NRA has filed its answer to the New York complaint seeking its dissolution, and we had a couple of gun-owning attorneys look it over. Here are their thoughts:
P. 167, “The NRA hereby demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable.” Really? The lawsuit is in New York County, a tiny jurisdiction that amounts to Manhattan. You want to submit the NRA’s fate to a jury chosen from one of the most antigun populations to be found in the United States? You’ve probably lost before the trial begins. At least a judge has to explain their reasons, a jury does not.
Every time the complaint quotes LaPierre’s own testimony, the answer recites the same thing: “With respect to testimony allegedly elicited from Mr. LaPierre by the NYAG during the course of its investigation, the NRA states that such testimony was elicited subject to substantial COVID-19 precautions which could reasonably be expected to impede accurate transcription, including masking and socially-distant seating arrangements. The NRA further states that it repeatedly requested, and was repeatedly denied, the opportunity to identify and rectify errata in the NYAG’s transcripts. Accordingly, the NRA lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the accuracy of allegations in Paragraph 141 of the Complaint purporting to characterize Mr. LaPierre’s testimony, and on that basis denies such allegations.” That’s BS. They have him on video, his attorneys were there making notes, he either said it or he didn’t. The statement amounts to, “yes, he said it, but we don’t want to admit it.” Doesn’t work against a videotape.
Para 180. II&IS are the companies that were hired to book LaPierre’s leased corporate jet flights. Booking leased jets at $7,000 per flight hour plus costs is something for celebrities and such, but can be done online. A secretary in the NRA could easily do it. “The NRA admits that it paid monthly fees to II&IS for travel services during the periods indicated, and further admits that such monthly fees totaled $15,000 and $19,000 at certain relevant times.” Unbelievable.
Para 205, “The NRA admits that the EVP Consulting Budget has, from time to time, included consulting arrangements with former NRA presidents and/or board members.” Board members were being paid off. The bylaws forbid this.
Para 207, “The NRA admits that an armored vehicle was procured for Mr. LaPierre.” NRA justifiable ridicules anti-gun public figures that travel with armed guards. Isn’t hiring an armored vehicle a bit much?
Para 209, the $6 million Texas mansion that was going to be secretly purchased for LaPierre, “The NRA admits that in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, following advice that Mr. LaPierre establish a “safe house,” Mr. LaPierre and his wife reviewed several properties at the recommendation of Ackerman McQueen, including a home in Westlake, Texas.”
Para 212, the mansion’s down payment, “The NRA admits that it received an invoice from WBB Investments LLC in the amount of $70,000 bearing the referenced annotation.” Yes, and it paid it, too. Para. 215. WBB Investments was the shell company created so the transaction could be hidden from the board of directors and others.
Para 217, “The NRA admits that beginning in 2018, after Phillips’ departure, Phillips’ successor revised certain financial processes, including processes relating to credit card reimbursements and expense approvals.” Yes, the new treasurer tried to clean things up. And LaPierre fired him.
Para 222, the complaint claims that NRA’s former treasurer, Phillips, made a $1.4 million deal with some place called “HomeTelos LP,” with whose CEO he had a “personal relationship. NRA answers, “The NRA admits that on or about September 2, 2014, Mr. Phillips executed a contract with HomeTelos LP on behalf of the NRA. The NRA states that neither Mr. LaPierre nor any other NRA officer signed the contract or participated in its negotiation.” So its treasurer could hand out a million of members’ money to someone with whom he had a “relationship” and the neither the EVP or “any other NRA officer” would notice?
Para 288, the complaint claims that an NRA “senior staff member,” LaPierre right hand woman Millie Hallow, billed $18,000 of her son’s wedding expenses to NRA, and NRA paid them. “The NRA admits that in 2012, roughly $18,000 in expenses were incurred at the direction of a senior staff member, and states that such expenses were subsequently reimbursed to the NRA with interest.” Sure, after NY sued, years after the event. Wasn’t anyone watching where members’ money was going? I’d bet she still has her job. What other nonprofit would tell an executive caught stealing corporate money, “just pay it back.”
Para 340, the complaint claims that after the Executive Director of General Operations was fired, he was given a $1.8 million “consulting contract” with no definition of what he would consult about, in violation of several NRA contracting policies. “To the extent Paragraph 340 of the Complaint purports to summarize or describe the contents of the Agreement regarding the Termination of Employment, Release, Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement signed by Kyle Weaver, Lisa Supernaugh, and Wilson Philips on November 5, 2016, the NRA states that the Agreement speaks for itself, and respectfully refers the Court to such document for its complete and accurate contents.” In other words, yes, we did. And the contract is for “confidentiality and non-disparagement,” meaning “here’s $1.8 million to keep your mouth shut.”
Para 382, “The NRA admits that, at certain relevant times, one of its board members received $4,000 per month for public speaking and consulting services.”
Para 393, the complaint talks about Board Member #5, Marion Hammer. “The NRA denies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations set forth in Paragraph 393 of the Complaint, except admits, upon information and belief, that Board Member No. 5 is a past NRA President, has been paid at various times for consulting services, and executed a 10-year contract for $220,000 annually.” The bylaws say board members aren’t supposed to be paid or receive personal benefits beyond expense reimbursements.
Para 394, “The NRA admits that in 2018, the Audit Committee reviewed and ratified, following its execution, a contract with Board Member No. 5. The NRA further admits that LaPierre was a signatory to such contract, which was also acknowledged at the time of its execution by appropriate officers of the Board of Directors. The NRA further admits that it has made grants at relevant times to the United Sportsmen of Florida, but states that Board Member No. 5 did not participate in these grantmaking decisions.” Great. Now your Audit Committee, LaPierre, and a president and Vice President are all implicated in handing out $2.2 million to a director in violation the bylaws.
NRA’s counterclaims? “Claiming selective prosecution, unfairness, bad motivation are all losers. The only good defense here is that you didn’t do it. A prosecutor is free to go after some lawbreakers and not others, to do so for personal motives, etc. The only good defense is that you didn’t break the law. ‘It’s just not FAIR’ gets nowhere. And it will really get nowhere in front of a Manhattan jury, which NRA will get because its attorney asked for one. For Pete’s sake, why ask for a jury chosen from the place that gave us the Sullivan Law, and has kept it for over a century? You might as well try your case to Charles Schumer.”
That’s just the opinion of two attorneys with eighty years of trial experience.