A massive joint report from The Trace and The New Yorker alleges that the National Rifle Association has intentionally hidden significant portions of its financial records, allowed several arrangements despite conflicts of interest, and participated in dubious pay schemes. And, it continues to beg its members for more funding, HuffPost reports.
The Trace reporter Mike Spies investigated state filings and internal documents for his story published on Wednesday. He found that hundreds of millions of dollars in donations were given to executives and vendors high up the NRA ladder, and that Ackerman McQueen, the public relations company that has collaborated with the gun lobbying group for over forty years, has facilitated the scandalous practices.
"The NRA and Ackerman McQueen have become so intertwined that it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins," Spies wrote in his report. “According to interviews and to documents that I obtained — federal tax forms, charity records, contracts, corporate filings, and internal communications — a small group of NRA executives, contractors, and vendors has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements.
.”Memos created by a senior NRA employee describe a workplace distinguished by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed, whose leaders have encouraged disastrous business ventures and questionable partnerships, and have marginalized those who object,” he continued. “‘Management has subordinated its judgment to the vendors,’ the documents allege. ‘Trust in the top has eroded.’”
Former head of the Internal Revenue Service department responsible for tax-exempt organizations Marc Owens said that the “litany of red flags is just extraordinary.”
“The materials reflect one of the broadest arrays of likely transgressions that I’ve ever seen,” he told The Trace. “There is a tremendous range of what appears to be the misuse of assets for the benefit of certain vendors and people in control. Those facts, if confirmed, could lead to the revocation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status.”
According to The Trace report, the NRA is unlikely to survive without its tax-exempt status.
Following the release of the report, Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action tweeted on Thursday that the gun safety organization Everytown has filed a complaint to the IRS to investigate the NRA’s status.