Just Slipped Wayne’s Mind

Mike Spies of The Trace is no friend of the NRA. He also does damn good research and always has his facts correct. He pretty much has to or else he’d be sued by the NRA for libel.

He came out with a new report yesterday in The Trace regarding Wayne LaPierre’s yacht trips in the Bahamas and the role played by Colleen Sterner, Wayne’s niece, in the NRA. The yacht trips in the Bahamas were on a yacht owned by David McKenzie whose company is a contractor for the NRA. Sterner was hired to work with the NRA’s Womens Leadership Forum and is still employed by the NRA. Her hiring came at the behest of Susan LaPierre.

Wayne has testified that the yacht trips were for security reasons. This was especially true of the 2013 trip as it happened just a few months after the Newtown school murders. What Wayne failed to mention in his sworn testimony is that this trip just happened to coincide with his niece’s wedding in the Bahamas and that both couples then cruised around the Bahamas afterwards.

From the article:

Under questioning about the yacht trip, LaPierre did not disclose the wedding. Instead, he testified under oath that he used the boat that summer because his life was in imminent danger. He said that trip — the first of six annual summer voyages on the yacht in the Bahamas, from 2013 to 2018 — was a “security retreat” and the only way he could be safe after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. LaPierre explained that he was under “Presidential threat without Presidential security” and that the boat “was offered” as a refuge. When he finally got to the yacht, he recalled thinking, “Thank God I’m safe, nobody can get me here.”

Internal NRA documents, other records, and interviews with former staffers suggest that LaPierre repeatedly made misleading and possibly false statements under oath about the yacht and his niece. LaPierre testified that Sterner, whom he hired at the NRA, was an integral employee in the organization, but former colleagues, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, say she did little work. 

The NRA’s outside counsel Bill Brewer contends that these trips were disclosed and they were for security reasons. Note that supposedly Brewer represents the NRA and not Wayne LaPierre. Right.

As to Mrs. Sterner, numerous staffers involved with the WLF say she really did very little work for the Forum. The work she did do such as ordering flowers was rather menial. No one has mentioned nepotism but it is what it is. One of the events she was supposed to be involved with was a 2017 event held by the WFL in conjunction with the Safari Club International Convention.

From the article:

The former staffers expressed astonishment to me at LaPierre’s claims under oath. “Colleen was not involved in the planning of, or participation in, any event or donor visits,” one said. “If she and her husband were there, neither of them had a hand in helping coordinate donor activities, events, or soliciting items for the annual auction.” The person added: “There were corporate relations individuals who needed to be at events during show season and had children at home. They were never offered any enhanced accommodation, let alone traveling by private jet with their spouse and child.” A second person said that “there was absolutely no indication” Sterner worked at the Las Vegas gathering. She could not be found on the convention floor or at parties, dinners, receptions, or strategy breakfasts hosted by Susan. At one point, the WLF sponsored a private luncheon for about a dozen wealthy female hunters who, based on their accomplishments, were called the Dianas, after the Roman goddess of hunting. The event, in the penthouse of the Four Seasons, was hosted by Susan. Sterner was not there, either, people with knowledge of the gathering told me. 

I’m getting the feeling with Susan out as co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Forum that staffers are feeling less constrained about venting their frustration over her treatment of them over the years.

I do disagree with Spies NYU Law School Professor Stephen Gillers that this will be ammunition that will help James dissolve the NRA. What it will help do is remove Wayne and the existing leadership of the NRA. I believe the judge in the case is less inclined to actually dissolve the organization but probably has no hesitation cleaning house.

3 thoughts on “Just Slipped Wayne’s Mind”

  1. I do disagree with Spies that this will be ammunition that will help James dissolve the NRA. What it will help do is remove Wayne and the existing leadership of the NRA.

    Maybe I keep overlooking a part, but I didn’t get that same assertion from the piece that Spies was suggesting this helps James target NRA. I think his references to the complaint are to the Wayne-specific charges. Whenever I go look at the complaint language, the reference to the Bahamas and yacht are in the Wayne charge section, not the NRA. In fact, NRA is given a bit of a break because they highlight that Wayne admitted under oath that he withheld the yacht trip gifts from NRA’s team who review such things. James admitted in Wayne’s section of the complaint that NRA had an existing policy on such gifts, but it was Wayne who made the decision to hide who was giving him the trip.

    I kind of wish these were all different cases so it would make it easier for commentators and reporters to cover without getting extremely wordy. However, I suspect the reason James didn’t break it up into separate cases was because it would really draw attention to the fact that there were only a handful of bad actors who, unfortunately, reached the top leadership and then shaped NRA’s practices to keep them in those roles. It would also make it easier and clearer to distinguish between behavior by some that is problematic, but not really crossing into illegal and those who committed outright fraud (or actions that look an awful lot like it and may fall under other criminal statutes) against the organization. Only by clumping in the very worst offenders and their charges in with the organization and everyone else do they have any chance of creating a picture of a group that must be dissolved rather than just a group in need of a housecleaning.

    I do agree that there’s a chance that it could help the James case on the LaPierre front. If she can use this to get more documents and evidence to support this was 100% just the wedding and a vacation, then she might be able to convince the judge that Wayne lies under oath. And that, I believe like you and Spies seem to, that it will help strengthen her charges against Wayne in particular. Spies is just limited by word counts (he published elsewhere first) and the fact that it would take a paragraph to explain the different parts of the lawsuit to a casual reader.

    1. You are correct. I have re-read the article. It actually was Stephen Gillers of NYU School of Law who made the assertion.

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