Monday, April 05, 2021

NRA faces internal woes as it girds for new gun control fight

...Four years later, though, the NRA is confronting challenges that have undercut the power of the long-feared lobby organization, even as new gun control measures are proposed after two mass shootings in a week in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo. The group has been plagued by infighting and allegations of self-dealing and is defending itself against a sweeping lawsuit filed in August by the New York attorney general that alleges that the organization violated its nonprofit status as its top leaders allegedly raided the organization’s coffers for personal gain. The NRA disclosed last year that it was cutting salaries and preparing to lay off employees as donations dried up during the coronavirus pandemic. Several key executives left the organization in the past two years, including the NRA’s former top lobbyist Chris Cox, who resigned in 2019. And political spending dropped significantly last year compared with the previous cycle. In 2016, the NRA spent $54.4 million on political advocacy, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2020, that spending fell to $29.4 million. Now, the NRA’s top executives are soon likely to take the stand in a Dallas courtroom, a potentially bruising public display, in a federal hearing scheduled to open April 5 to determine whether the organization will be allowed to declare bankruptcy, as it requested earlier this year...The bankruptcy proceedings are likely to reveal embarrassing new details about the organization’s internal workings and extravagant spending. Already, filings associated with the process have documented that the group was informed by the IRS that it owes $3.4 million in taxes dating to 2014 and that it paid for mosquito control at LaPierre’s home, citing the expense as intended for “security purposes.” NRA lawyers say the organization has acknowledged past fiscal problems and has worked to rectify them, making a “commitment to good governance” and replacing top officers...NRA officials say efforts by President Biden and Democratic majorities in Congress to push ahead with gun legislation will spur a spike in membership and renewed donations to the group. They say 140,000 new members have joined since the election alone and that the group’s financial situation is strong. But the new gun-control campaign also will serve as a test of the NRA’s continued political clout in the face of its challenges, its opponents said...In filings, James has argued that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlan Hale should reject the bankruptcy petition as a ploy to avoid accountability in New York. Brewer, the NRA’s outside counsel, said the group looked forward to litigating the claims, which he called “contrived.” Other creditors of the organization told the judge that they support the NRA’s position, arguing that bankruptcy is the appropriate route to protect the group against the consequences of the New York action...MORE

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