Here's Why The NRA Is Broke

For decades, the NRA has worked hard to demonstrate that it is morally bankrupt by derailing any type of reform that would lead to common sense gun regulation and holding rallies in towns that recently experienced mass shootings. And now, that ethical emptiness has finally caught up to the organization's finances. CNN reported in January 2021 that the NRA had filed for bankruptcy in a New York court and planned to move its  operations down to Texas. In a press release published on its website, the NRA called New York, the state that had been its home since its founding in 1871, "a corrupt political and regulatory environment," and said that the bankruptcy filing enigmatically "comes at a time when the NRA is in its strongest financial condition in years."

Aside from the fact that filing for bankruptcy tends to signal the exact opposite of a strong financial condition, the NRA has also been plagued with a deluge of bad press in recent years over mismanagement of the funds the organization receives from it five million members in the form of dues. According to The Washington Post, tons of money went to board members who aren't supposed to receive salaries, and top executives went nuts with the organization's finances, spending millions on stuff that had nothing to do with protecting Americans' second amendment rights. Let's take a deeper look into how the NRA went broke.

The NRA's CEO liked his fancy things

In May 2019, an anonymous source leaked NRA documents which revealed that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre (seen at right, above) had grossly mismanaged the organization's finances for his own personal benefit. The Wall Street Journal reported that he charged over $500,000 to the NRA's advertising agency for things like clothing (he spent over $39,000 at a Beverly Hills boutique in one day), travel, and other personal expenses. The company said in court documents (online at Document Cloud) that LaPierre had "created a veritable black hole for unchecked spending that, in turn, appeared to be a legitimate vendor expense for purposes of NRA records." The other expenses the agency claimed he'd charged them included an $18,300 chauffeur and $13,800 for a summer intern's rent. He also racked up over $200,000 in plane tickets for Christmas trips to the Bahamas in 2012 and 2013. GQ reported that between 2004 and 2017, LaPierre shelled out nearly $300,000 for designer clothing, which he tried to charge to the NRA's former ad agency.

As you might expect, the news didn't go over too well with others in the organization. According to NPR, board members called for his resignation, saying things like "it is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house," and, "it is time for new management." At the time, LaPierre was most likely the highest paid nonprofit employee in the country: He pulled in a whopping $1.4 million.

LaPierre wasn't the only one bleeding the NRA dry

As more attention was put on the NRA's finances, it came to light that LaPierre wasn't the only one in the organization using it like an ATM machine. That Washington Post piece reported that of the 76 members on the NRA's board of directors, 18 had dipped their hands into the cookie jar over the preceding three years. The amounts ranged from $24,000 to $3.1 million, for everything from consulting by former NFL players to speeches by Republican advisers to rock concerts by self-professed gun fan Ted Nugent. Basically, the good, gun-toting people of America were shelling out their hard-earned dollars for this so-called "protector" of their constitutional rights, and those at the top of the supposed nonprofit were cashing in nicely.

Furthermore, as The Daily Beast reported, former NRA president Oliver North had written that the NRA had run up an astounding legal bill to the tune of $24 million. In those leaked documents, North said that he was "deeply concerned about the extraordinary legal fees the NRA has incurred" during all of its courtroom wrangling to make sure that there's basically no regulation at all for the dangerous weapons plaguing the nation with violence.