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Deposition of Charles Cotton

Here’s his deposition, in the Ackerman McQueen lawsuit that settled, taken in February, 2020. Major points:

P. 27 on: Oliver North contract. 57-58, tries to argue North wouldn’t have had a conflict of interest if he’d worked for Ackerman as a contractor, but did if he was employee. ??? It’s hard to see the point, other than as an explanation of why Audit Committee said the arrangement with North was OK, and then after North called for investigations, said he had a conflict of interest and must resign.

P. 115: Whistleblowers could come to Audit Committee, but it would refer the matter to their boss (!!!) or maybe to General Counsel. I’m sure that’s a great comfort to potential whistleblowers. Complain about corruption and we’ll tell your boss.

P. 116: All he (chairman of Audit Committee) knows about Millie Hallow he got from attorney Bill Brewer. Audit Committee must not be very interested in her conduct.

P. 125: Audit Committee ratified, after the fact, paying $1.8 million to rent a house as a set for the movie producer (David Stanton, of Associated TV, who was paid bundles to produce “Crime Strike,” starring Wayne Lapierre, which no one has ever seen). It must have been a nice house, to rent for $1.8 million for some filming. But Audit Committee approved.

P. 131-132: LaPierre’s $300,000 for suits and business clothing: that’s being investigated by Bill Brewer. (So Brewer’s investigated the man who signs his paychecks?)

P. 134: Board attorney Steve Hart informed some board members of the clothing bills (and promptly got terminated/suspended by LaPierre, without the board daring to object).

P. 149: Brewer told Cotton that he suspected “leaks” were coming out of Treasurer’s Office.

P. 158: Did Audit Committee ever look into whether Brewer’s bills were excessive? A big group of redactions here.

P. 164: He denies reports NRA was in imminent danger of being unable to meet its payroll.

P. 176-177: Discussed how Ackerman set LaPierre up to buy the suits at Zegna’s (in Beverly Hills, where you can get a vest for under $4,000).

P. 180: Ackerman then billed the suits and clothing to NRA.

P. 189: Gayle Stanford, the (unlicensed) travel agent who arranged for LaPierre’s leased executive jets, was being paid $318,000 a year. P. 190, Ackerman paid her $4,000 a month on top of this. (Since you can book executive jet flights online, $360K a year is incredible pay for perhaps an hour a week of work, from your house).

P. 192: The leased jets were “general knowledge” among the board. Really?

P. 193: $121,300 billed in airfare for one multi-stop trip. It included a stop in North Platt, Neb., home of the LaPierre’s niece. It was on a Hawker 850XP, not a small jet, something to ferry a small group around, not just a partying CEO and wife.

P. 194: Who monitored LaPierre travel to make sure it was all for business? LaPierre himself.

P. 208: The $6 million mansion for the LaPierres. Cotton’s version is that Ackerman set it all up, LaPierre just said “great!” thinking Ackerman would pay. (NRA’s biggest vendor gives its CEO a $6 million present–great? And this is the charitable version).

P. 209: Then treasurer Woody Phillips cut a $77,000 NRA check for the earnest money on the deal, LaPierre realized NRA would be paying, and backed out. (This is hard to believe. He and his wife had toured the place, suggested improvements, and he asked about membership in the country club. But if it were true, it’d tell how things were run. Secret deals, $6 million transactions and $77,000 checks without the CEO or board knowing).

P. 216-17: Josh Powell, chief of staff, was terminated on the advice of Bill Brewer. (Tells us how much control Brewer has. If he wants the CEO’s chief of staff to be terminated, he just tells LaPierre and the deed is done. Will any ordinary staffer dare speak out?).

6 thoughts on “Deposition of Charles Cotton

  1. It sounds like we NRA members need to replace not only Wayne LaPierre but most of the Board as well. It sounds like the Audit Committee is a rubber stamp joke for La Pierre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ones declaring righteously “nothing to see here!” are often the ones complicit. Obviously the head of the “non-Auditing” committee is one of those in on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that the position of Executive Vice President should be an elective position by the NRA membership, the same as the board member positions with maybe a four year term of office. I think that this would reduce the chances of abuse of power that we are currently seeing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing that strikes me reading all these depositions…seems like an awful lot of things go on within the organization that none of the leadership nor board members have any knowledge or recollection about or consider to be part of their responsibilities to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This kind of corruption makes me wonder about other high-level execs at places like GOA, SAF, FPC, NAGR, the bigger state-level gun rights orgs. I don’t know if they have a BoD to keep tabs on activities and bookkeeping, but I don’t believe they have members-meetings and voting like the venerable NRA.

    Even as a tadpole among donors though, I’d still want my pennies to count for 2A advocacy as much as possible, and this kind of NRA s**t since 2019 isn’t found on the IRS 990s (I’m a ‘2020 Sumer Of Love’ newbie, not even paying attention to y’all’s 2019 Meeting Blow-up back in that day)
    Anyway, thank you again for this stream of information.


    1. The one thing that you can look at and judge about the level of corruption at the other pro 2nd amendment groups is, how much positive action are they able to take? Because given the level of spending that the NRA is doing for legal fees to protect the leadership, meaning people like Wayne and friends, there is little left to spend on outreach and political campaigns.
      I live in Michigan, where we had in the recent midterms a governor who was one of the worst that we have had in a very long time. A Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer handled the Covid crisis in one of the most egregious ways, putting sick people into nursing homes with the populations that had comorbidities in addition to simply being aged. The economy was of course horrid, as was her actions to shut down businesses that she deemed non essential.
      And of course, the same old, rules for thee but not for me was a big deal as well. But since the NRA could not be bothered, or should I say, that they didn’t have enough money to go around, they didn’t spend hardly any money, if any at all, here in Michigan, and so we went from a Democrat Governor and Sec. of State and AG, but a Republican legislature, to completely Democrat across the board. So now they have threatened to pass the worst anti gun bills in the states history, take a budget surplus of billions of dollars that trigger a lowering of the income tax rate and spend it down in order to avoid that tax decrease, and several other things, like giving their union friends and teachers unions what amounts to kickbacks, from the budget surplus, as part of their spend down.
      Oh, yes, that “Fix the damn roads” that she ran on the first time. Yeah, that went out the window, when she got elected the first time, and tried to increase the gas tax by .50 cents, when she promised that she would do it without raising the gas tax.
      All of this could possibly have been stopped had the NRA spent some of the millions of dollars here to try and keep her from reelection. It could have been a win for Tudor Dixon, not the greatest candidate, but one who had a real chance, and only needed more money to run a better campaign. Not all the NRA’s fault, of course, but where were they? Fighting legal battles caused by their own corruption at the top. And the biggest problem is, they continue to make huge mistakes, even going so far as to ask for a jury trial in Manhattan, of all places. Even a hick, foundry worker like myself knows better than that. I am sure that Sun Tsu said that you never fight in the opponents backyard. If not, he should have.


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