Hiring people with strange or spotty backgrounds

As we reported back in 2018, chief of staff Joshua Powell had several business flops and unpaid debts before landing a cushy job at the NRA. LaPierre also brought former NRA employee John Frazer back into the fold as general counsel when he had only 18 months in private law practice under his belt. LaPierre acknowledged to investigators that he had not reviewed Frazer’s full legal credentials and background.

Ex-treasurer Woody Phillips, embezzled at least $1 million from his prior company before being hired by the NRA, according to former colleagues. And in 1995, LaPierre hired a personal assistant after she had been convicted of embezzling from a nonprofit where she worked in the 1980s. According to the suit, she had her corporate credit card suspended in the 2000s, after paying personal expenses with NRA funds. And in 2012, she billed the NRA for $18,000 for expenses related to her son’s wedding, which she never reimbursed.

Dubious post-retirement contracts for former employees

In 2008, an NRA employee of 35 years, Wayne Sheets, retired and assumed the role of executive director of the NRA’s charitable foundation. The Trace reported that he continued to be paid $30,000 per month as a fundraising consultant. According to the complaint, Sheets “admitted that he did not keep accurate records of fundraising he conducted” and that “his position was not subject to quantifiable outcomes or any form of metrics.” The contract included “actual reasonable and necessary expenditures, which are directly related to the consulting services” that were processed without documentation. But in 2016 alone, the NRA reimbursed him for $148,314 for fees that included monthly truck leases and membership costs for fraternal organizations like the International Order of St. Hubertus.

Little to no internal oversight of spending

In May 2019, The Trace and The New Yorker reported on a memo drafted by NRA accountants for the group’s audit committee — a select group of board members tasked with financial oversight — that described “vague and deceptive” accounting practices and violations of internal policies. The attorney general alleges that the board’s lack of “oversight resulted in waste and loss of the NRA’s charitable assets and contributed to the NRA reaching its currently deteriorated financial state.” The chair of the audit committee told investigators that “he had no knowledge of New York law governing audit committees, whistleblowers, or conflicts of interest, and could not recall the last time he had seen the charter” of his own NRA committee.

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