At trial, NRA leader LaPierre acknowledges he wrongly expensed private flights, handbag for wife

Jan 29, 2024, 4:33 PM

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: Former NRA Leader Wayne LaPierre arrives for his  civil trial at N...

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: Former NRA Leader Wayne LaPierre arrives for his civil trial at New York State Supreme Court on January 08, 2024 in New York City. LaPierre, former NRA treasurer and chief financial officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, and NRA corporate secretary and general counsel John Frazer are being sued by Attorney General Letitia James alleging that they violated nonprofit laws and misused millions of dollars of NRA funds to finance lavish lifestyles for themselves. LaPierre resigned as executive vice president and chief executive officer from the organization last week and co-defendant former chief of staff and executive director of general operations Joshua Powell settled the case against him last week as well. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre acknowledged at a civil trial Monday that he wrongly expensed private flights for his family and accepted vacations from vendors doing business with the nonprofit gun rights organization without disclosing them.

It was LaPierre’s second day of testimony before a Manhattan jury that will decide if the outgoing NRA chief executive violated rules governing charities and nonprofits over allegations he treated himself to millions of dollars in extravagant perks at the expense of the powerful advocacy group.

The New York attorney general sued the 74-year-old CEO and three co-defendants in 2020, claiming widespread misspending and self-enrichment among certain NRA leaders.

Over the past week, lawyers for the state showed the jury receipts documenting expenses including a $1,000-plus handbag that LaPierre bought for his wife with the NRA’s money, and more than $500,000 in private jet flights, including some in which LaPierre wasn’t even a passenger and was merely flying family members back from overseas vacations.

“I now know there was a limit of $25,” for NRA-sponsored gifts, LaPierre said.

Ahead of trial, LaPierre said he would be resigning as head of the NRA after a decadeslong run that saw him lead it from being a charity and safety organization to a political juggernaut that influenced federal law and presidential elections. His last day is Wednesday.

Wayne LaPierre resigns as leader of the NRA days ahead of civil trial

On Monday, he said on the witness stand that he was leaving the organization “on good terms.”

During recent trial proceedings, LaPierre told the court he hadn’t realized the travel tickets, hotel stays, meals, and yacht access counted as gifts.

He acknowledged receiving $274,000 in tailored suits over the years from a media contractor working with the NRA. He said the suits were needed for TV interviews, and that producers insisted he update his wardrobe.

“They were literally costumes,” he said. “They weren’t gifts; they were work items for me.”

LaPierre also acknowledged authorizing private helicopter flights for NRA executives to and from the Texas Motor Speedway during NASCAR events. While the immediate purpose was to avoid getting stuck in traffic, the flights were also part of a larger effort to ingratiate the NRA with country music stars and mainstream groups including the NFL — as criticism of the organization increased in the wake of mass shootings.

“I tried to build a relationship with all these cultural institutions,” LaPierre said, to push against a narrative that the NRA was “some right-wing organization.”

On Monday, LaPierre claimed that he had reimbursed the NRA for inappropriate gifts and other expenses.

“I wanted to pay it back, with interest,” LaPierre said, recounting an internal audit he supported at the NRA after various misspending issues came to light.

While acknowledging that some of the private air travel was wrong to accept, he claims the bulk of it was done to satisfy his head of security, who said flying commercial was no longer safe for him after 2013. At the time, he was arguing against gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people.

It’s unclear which types of inappropriate spending LaPierre is claiming to have refunded because those payments are not included in court documents. Lawyers for the attorney general’s office will be allowed to question him on the repayments in court this week.

The attorney general’s office is calling for restitution and financial penalties for NRA officials who improperly profited from the organization’s activities.

LaPierre, 74, has led the NRA ’s day-to-day operations since 1991, acting as the face and vehement voice of its gun-rights agenda and becoming one of the most influential figures in shaping U.S. gun policy. Andrew Arulanandam, a top NRA lieutenant who has served as LaPierre’s spokesperson, will assume his roles on an interim basis, the organization said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Courts & Legal

Fatal crash scene...

Collin Leonard,

Driver in fatal Mother’s Day car crash pleads guilty to felony charges

A woman has pleaded guilty to causing a head-on collision that killed one woman and injured five others, including her own 2-year-old daughter, on Mother's Day last year.

1 day ago

man holds gun...

Shelby Lofton

Expert breaks down how far someone can legally go to protect their Utah property

A tense interaction between a snowboarder and a Brighton man has started conversation on Utah's trespassing laws, and now an expert is weighing in.

2 days ago

Judge in robes sits in courtroom...

Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera, KSL TV

Judge rules public gets to see Utah attorney general’s work calendar

A judge sided with KSL, finding the Utah Attorney General’s work calendar is a record the public has a right to see.

2 days ago

Jam-Master Jay...

Eric Levenson and Jeff Winter, CNN

2 men found guilty of murder in 2002 killing of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay

Two men were found guilty of murder Tuesday in the 2002 killing of Jam Master Jay, the pioneering DJ of the groundbreaking hip hop trio Run-DMC, in a case that for decades frustrated detectives and music fans alike.

2 days ago

FILE - A young golden eagle is released above Rogers Pass by a wildlife biologist on Oct. 6, 2005, ...

Matthew Brown, The Associated Press

Man to plead guilty to helping kill 3,600 eagles, other birds and selling feathers prized by tribes

A Washington state man accused of helping kill more than 3,000 birds — including eagles on a Montana Indian reservation — then illegally selling their feathers intends to plead guilty to illegal wildlife trafficking and other criminal charges, court documents show.

2 days ago

A North Salt Lake woman agues before she is arrest in December of 2020. She has filed a federal law...

Collin Leonard,

Bountiful officer in $1M lawsuit was reprimanded for punching woman, 64, in the face

Bountiful police determined a corporal used excessive force when he punched a 64-year-old woman in the face and broke her jaw in December 2020. She has filed a federal lawsuit.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

At trial, NRA leader LaPierre acknowledges he wrongly expensed private flights, handbag for wife