Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

Placeholder Image

Josh Powell, the NRA's former chief of staff.

Top Official Out at the NRA

Josh Powell, the National Rifle Association’s chief of staff for the past three years, is no longer in his position, according to an internal email first obtained by Newsweek. Last year, a Trace/ProPublica investigation found that Powell was implicated in two sexual harassment allegations.

A January 23 court filing first obtained by The Washington Post states that Powell was initially put on leave “pending an investigation by NRA counsel.” On February 1, John Frazer, the NRA’s general counsel and secretary, sent an email to the group’s board saying that Powell was “no longer employed by the NRA,” according to Newsweek. It’s not clear if Powell was fired or resigned.

Powell worked for the NRA board for less than three years before he was appointed chief of staff in May 2016. He directly advised NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, and was also at one point the gun group’s executive director of general operations, a position from which he was removed in December 2018.

In August, The Trace and ProPublica reported that Powell was the subject of two sexual harassment allegations. The first involved an NRA employee, and the gun group paid to settle the claim in 2017, according to three sources familiar with the matter. The second concerned an employee of the NRA’s longtime marketing firm, Ackerman McQueen. Ackerman officials say the latter accusation was a factor in the dissolution of its business relationship with the NRA. The two entities, are currently engaged in a legal battle that includes mutual allegations of financial malfeasance. The January 23 filing came to light in the context of their ongoing dispute.

Powell has been no stranger to controversy. A 2018 Trace investigation detailed his troubled history before joining the NRA, which included a trail of defaulted debts and 20 lawsuits from vendors alleging more than $400,000 in unpaid bills. He also came under the scrutiny of NRA accountants, who in a 2018 memo to the audit committee flagged several potential conflicts of interest, including payments to Powell’s father, a photographer, and to a vendor that hired Powell’s wife in 2017.