After years of denying allegations of lax financial oversight, the National Rifle Association admitted that current and former executives used the nonprofit’s money for personal benefit and enrichment, reports the Washington Post. The NRA said in a tax filing that it is reviewing the alleged abuse of funds, as the tax-exempt organization curtails services and runs up multimillion-dollar legal bills. The assertion of impropriety comes four months after New York Attorney General Letitia James accused NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and other NRA leaders of using organization funds for decades to provide inflated salaries and expense accounts. The tax return says the NRA “became aware during 2019 of a significant diversion of its assets.” The filing says LaPierre and five former executives received “excess benefits,” an Internal Revenue Service term to describe executives’ enriching themselves at the expense of a nonprofit entity.
The filing says LaPierre “corrected” his financial lapses with a repayment and that former executives “improperly” used NRA funds or charged the nonprofit for expenses that were “not appropriate.” LaPierre reimbursed the organization nearly $300,000 in travel expenses covering 2015 to 2019. The tax filing acknowledges disputes over alleged financial abuses the NRA blames on departed officers, including former president Oliver North and former chief lobbyist Chris Cox. The NRA said it is investigating unnamed board members for flying first class without authorization. “This is the type of cleanup I would expect to see after a history of gross violations of nonprofit law,” said University of Pittsburgh law Prof. Philip Hackney, a former IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt organizations. New York lawyer and expert on nonprofits Daniel Kurtz said, “It’s a smart move by the NRA instead of digging in their heels, though who knows how they came up with the numbers. It’s an admission of wrongdoing, for sure.”