US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas: The National Rifle Association announced Friday that it has filed for bankruptcy and will seek to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun rights group in Texas instead of New York.
The announcement came months after the New York Attorney General sued the organization over allegations that senior executives illegally misappropriated tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenses.
The coronavirus pandemic has also upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees. The group canceled its national convention and scuttled fundraising. The NRA’s bankruptcy filing lists between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 and $500 million in liabilities. Yet the NRA claimed in announcing the decision that the organization was “in its strongest financial position in years.”
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it plans to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability company, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC filed a separate bankruptcy filing on Friday, listing less than $100,000 in liabilities.
In its filing, the NRA said its longtime chief, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy in consultation with a “special litigation committee” made up of three senior executives. the NRA which was formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA’s board of directors voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre’s employment contract, giving him authority to “reorganize or restructure the affairs” of the organization.

Wayne LaPierre, director of the National Rifle Association, and other gun lobby officials are accused of embezzling gun lobby money for lavish personal spending. (AFP file photo)

“This move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York City,” the NRA said in a statement.
A message seeking comment was left for a Dallas attorney who filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the NRA and Sea Girt LLC.
Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “shirk accountability” or oversight. The lawsuit filed by his office last year highlighted allegations of wasteful and insider spending that have plagued the NRA and LaPierre in recent years — from hair and makeup for his wife to an after-deal. $17 million job for himself.
“The NRA’s claimed financial situation has finally reached its moral status: bankrupt,” James said.
The gun advocacy group has around 5 million members. Although based in Virginia, the NRA was incorporated as a nonprofit in New York City in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee would study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere.
The biggest creditor to the NRA, which owed $1.2 million, is Ackerman McQueen, which is the former advertising agency of the group that was behind the now-closed NRA television service. The NRA sued the Oklahoma-based company in 2019, alleging it was overbilled and said in Friday’s bankruptcy filing that the debt owed to it was disputed. The trial is ongoing. A message seeking comment was left for Ackerman McQueen.
In the New York lawsuit, Ackerman McQueen was accused of contributing to lavish spending by LaPierre and other NRA executives by paying the tab and then sending a lump sum bill to the organization for the “expenses reimbursable”.
“No financial record can ever mask the moral bankruptcy of Wayne LaPierre and his wife and their pet dogs on the NRA Board of Directors, said Bill Powers, spokesman for Ackerman McQueen and former director of NRA public affairs.
Court records also show more than $960,000 owed to Membership Marketing Partners LLC, a company headquartered at the same address as the NRA. According to records, another $200,000 is owed to Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based company that owns and operates NASCAR tracks.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott quickly welcomed the news, tweeting, “Welcome to Texas – a state that protects the 2nd Amendment. The NRA said it has more than 400,000 members in Texas and plans to hold its annual convention in Houston later this year.

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