2018 NRA Executive Compensation

When looking at compensation, you have to look beyond mere salaries and bonuses. Total compensation includes both salaries and bonuses but it also includes things like deferred compensation, group life insurance, contributions to retirement plans, and taxable personal expenses.

I was finally able to get a copy of the 2018 Form 990 for the National Rifle Association. This is the tax report that all not-for-profits must file with the Internal Revenue Service. Both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations are included in this category. The NRA itself is a 501(c)(4) which allows it to engage in political campaign activities while the NRA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and is not allowed to engage in political campaign activities.

Below is a table of the 12 most highly compensated NRA officials ranging from Wayne LaPierre at the top to Director of Education and Training Eric Frohardt at the bottom. If you click on the icon on the bottom right of the embedded spreadsheet, it will open the full spreadsheet.

In the notes of page 3 of Schedule J of the Form 990 is this explanation of how compensation is determined.

Compensation of the NRA’s top management officials is established by methods including independent compensation consultants, compensation surveys and studies, and comparability data. In addition, under the NRA Bylaws compensation of certain elected officials (including the Executive Vice President) must be approved by the Board of Directors, based on recommendations by the compensation committee. All decisions are properly documented.

I have posted the 2018 Form 990 here for reference.

Since comparability data is one criterion used in establishing these officials compensation, I thought I’d look first at publicly traded firearms companies to see how they compensated their top managers. Their compensation is divided into two portions: cash compensation and equity (or stock) compensation. Equity compensation is used to align the interests of managers with that of stock holders.

At Sturm, Ruger and Company, CEO Chris Killoy had a 2018 salary of $500,000 with a profit sharing bonus of $60,324 and a performance bonus of $503,000. His total cash compensation was $1,063,324. Stock awards raised his total compensation to $2.1 million. Killoy manages a company with over 2,000 employees with plants in three states. By contrast, the NRA has somewhere between 500 and 1,000 employees. The base salaries of the other top managers at Ruger ranges from $240,000 to $325,000.

James Debney, CEO of American Outdoor Brands Corporation, had a higher salary in 2018 but no cash bonus. His cash compensation was his salary of $734,039. He did receive a substantial stock award which raised his total compensation to $2.2 million. He manages a workforce of 1,853 employees. Meanwhile, the base salaries of American Outdoor Brand executives range from a low of $283,000 to a high of $402,000 for the CFO.

When you look at other politically active 501(c)(4) organizations like the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood, the compensation of their executives is substantially less than that of the NRA. For example, Cecile Richards who was the CEO of Planned Parenthood had a total compensation of $1,033,274 from all sources. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club paid Executive Director Michael Brune a total of $333,797 and their CFO about $250,000.

When looking at the compensation of the top managers of the NRA, it is critical to look beyond Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox. Those two are (or were in Cox’s case) very highly compensated as you might expect. However, it is the salaries of next level down that are really concerning.

Who in their right mind could justify paying Josh Powell over $900,000 with a base salary greater than the CEO’s of either Ruger or American Outdoor Brands? Powell is the guy responsible for the debacle of NRA Carry Guard, the guy the NRA spent money on to settle his sexual harassment problems, and the guy who has run multiple companies into the ground. It is ridiculous!

When you compare the salaries of the managers one level down from Wayne to that of virtually any comparable manager in a publicly traded small cap company, there is no comparison. The NRA managers are compensated beyond the level of their position and responsibility. If I had to hazard a guess, they are being compensated as much for their loyalty to their master – Wayne – as for the work that they actually do. This is just not right and sadly I see no change coming in the near to mid future.

“His contributions to the NRA have been transformative.”

“Wayne LaPierre’s compensation reflects his enormous contributions to our members and the freedoms for which they fight,” NRA President Carolyn Meadows said in a statement. “His contributions to the NRA have been transformative.”

The statement from Mrs. Meadows come in response to reports in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post about Wayne LaPierre’s reported compensation in 2018. This comes from the not-yet public Form 990. That form is a financial report that all not-for-profits must file with the Internal Revenue Service annually.

The AP reports:

According to the filings, known as 990s, longtime NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s total compensation rose to more than $2 million. His base salary went from $1.17 million to $1.27 million, he received a bonus of about $455,000, and he got about $366,000 from a deferred compensation plan, according to the documents cited in media reports.

The story from the Wall Street Journal notes that revenues rose 13% while expenses rose 7% for the year. It also noted that Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, was paid $13.8 million in legal fees making it that third-largest NRA vendor. The largest vendor for 2018 was, as may be expected, Ackerman McQueen.

Ackerman was the largest outside vendor, having been paid $32 million, plus $6.3 million for out-of-pocket expenses, including media buys and “reimbursement of travel and business expenses.”

Given past reports regarding LaPierre’s use of AckMac to disguise his actual spending, I wonder how much of the reimbursement was for his personal expenses.

In addition to the reports on LaPierre’s compensation was this note in the Washington Post on the monies spent by NRA-ILA.

Spending by the political arm of the NRA dropped from $47.1 million in 2014 to $32.51 million in 2018, the filings show. That was the midterm election in which Democrats took over the House and gun-control groups outspent the gun lobby for the first time.

That is very concerning. The monies spent – or in my opinion, wasted – on Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, could have been used to support the campaigns of pro-gun candidates.

I will be requesting a copy of the 2018 Form 990 from the NRA Secretary’s Office. I have a feeling that it will contain many more unwelcome revelations.

As to the comment from Mrs. Meadows with which I started this post, I agree with her last sentence. LaPierre has been transformative for the NRA. However, if the last few years are any indication, it is not in the way that Meadows means or that you and I would want.

NOTE: If any of my readers has a copy of the 2018 Form 990 or a link to it, please send to me at jpr9954 AT gmail DOT com.

AckMac’s Counter-claim Makes Interesting Reading

I don’t know which side is telling the truth in the divorce between the NRA and AckMac. It could be neither of them. It could be both sides depending upon their perception of the issues.

I will note that the AckMac description of the influence on Wayne LaPierre by William Brewer III does strongly correlate with what insiders have told me. Brewer was described to have isolated LaPierre from long time friends and associates and fed his paranoia.

That said, the narrative in Ackerman McQueen’s reply and counter-claim filed on October 1st makes for interesting reading. Of particular interest are pages 19 through 42. The rest is mostly legalese. I have embedded it below. If you click on the heading, you can also download it to read later.

Ackerman McQueen Texas Coun… by Stephen Gutowski on Scribd

The Divorce Gets Uglier

The divorce between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen is ugly and is getting uglier. The NRA’s reply to Ackerman McQueen’s reply and counter-claim was filed with the US District Court on Friday. There were a number of news stories yesterday that excerpted parts of the reply with regard to NRATV and its characterization by the NRA as “distasteful” and “racist“.

The reply brought attention to an episode of NRATV featuring Dana Loesch in which she portrayed Thomas the Tank Engine in a KKK hooded robe.

From page 3 of the reply:

As AMc’s bills grew ever larger, NRATV’s messaging strayed from the Second Amendment to themes which some NRA leaders found distasteful and racist. One particularly damaging segment featured children’s cartoon characters adorned in Ku Klux Klan hoods. Unfortunately, attempts by the NRA to “rein in” AMc and its messaging were met with responses from AMc that ranged from evasive to hostile. At the same time, when NRA executives sought performance metrics for NRATV, AMc contrived a pretext to demand that each interlocutor be sidelined or fired. Simultaneously, in closed-door meetings with Mr. LaPierre (which AMc insisted remain “confidential”), the agency presented fabricated and inflated sponsorship and viewership claims. The simple request for the number of “unique visitors” to the site was not answered, despite multiple attempts by Mr. LaPierre and other NRA executives. In fact, AMc’s representations to the NRA leadership regarding the viewership for the digital platform it created, presented, and administered were, by 2017, intentionally (and wildly) misleading. Tellingly, when NRATV finally shut down in June 2019, no one missed it: not a single sponsor or viewer even called, confirming what at least some NRA executives suspected—the site had limited visibility and was failing the accomplish any of its goals.

Ackerman McQueen fired back today on the “distasteful” and “racist” claims in the NRA’s court filing. Like yesterday’s press release, the gloves are off and AckMac is taking no prisoners.

Ackerman McQueen recognized and handled the offensive imagery on the show, “Relentless”, in a proper fashion, like any media company would. We identified those responsible and put new processes and oversight in place. NRA executives acknowledged the corrective action taken by Ackerman McQueen, were satisfied with the response and a couple months later, renewed NRATV for 2019.

However, if the NRA wants to conduct a public conversation about distasteful and racist, they should consider their systematic behavior. This is the same executive leadership team and Board of Directors that refused to address the Philandro Castile tragedy. This the executive leadership team that put their heads in the sand every time a board member said something the could be perceived as distasteful or racist. This is the same executive team and Board of Directors that ignored, and didn’t even watch, the impactful programming that the NOIR team produced, telling important stories on minority issues. There are countless more examples, decisions and comments that plague the organization and will be a part of AMc’s defense.

As AMc said in its latest filing, Wayne LaPierre defrauded Ackerman McQueen. When AMc representatives discovered what he, his executive team as well as the Board of Directors were really doing, and AMc refused to have any part of it, the cabal that is left at the NRA retaliated. Now they want to blame anyone else for the people they actually are.

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AckMac Goes Nuclear On NRA

The NRA filed suit against Ackerman McQueen and some of their employees in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas at the end of August. Ackerman McQueen responded to the lawsuit on October 1st with a counter-claim and added a third party complaint naming Wayne LaPierre. On Friday, the NRA filed an amended complaint. I will get to each of these in a separate post.

Thanks to Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon, we have the press release sent out by AckMac in response to the amended complaint. It takes no prisoners. After saying that Wayne LaPierre defrauded AckMac many times as they declared in their court filing, they go on to say, in part:

LaPierre controlled every aspect of NRATV for which he recruited talent, approved every budget, audited every metric and required ultimate confidentiality. Ackerman McQueen routinely offered and toward the end of the relationship demanded an outside firm audit NRATV performance but LaPierre refused. Unlike the NRA, AMc welcomes full transparency. LaPierre’s apparent paranoia and lust for secrecy fed his justification for private air travel, luxury hotels and countless other expenses for himself, his family and friends that were all paid by member dues.

The membership is being misled. The NRA is pouring tens of millions of non-profit funds into lawyers and lawsuits to cover up the abject failure of executive and board leadership. They continue to contrive allegations that they are not currently proving and will continue to not be able to prove in any legal setting. Instead they grovel at the feet of the media they used to decry, hoping to create some spin for Wayne LaPierre.

The latest NRA legal filing is another cynical attempt to distract from Wayne LaPierre’s documented mismanagement of the organization and the captive board’s complicit behavior. These collective failures are the only reason the NRA faces multiple state attorneys general investigations, a US Senate Finance Committee investigation, calls for the IRS and FBI to investigate, a class-action lawsuit and countless legal disputes filed by the NRA intended to intimidate anyone who opposes LaPierre’s reported misuse of NRA resources.

Damn!

Given that AckMac helped build the image of Wayne LaPierre from the 1990s onwards, I suspect they know more about Wayne than most do or want to know. If we needed any more proof that the symbiotic relationship between Wayne and AckMac is over, we now have it.

One Way To Shore Up The NRA’s Balance Sheet

Mark Allendorf had a letter to the editor published in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. The short letter shown below urges anti-gun activists to join the NRA. He is of the opinion that it can be taken over from within.

If gun-control activists want to make a real impact, then I suggest that they join the National Rifle Association en masse and change the organization from within. Nothing else seems to work, so if you can’t beat them, then join the terrorists and convert them into a responsible organization that will support reasonable gun-control laws.


A yearly membership is $45. Surely there are hundreds of thousands of energized gun-control supporters who could invest the time and money needed to do the job, one that will cost a lot less than buying Congress, which the NRA has already done.

Mr. Allendorf has a profound ignorance of the organization’s bylaws.

To be able to vote on directors and bylaw changes you must, as most of my readers know, be either in one of the classes of Life Members or be a five year continuous annual member. You have to wonder how many of these anti-rights activists are willing to stick around every year for five years. I’d wager not that many.

Let’s say 200,000 ignorant anti-rights activists are energized by Mr. Allendorf’s call to action and actually pay the $45 to join as an annual member. Don’t you think both Wayne LaPierre and CFO Craig Spray would welcome that additional $9 million in membership dues? Of course they would!

The sad thing is that the NRA has already been taken over from within.

Through a mixture of bylaw changes, ignorance, inertia, and questionable actions, any pretense of member control was killed long ago. You have a board that answers to hired help. The Old Guard is showing no signs of any willingness to reform.

Reform will eventually come. It will come as a result of the New York Attorney General’s actions. Alternatively, it can come if enough voting members say enough. I know which alternative I prefer.

Someone Is Going Under The Bus

The New York Times ran a story by Danny Hakim regarding the financing of the “Russia trip”. It appeared in Thursday’s paper. The “Russia trip” was a visit to Moscow organized by Maria Butina. It was attended by former NRA President David Keene, then-1st VP Pete Brownell, Sheriff David Clarke, and some other board members. The trip was for the purpose of building stronger ties between the NRA and gun-rights supporters in Russia.

The financing of the trip has been of interest to both Congressional investigators and to NY Attorney General Letitia James. There have been a complicated series of personal checks and reimbursements which has attracted their attention. According to the article, the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III has asserted in internal presentations that “those involved had exposed themselves to wire fraud charges.” Other attorneys disagreed with this assertion.

Brewer is also asserting that Wayne LaPierre was opposed to the trip. This, however, is contradicted by emails from the time which marked trip-related invoices as “Wayne approved”.

While the whole financing issue is of interest to investigators, it is what is buried in this story that caught my attention. In other words, the story within the story. It concerns the bureaucratic infighting between some of LaPierre’s closest associates.

The invoices for the trip were overseen by LaPierre’s closest aide Millie Hallow.

The 2016 transactions were overseen by Millie Hallow, an aide to Mr. LaPierre, according to emails. In one February 2016 email, Ms. Butina sent an invoice directly to Ms. Hallow for “Hosting of NRA leadership group for six days in Moscow,” according to the document, and thanked her “for your invaluable advice these past few months.”

In a May 26 email that year, Ms. Hallow told other N.R.A. officials that an invoice related to the trip submitted by Mr. Brownell’s company, the firearms retailer Brownells, had been authorized: “Wayne approved these special projects involving Outreach that Brownell has done,” she wrote.

Now it appears that Josh Powell, Chief of Staff to LaPierre, is trying to throw Millie under the bus.

On Thursday, Josh Powell, the N.R.A.’s chief of staff, said in a statement that “in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Brownell, Millie falsely stated that Wayne approved of certain expenses when he had not. In fact, Millie apologized to me (and others) later for the misrepresentation.”

You may remember that in late July I did a blog post regarding Millie Hallow. It detailed how she had been convicted of felony embezzlement while directing the DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities. My impression was that had been kept a closely guarded secret. I had NRA board members tell me they didn’t know Ms. Hallow was a convicted felon until that post was published.

It now appears that someone wants that information in the public domain.

But Ms. Hallow is one of Ms. LaPierre’s closest aides, and raising questions about her credibility comes at an inopportune time. The N.R.A. is relying on her word in its battle with Oliver North, the organization’s former president, who stepped down this year shortly after making a call to Ms. Hallow that N.R.A. officials described as threatening toward Mr. LaPierre. Ms. Hallow also once pleaded guilty to a felony related to the theft of money from an arts agency she ran in Washington. (emphasis mine)

It would be interesting to know which one of Hakim’s sources pointed that out to him. It does serve the purposes of Josh Powell but the question remains whether he is smart enough to made use of it. I don’t see it serving the purpose of Brewer as he needs her to be a credible witness against Ollie North. That is, unless it is more important to protect LaPierre in the Russia investigation than it is to continue the fight against Ollie North. If that is the case then there is a lot more substance to this whole Russia fiasco than we previously thought and it is a lot more dangerous to the personal fortune of LaPierre. Time will tell.

Thanks For The PR, Marion!

There is a concept in public relations called strategic silence. While normally you want to respond to critics, sometimes it is advisable to do nothing. This is especially true when you are a large organization and the critic is small and not well-known. It is counterproductive.

Marion Hammer obviously never learned this.

Yesterday, the Washington Times ran a commentary by Ms. Hammer attacking Save the Second. It also had a condescending attack by her on Alan Gottlieb of SAF and CCRKBA as well as on the late Neal Knox. Her purpose in this op-ed seems to have been to defend Wayne LaPierre as well as position the NRA as the be all and end all of the Second Amendment.

Some attackers, including some of the NRA’s own members, have created an outfit that calls itself “Save the Second.” 


The organization is most definitely not about saving the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 


It is about destroying the National Rifle Association. Save the Second has never done anything to save the Second Amendment. It was created to oust NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and take control of NRA


Save the Second maliciously encourages the harassment of NRA board members who oppose attempts to oust NRA leadership.

There are many in the Second Amendment community who have not heard of Save the Second. They have now.

Save the Second is a 501(c)(3) non-profit established for the sole purpose of reforming the NRA so that it can be a more effective advocate for the Second Amendment and gun rights.

One of the original founders – Anthony Garcia – was one of the organizers of the successful recall effort in Colorado. (Corrected – I had both Ron Carter and Anthony as organizers while it was only Anthony.) The recall was to replace prominent Democrats who passed universal background checks and a magazine ban. Those Democrats had been funded by Michael Bloomberg and the opposition to their recall was funded by his millions as well. Both Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron were recalled and a third Democrat resigned before she could be recalled.

Ms. Hammer continues:

Leaving the NRA in the hands of a bunch of novices who haven’t done 1 percent of what Wayne has helped the NRA accomplish is a pure recipe for disaster.


You may think they’re well-meaning but they likely couldn’t figure out how to run the NRA or a 50-state legislative operation, period.


From all appearances, Save the Second is just an extension of the 22-year-old failed coup attempt against Wayne by led by the late NRA board member Neal Knox, whose son is gun-rights supporter Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition.

Oh, I think they could figure out how to run a 50-state legislative operation. After all, the blueprint for the NRA’s grassroots efforts did come from former BOD members Tim Knight and Sean Maloney who just happened to work with Ron and Anthony in the Colorado recall effort.

As to the “failed coup attempt” of 1997, this is actually a rewriting of history. I have been going back and re-reading Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War. Just as now, there was a call for financial audits as well as a “management audit” ordered by the NRA Board of Directors in 1996. There were serious concerns about a decline in assets and a “failure to manage, poor internal controls, too much reliance on outside vendors, and too many multi-million dollar agreements without written contracts.” (As an aside, I really suggest buying the Kindle version of this book to learn more.)

Then, as now, the chief resistance to financial openness was Wayne LaPierre. Then, as now, his chief backer was Marion Hammer. The two have a long-term symbiotic relationship which seems to have little to do with protecting the Second Amendment and all about protecting their perks.

Ms. Hammer concludes by saying, ” Our country needs the NRA. And Wayne LaPierre is the only person who can lead us through this hate-storm. ”

She is half right. We do need the NRA. However, we need an effective NRA with an effective Board focused on the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, it seems that the most effective people such as Chris Cox, Jennifer Baker, Emily Cummins, and David Lehman are all gone having been forced out due to Wayne’s paranoia fed by William Brewer III and Josh Powell.

Now that you know about Save the Second thanks to Ms. Hammer, they plan to be at the NRA Board of Director’s meeting this Saturday morning. It is being held at the Hilton Washington Dulles. Save the Second will be presenting the member’s petition calling for a vote on mandatory attendance at NRA Board meetings. If you are in the area, I hope you will attend.

Wayne Needs A Better Attorney

The New York Daily News is not a fan of the NRA. They have made that very clear over the years. They make that very clear when they refer to the NRA’s defunct CarryGuard insurance program as “murder insurance”.

The context was that investigators with the New York Department of Financial Services served a subpoena upon NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre. They want to know what Wayne knows or knew about the marketing of CarryGuard. It should come as no surprise that New York officials would want to put Wayne on the record with a sworn deposition.

I can think of a number of reasons that they would do this. They would include harassment, payback for the Federal suit against Gov. Cuomo and former DFS head Maria Vullo, an opportunity to catch Wayne in a lie, and the list goes on.

What struck me about this article was this:

The gun-rights group’s top lawyer said it was “surprised” by the subpoena and noted that LaPierre has “virtually no information” beyond what others have already told investigators.

“The NRA believes the ‘investigation’ was blatantly political in its motivation,” said William A. Brewer III, lead counsel to the NRA, in a statement. “Nonetheless, the NRA has attempted to cooperate with reasonable requests by (New York).”

Any competent attorney should have expected this subpoena. To be surprised by what should have been a foregone conclusion indicates either Brewer is incompetent or that he is trying to create a smokescreen. I know which way I’m leaning but for the moment I’ll reserve judgement.

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from the Firearms and Politics mailing list. C. D. Tavares, a longtime poster on the list, had this to say about Wayne LaPierre and the most recent purges.

When the henhouse needs guarding, should we be amazed to see the wolves throwing their support behind the lamest dog left on the farm?

Our enemies in the gun prohibition industry have seen this and have sent out lots of fundraising emails saying the NRA is in trouble. You just know they are secretly wishing that Wayne will keep holding on to his job until it is pried from his cold dead hands.