The National Rifle Association has already been sharply criticized in recent months for the lavish spending habits of its leadership ― particularly those of Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive who racked up $542,000 in charges for high-end menswear and expensive foreign trips all billed indirectly to the nonprofit gun rights group.
Now we know the NRA also considered buying LaPierre a roughly $5 million, 10,000-square-foot mansion outside Dallas as a safety precaution, according to unnamed sources familiar with the matter who spoke with the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
Documents detailing the potential purchase, which was never completed, were turned over to the New York attorney general’s office by the advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, the two newspapers reported late Tuesday.
New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation in April to determine whether the NRA, which is chartered in New York state, deserves to keep its tax-exempt status. She recently expanded the probe to include 90 current and former board members, issuing subpoenas to them this week.
Ackerman McQueen ended its strained relationship with the NRA in June and has since been cooperating with James.
The idea of the nonprofit gun rights group buying a luxury home reportedly arose after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. LaPierre was concerned for his safety, the Wall Street Journal noted, because the address of his home in northern Virginia, where he lives with his wife, was publicly known.
LaPierre earned $1.37 million from the NRA in 2017.
The NRA has said that LaPierre’s travel and clothing expenses were necessary for business purposes. Regarding the mansion, the group’s attorney said in a statement that it was suggested by Ackerman McQueen as an investment to be managed by the ad firm, which the company denies.
The security question has also plagued the group’s current president, Carolyn Meadows, who stepped into the role following a failed leadership coup earlier this year. (Former president Oliver North tried to seize control from LaPierre in April; it didn’t work.)
Meadows has solicited the help of local police to guard her Georgia home, a Cobb County Sheriff’s Office spokesman confirmed to HuffPost. The spokesman said Meadows is paying for the service, but it is not clear whether the NRA is reimbursing her.
What might have been LaPierre’s mansion, which is still on the market, is situated in a gated golf course community north of Dallas. Styled like a French country estate, the home includes lakefront views, top-of-the-line appliances, an antique marble fireplace, heated bathroom floors, a private exercise studio and an astroturf dog run. It has four bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
The real estate deal would have been financed “by the NRA through a structure involving a limited-liability company,” according to the Journal.
The gun rights group was already in dire financial straits around the time of the proposal and cut back on employee pensions in 2018 to cope with mounting debt.
As the NRA’s financial missteps became publicly known, one former NRA employee lashed out in a scathing open letter published to Facebook in April. Andy Lander, who worked for the group for more than 13 years, said he regularly had to work two to four different jobs to make ends meet during his time at the NRA and feels disgusted by its leadership’s spending decisions.
“I can think of no other non-profit organization that compensates their Executive Vice President the kind of salary and benefits that Mr. LaPierre gets relative to how much employees receive,” Lander wrote.