Former NRA chief of staff admits wrongdoing before corruption trial

Gun Rights
Conference room, blue carpet, people at booth

Former NRA chief of staff admits wrongdoing before corruption trial

Joshua Powell, one of five defendants in lawsuit including former CEO Wayne LaPierre, has agreed to pay $100,000

A former chief of staff to Wayne LaPierre – who resigned as the National Rifle Association’s chief executive on Friday – has agreed to a $100,000 settlement in connection with a civil lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general’s office.

As part of the settlement announced on Saturday, Joshua Powell – one of five defendants in the lawsuit against the NRA, a gun-rights organization – admitted to wrongdoing in failing to fulfill his fiduciary responsibilities and misusing charitable funds.

“Joshua Powell’s admission of wrongdoing and Wayne LaPierre’s resignation confirm what we have alleged for years: the NRA and its senior leaders are financially corrupt,” a statement from the New York attorney general, Letitia James, said. “These are important victories in our case, and we look forward to ensuring the NRA and the defendants face justice for their actions.”

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The New York attorney general’s office sued the NRA after alleging the organization’s senior management misused millions of dollars to fund the use of private jets, expensive meals and family trips to the Bahamas. The office has noted that the NRA, registered as a not-for-profit charity in New York, had legal obligations to use its funds for charitable purposes.

The NRA and its senior officials have repeatedly but unsuccessfully sought a dismissal of the lawsuit. They also tried but failed to secure a change in trial venue.

In January 2021, the NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Four months later, a Texas court rejected its petition as being filed in bad faith.

The civil trial against the NRA and its senior management is scheduled to begin on Monday.

LaPierre, 74, announced his resignation on Friday – the last business day before the trial’s scheduled start – citing health concerns. His resignation is set to take effect on 31 January.

He has led the NRA since 1991. As head of the organization, LaPierre was well known for extreme rightwing rhetoric in opposition to growing calls for substantial gun-control legislation in response to the epidemic of mass shootings in the US.

For instance, after 20 children were shot to death in their Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school in 2012, many people expected that the NRA would be forced to be conciliatory. LaPierre instead responded with a news conference in which he said: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He advocated for simply placing armed guards in schools across the US.

The lawsuit against the NRA and its senior management accuses LaPierre of using the organization’s funds for personal travel, including to pay for flights that his associates or family took without him even onboard.

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