Amid internal squabbling over spending at the National Rifle Association lie deeper financial problems, the New York Times reports. A review of tax records shows that the powerful lobbying group has increasingly relied on cash infusions and other transactions involving its affiliated foundation, at least $206 million worth since 2010. The role of the foundation is among the issues being examined in an investigation into the NRA’s tax-exempt status by the New York attorney general, Letitia James. At issue for investigators would be whether that money was being used for charitable purposes, as required by law, and not to help finance the NRA’s political activities.
The organization’s financial woes — what former president Oliver North called an “existential crisis” — are at the root of a power struggle that has pitted CEO Wayne LaPierre, the public face of the gun-rights movement, against North, a right-wing celebrity since the Iran-contra scandal in the 1980s. Also enmeshed in the conflict is the NRA’s estranged advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen. NRA officials said its woes are overstated. Opponents “are trying to paint this false narrative that we’re in deep financial trouble, and I think it’s wishful thinking on their part,” said Todd Rathner, a lobbyist and longtime NRA board member. Still, signs of stress are evident. Member dues fell to their lowest level in a half-decade in 2017, after President Trump’s election.