Reports of unsustainable spending and self-dealing at the National Rifle Association have revealed its leader, the self-styled populist firebrand Wayne LaPierre, to be a man who appreciates Italian suits, chartered jets, and five-star resorts. Now, newly leaked documents show that the group considered adding to his posh lifestyle a $6 million, French-style mansion nestled behind the eight-foot walls of an exclusive private Dallas neighborhood.
According to The Washington Post, the NRA did not move forward with the purchase. But the internal discussions over acquiring a luxury property for LaPierre have drawn the scrutiny of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating whether the NRA violated its tax-exempt status by allowing insiders to use their positions to enrich themselves.
The Post’s sources say the estate was to be paid for through a corporate entity to which the NRA wired $70,000 dollars in 2018. People familiar with the house hunting told the paper that LaPierre sought to move from his residence in Northern Virginia because he was worried about his safety during the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.
In a newly obtained document, the accountant raised ethical and billing concerns about the law firm of William A. Brewer III, whose fees totaled $24 million in a year.
Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s erstwhile marketing and PR firm, says it was alarmed when LaPierre sought its assistance in acquiring the mansion in Dallas, where Ackerman has an office. The NRA, through its attorney and spokesperson, counters that the real estate acquisition was Ackerman’s idea. The two sides fell into a bitter legal fight this spring and have subsequently dissolved their partnership.
Wherever the house shopping originated, it was happening while the NRA was facing a cash crunch precipitated by its ballooning spending and declining dues payments from members. As detailed by The Trace and The New Yorker, hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to a number of NRA executives, board members, and vendors through sweetheart deals and opaque financial vehicles. To cut costs, the organization froze contributions to employees’ pension plans and even eliminated free coffee at its headquarters.
The Dallas property, if untenable for a nonprofit organization, did have its charms. A Zillow listing mentions “lake views!”, a French Lacanche range in the kitchen, and heated floors in the his-and-hers master baths.
LaPierre’s wife, Susan, did quibble with one design detail, according to an email The Post reviewed. She thought the men’s closet may not be large enough.
An attorney who specializes in tax-exempt organizations told The Post the conversations about the mansion raise questions regarding “how the organization is being run and for whose benefit.”
On Monday, the New York AG’s office issued subpoenas to 90 current and former NRA board members, seeking documents and information regarding their oversight of the organization’s finances.
This post has been updated to reflect new information.