The National Rifle Association filed a second lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen yesterday in Alexandria (VA) Circuit Court. The lawsuit accuses Ack-Mac of leaking sensitive documents to the press, of trying to engineer an executive coup, and of seeking to tarnish the reputation and public image of the NRA and its senior executives. The lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages.
According to the Wall Street Journal which was one of the new organizations that had stories on the leaked documents:
The Wall Street Journal was among the media outlets to which the NRA accused Ackerman of “directly or indirectly” leaking confidential information.
The Journal published an article earlier this month about Ackerman McQueen letters sent to the NRA related to Mr. LaPierre’s more than $500,000 in alleged wardrobe and travel expenses. The letters had been posted anonymously on the internet.
A spokesman for Dow Jones & Co. declined to comment. Dow Jones is owned by News Corp, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement, Ackerman called the new lawsuit “another reckless attempt to scapegoat Ackerman McQueen for the NRA’s own breakdown in governance, compliance and leadership.”
The Daily Beast was the first outlet with the story yesterday afternoon. From their report:
“Over the past year, even as it withheld important documents and information from the NRA, AMc [Ackerman McQueen] readily shared snippets of confidential and proprietary materials with hostile third parties, including the news media–in a series of sordid, out-of-context ‘leaks’ engineered by AMc to harm its client,” the complaint reads.
An Ackerman McQueen spokesperson defended the firm.
“It is a sad day for NRA members that their leadership is more focused on attacking partners than fighting for freedom,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Once again the National Rifle Association leadership’s new lawsuit is another reckless attempt to scapegoat Ackerman McQueen for the NRA’s own breakdown in governance, compliance and leadership. We have done our job to protect the brand for decades and have continued to do so despite shameless and inaccurate attacks on our integrity and our personnel by a leadership group that is desperate to make this a story about anything other than their own failures.”
The story in the Daily Beast goes on to say that the lawsuit said that Ollie North was working as “an employee” of Ackerman McQueen when he said Wayne LaPierre should resign or damaging information would be released.
While I don’t have a copy of the actual complaint yet and thus don’t know who is the attorney of record, this second lawsuit comports with the advice typically given by the NRA’s outside legal counsel William Brewer III.
With regard to Brewer, the Daily Beast reported:
As of press time, the advertising firm has not entered court filings rebutting the NRA’s allegations. As the NRA’s legal fights metastasize, so do its legal bills. Leaked documents authenticated by The Daily Beast indicate that the NRA’s outside lawyer, Bill Brewer, has charged the gun group more than $24 million since signing on with them last year. That number came in a letter North wrote raising concerns about the NRA’s leadership. Outside legal ethics experts who reviewed North’s letter told The Daily Beast it raised serious concerns, and that the bills were “off the charts.”
Charles Cotton, who heads the audit committee of the NRA board, has said North’s claims are incorrect and that the NRA is pleased with Brewer’s work.
“Importantly, the relationship has been viewed, vetted, and approved,” he said in a statement.
Cotton is now the 1st Vice President and the presumptive choice to move into the presidency after Carolyn Meadows. Friends who are active in the gun rights movement in Texas note that Cotton was “anti-open carry and anti-liberty” though they did note Cotton did lash out at the current Speaker of the Texas House who is even worse at the beginning of the current session.
While I will say a pox on both their houses – I’m no fan of either Wayne or Ack-Mac – I see this as a counter-attack to muddy the waters even more. It is also a waste of money and diverts legal attention from the critical battle which is coming. The battle will not be with Ack-Mac, the battle will be with NY Attorney General Letitia James and the NY Charities Bureau to stave off dissolution of the NRA itself. I see that battle as the legal equivalent of the Battle of Stalingrad. The lax oversight of Ack-Mac and Wayne by the board when combined with the lavish salaries and extravagant spending have only served to provide our blood enemies ammunition with which to attack us.
UPDATE: I was able to get a copy of the complaint and you can read the whole thing here.