The National Rifle Association has been enmeshed in a wide-ranging scandal of late. No, not the one in which a Russian agent cozied up to multiple NRA bigwigs. No, not the heated rhetoric aimed at mass-shooting survivors or the steady stream of NRA leaders and commentators saying bug-crazy things about the potential need for gun owners to take up arms against secret ISIS enclaves or, in an emergency, neighbors asking you to share your stockpiled survival food. The money one. The one about top NRA officials seemingly using the nation’s best-funded militia group as a piggybank, with CEO Wayne LaPierre billing the group hundreds of thousands for foreign family getaways and clothes shopping in Beverly Hills.
It turns out, according to reporting by The Washington Post, that about a quarter of the NRA’s unpaid board has been paid by the NRA in the last three years. The bills are for services ranging from membership commissions and consulting to country music performances and the purchase of a truck. Being an unpaid member of the NRA board turns out to potentially pay pretty well, if the group finds itself “needing” the service you just happen to provide.
That’s not necessarily illegal, according to the Post’s experts. But it is somewhere in the general vicinity.
“In 25 years of working in this field, I have never seen a pattern like this,” said Douglas Varley, a Washington attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who specializes in tax-exempt organizations and reviewed the NRA’s federal and state filings from 2016 through 2018 for The Washington Post. “The volume of transactions with insiders and affiliates of insiders is really astonishing.”
The NRA is continuing to insist that there is nothing to see here: It is just a bit of friendly “connections” in the small and insular world of bug-crazy murder fetishists. And Wayne LaPierre needs those tremendously expensive suits in order to, you know, better bond with outdoorsmen, or whatever. Can’t talk about guns without a top-of-the-line tailored suit—that’s just common sense.
There seems to be no end to the NRA’s troubles, which is good and proper and about damn time. Even members who are not particularly bothered by the group’s toxic rhetoric might have second thoughts about paying into what appears to be mostly(?) a self-enrichment program for top NRA officials.