Good morning, Bulletin readers. Topping today’s briefing: Takeaways from The New York Times Magazine‘s lengthy profile of NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, which weaves a narrative of the internal turmoil and legal problems sparked by the investigative journalism of The Trace and other outlets.
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National Rifle Association insiders fear Wayne LaPierre could face a criminal case for personal spending of tax-exempt funds. New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating the NRA’s possible civil violations of nonprofit law since this spring, after reporting by The Trace and other media outlets uncovered a pattern of self-dealing within the organization’s upper ranks. In a new feature for The New York Times Magazine, reporter Danny Hakim writes that unnamed members of the gun group’s inner circle, along with veterans of the New York AG’s office, believe that James may consider referring LaPierre for possible criminal prosecution. A former head of the attorney general’s charities bureau spelled out the critical question: “If the expenses incurred by Mr. LaPierre were not legitimate business expenses of the NRA, and if he conspired with others within or outside the NRA to incur those expenses in a way that would conceal them, then criminal charges could not only be brought against Mr. LaPierre, but also the others who were involved in the scheme.” About those expenses: Our illustrated guide collects examples of the transactions now drawing legal scrutiny, including LaPierre’s six-figure clothing purchases, private jet travel, and luxury international hotel stays.
More takeaways from the Times Magazine story: Hakim’s article includes an extensive on-the-record interview with LaPierre, the first such sit-down the NRA chief has given in years. Running through LaPierre’s remarks are a distinct persecution complex. LaPierre on the NRA’s ongoing turmoil: “It’s the most painful period of my life.” On internal scrutiny of NRA spending: “I mean, it was literally, weekly, weekly, weekly, like this, waterboarding of me.” On the official investigations that have resulted from decisions made on his watch: “Everyone knows we were singled out.” For more takeaways, check out this summary from The Trace’s gun lobby reporter Will Van Sant.
The legal battle between the NRA and its former marketing firm has now engulfed a former NRATV host. Ackerman McQueen, which ran the now-defunct channel, told Newsweek that it’s planning to take legal action against Grant Stinchfield, who said in a sworn statement that Ackerman had mismanaged the channel. Ackerman dismisses Stinchfield’s accusations as “fabrications.”
🎧Listen🎧: Slate’s “What Next” podcast hosted Trace deputy editor Tali Woodward to talk about our new audio collaboration on what kids experience during school shooter drills. The discussion also touched on The Trace’s reporting on ALICE, an influential for-profit firm whose active shooter trainings include giving teachers and students the option of confronting gunmen.
Facebook, Instagram ban influencers from promoting guns. The social media platforms already prohibit ads for firearms (along with vaping and tobacco products). The new policy will close a loophole that allowed influencers to promote firearms, thereby giving gun companies a way to escape the ad ban.
The Department of Justice launched a $71 million campaign to fight violent crime in cities. The grants are part of the new Operation Relentless Pursuit, which calls for a surge of federal agents in seven cities with violent crime rates above the national average: Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee. The DOJ said the grant money will be used to “hire new officers, pay overtime and benefits, finance federally deputized task force officers, and provide mission-critical equipment and technology.”
2 U.S. Senators call for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish standards on gun locks. Connecticut Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy introduced the measure that augments a separate bill introduced in the House and Senate in May. The measure would set national standards for the safe storage of guns and provide incentives for states to adopt their own storage rules.
A neo-Nazi disarmed under Washington State’s red flag law was charged with violating his gun ban. Kaleb Cole, 24, heads the state chapter of the Atomwaffen Division. He was stripped of an AK-47-type pistol, a high-capacity drum magazine, and his concealed pistol license in October under an extreme risk protection order sought by the Seattle Police Department. This week, local prosecutors charged Cole over a traffic stop during which he was found with a pistol, an AR-15, and two AK-47s. He now faces a possible five-year ban on gun possession.
A Baltimore man collecting Christmas gifts for kids who lost parents in shootings was fatally shot. Sean Davis, 33, was killed Tuesday outside the auto repair shop where he worked. On Sunday, he announced his “Fallen Fathers Toy Drive” for kids who’ve lost a parent to gun violence. Davis “was very respected by the community,” City Council President Brandon Scott said.
At least 101 cities, towns, and counties in Virginia have declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” that pledge to not enforce the new state gun laws expected to be passed there early next year. — Virginia Citizens Defense League