Update: 2/16/21 6:03 p.m. This post has been updated to include a statement from the NRA
The National Rifle Association owns expensive statues, a luxury SUV, and has a private jet service on standby, according to public court filings released Monday.
Among the NRA's assets are statues and paintings of its former president Charlton Heston worth nearly six figures, a Range Rover for the group's treasurer, and a prepayment to a private jet company. The group also listed liabilities including millions in disputed tax payments to the IRS, millions owed to fundraising companies, and hundreds of thousands owed to lawyers. Overall, the group has roughly $245 million in assets while owing about $112 million in liabilities.
The detailed financials of the NRA were revealed as part of a summary of assets filed with the federal court overseeing its bankruptcy.
While the NRA hopes the bankruptcy will help it relocate to Texas and stymie an effort by New York attorney general Letitia James (D.) to shut it down over accusations of financial impropriety, the bankruptcy process requires the group to share previously undisclosed information about its operations. The filing will likely lead to further scrutiny from critics both inside and outside the organization as members of the public scrub through the hundreds of pages of court documents.
The NRA legal strategy, which experts have described as "clever" but akin to a "Hail Mary," has already garnered pushback from disgruntled NRA members and at least one board member. Phillip Journey, a board member, filed a request with the bankruptcy court on Wednesday for a court-appointed examiner to study the group's finances. David Dell'Aquila, who is leading a class-action lawsuit of donors against the group, said in early February he plans to request the NRA's current leadership be removed in favor of a court-appointed trustee.
Dell'Aquila said the details from Monday's filing about the NRA's finances will help him pursue his claims against the group's leadership. "I'm going to use it to ask [the court] for a trustee," he said.
Some of those details include a 2018 Range Rover Sport among the group's 71-vehicle fleet, an $80,000 statue of former NRA president Charlton Heston as well as a $15,000 painting of him, and a $20,000 prepayment to Corporate America Aviation, which offers "discrete private transportation services" via private jet. The NRA filing said the group has over 1,000 creditors with claims ranging from a few dollars to a few million.
The largest claim against the NRA, outside of its pension fund, comes from the Internal Revenue Service, which is seeking $3.4 million from the group over a tax dispute dating back to 2014. But the NRA also owes millions to fundraising and merchandising companies including $1.4 million for Membership Marketing Partners, half a million for Communications Corp of America, and half a million for Global New Beginnings, Inc, among many others.
The NRA also reported a $180,000 claim from a company called Wayne LaPierre Expense Reports Reserve, which operates out of the group's Virginia headquarters. It is not clear what the claim is for. The NRA did not respond to a request for details on it.
The group also reported being involved in more than a dozen lawsuits, including ones against former executives such as Chris Cox and former contractors such as Ackerman McQueen. The many lawsuits help explain why the group reports owing millions of dollars to various law firms, like the nearly $600,000 owed to Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, over $250,000 owed to Briglia Hundley, and nearly $375,000 owed to Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Those claims are on top of the more than $12 million the NRA reported paying its top outside counsel Bill Brewer in the 90 days before filing. Dell'Aquila took special exception to Brewer's fees and said they were proof of continued mismanagement. He pointed to a recent failed attempt by Brewer to combine the various lawsuits the NRA is involved in.
"It was a Hail Mary pass legally," Dell'Aquila said. "It was this incredible waste of NRA members' money."
NRA declined to comment on much of the spending contained in the document, but defended its legal strategy and relationship with Brewer. Charles L. Cotton, chairman of the group's Audit Committee, said Brewer's contributions have helped to consolidate the group's legal expenses and will benefit members in the long term.
"I, and all the officers, fully support the work the firm is doing, the results achieved, and the value of its services," Cotton said. "This relationship has been reviewed, vetted and approved."
Dell'Aquila said the new revelations about the NRA's spending on lawyers, luxury SUVs, and more private flights only made him more eager to push the bankruptcy court to remove the group's leadership and replace them with a trustee.
Brewer did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Jack Beyrer contributed to this report.