Feds Want NRA Lawyer Kicked Off Bankruptcy Case 

DOJ: Attorney's brother-in-law poses conflict of interest

Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images
February 19, 2021

The Department of Justice is trying to sack the NRA's top lawyer from its bankruptcy case.

William Neary, who runs part of the Department of Justice program enforcing bankruptcy laws in northern Texas, accused NRA outside counsel Bill Brewer of covering up his "divided loyalties and conflicts of interest" on Tuesday. He petitioned the court to remove Brewer, citing the NRA attorney's marriage to the sister of a former NRA contractor involved in the case, as well as accusations that Brewer overbilled the organization.

"These disqualifying conflicts are compounded by [Brewer]'s failure to disclose them in the Application and by [Brewer]'s failure to disclose all of its pre-petition compensation," Neary said in the filing.

Blocking Brewer from representing the NRA would sideline the man most directly responsible for the organization's legal strategy over the past several years. Brewer directly advised CEO Wayne LaPierre and the board on the bankruptcy filing in a bid to relocate to Texas and counter the New York attorney general's efforts to shut it down. Brewer's firm has collected $12 million in legal fees connected to the case in the past 90 days.

The NRA maintains that it properly vetted Brewer's firm to ensure there were no conflicts of interest. NRA first vice president Charles Cotton said that Neary was "misinformed" and that the group stands behind their longtime lawyer.

"I, and all the officers, fully support the work the firm is doing, the results achieved, and the value of its services," he said. "As we have stated before, this relationship has been reviewed, vetted, and approved."

Brewer's lucrative representation of the nation's largest gun-rights group generated infighting, which burst into public view in 2019, and a still-pending class-action suit filed by disgruntled donors. Neary cited accusations of overbilling the NRA made against Brewer in the New York case as one conflict that should keep him from representing the group.

"The NRA seeks to retain [Brewer] to represent it on the very matter that precipitated the filing of these bankruptcy cases and in which [Brewer]'s conduct is directly at issue," Neary said in the filing. "[Brewer] cannot be retained as counsel for the Debtors because [his firm] holds or represents interests adverse to those of the Debtors' estates."

Neary further pointed to Brewer's marriage to the sister of Ackerman McQueen CEO Revan McQueen, the group's largest potential creditor. He also said that Brewer failed to disclose he was prohibited by the United States Court for the Northern District of Texas from acting as counsel in actions involving the cases between the NRA and Ackerman.

Greg Garman, another NRA lawyer involved in the case, said the accusations against Brewer were unmerited. The attempt to force out a key legal adviser would prove costly to the group.

"The NRA is aware of these claims, and has previously determined they lack merit," Garman said. "It would cost the NRA millions of dollars in additional costs to replace the Brewer firm, given the firm's unique understanding of the Association and its legal issues."