News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 7, 2020: New York Attorney General Letitia James in filing a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) for use of millions of dollars from NRA reserves for personal use, and extravagant lifestyles, on Thursday revealed the luxurious travel to one Caribbean island by its CEO and executive vice president, that included private jet travel, a stay at a top resort and on board a yacht.
The lawsuit, which seeks to dissolve the NRA, details that since June 2015, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and his family took private flights to and from The Bahamas on at least eight occasions, to the tune of over half a million dollars.
LaPierre also attended “celebrity retreats” on the island annually in December and stays at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, the lawsuit said.
The suit also said LaPierre often visits The Bahamas in the summer as well and stays on a 108-foot yacht named Illusions, owned by MMP Principal, a company the NRA has paid over $60 million for fundraising, printing and mailing services since 2014.
LaPierre described Illusions as “a big, big yacht” with a crew that includes a chef, according to the filings, which also noted that the vessel has four staterooms, a 16-foot jet boat and two jet skis.
LaPierre said he viewed Illusions as “a safe place to do [business], and [I] didn’t consider it a gift.” He was again joined aboard by both his immediate and extended family.
LaPierre is quoted in the lawsuit as testifying that these trips to the Bahamas were beneficial to the NRA because they provided an opportunity for his wife and niece to discuss the Women’s Leadership Forum.
AG James, in the lawsuit, said LaPierre claimed without identifying any evidentiary support that many of the costs incurred in connection with his travel and entertainment expenses – like the trips to the Bahamas and other locations with his wife, niece and family members – were justified as an investment in donor cultivation.
“When determining LaPierre’s compensation during the period 2015 to 2018, the OCC did not consider the benefits that LaPierre received for the value of personal travel for LaPierre and his family to vacation on the yacht Illusions in the Bahamas, as described above, and other expense reimbursements to LaPierre or on LaPierre’s behalf,” the lawsuit states. “… the NRA paid these expenses without complying with the Accountable Plan requirements of documenting the business purpose of the expense, requiring LaPierre to account for the expense within a reasonable time and requiring him to return excess expense allowances within a reasonable time.”
The suit charges LaPierre as well as the organization’s former treasurer and chief financial officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips; former chief of staff and head of general operations Joshua Powell; and corporate secretary and general counsel John Frazer, with illegal conduct because of their diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” said Attorney General James. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”’
Since 1871, the NRA has operated as a New York-registered 501(c)(4) not-for-profit, charitable corporation. Under state law not-for-profit, charitable corporations are required to register and file annual financial reports with the Charities Bureau in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
The NRA last night released a statement, and filed a counter suit against the Attorney General, claiming that New York was simply targeting the organization for political reasons.