New allegations of potentially unethical spending have rocked the National Rifle Association, this time with the organization directing funds to board members, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
In all, 18 of the NRA’s 76 board members — who are not paid for their service — received some form of compensation over the past three years, despite their roles in overseeing the group’s finances.
That compensation includes $400,000 paid to former pro footballer Dave Butz for consulting work, $3.1 million to firearms executive Pete Brownell for various products and membership commissions, and $50,000 to rock performer Ted Nugent for appearances.
None of the payments appear to be illegal, according to 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” — but the lawyer said in his 25 years in the field, he has never seen anything like it.
“...the pattern raises a threshold question of who the organization is serving,” he told The Post. “Is it being run for the benefit of the gun owners in the country and the public? Or is it being run as a business generating enterprise for officers and employees of the organization?”
In response to the allegations, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam suggested the organization has little choice in its decisions, due to gun-control groups pressuring companies into avoiding the NRA. The result is that “the pool becomes smaller. Therefore, connections between employees or board members and partners are not unusual,” Arulanandam said.
Still, some NRA members are displeased with what they see as mismanagement of their membership dues:
“I will be the first person to get in your face about defending the Second Amendment, but I will not defend corruption and cronyism and fearmongering,” said Vanessa Ross, a Philadelphia-area bakery owner and lifetime NRA member who previously worked at the Virginia headquarters managing a program for disabled shooters.
The latest revelations follow previous reports that CEO Wayne LaPierre " racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique and on foreign travel."