputation. Needless to say, there are those who have willingly done so to their own.”
The NRA debate has become incendiary on social media. Gun rights activists are divided, with many arguing that LaPierre should step down while the longtime NRA leader is getting plenty of support. Gun owners keep reminding one another about the NRA’s important influence on Capitol Hill and in national elections. That is not lost on gun owners looking ahead to 2020 when President Donald Trump will ultimately face a challenge from a Democrat promoting a gun control agenda.
Second Amendment activists appear to understand what is at stake. If Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, they worry about a full legislative assault on Second Amendment rights, and problems in the federal courts.