The head of the National Rifle Association attempted to have the group purchase him a $6 million French chateau-style mansion in Texas, justifying it as a security measure after the Parkland shooting, according to the Washington Post.
According to the Post, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the nonprofit, indicated in emails with an ad agency that he was involved in the real estate search and that he rejected a Dallas high-rise with security measures in favor of the mansion, which was in a gated community and would give him access to a country club.
The NRA did not follow through with the plan, but the organization did write a $70,000 check to a corporate entity created for the purchase, the Post reported. The money was later returned, but the New York attorney general’s office obtained some of the NRA’s financial records, including those dealing with the check, as part of its investigation into the organization’s nonprofit status, which could be imperiled by improper expenditures meant to benefit its leadership rather than advance its mission.
According to the Post, which also talked to people with knowledge of the discussions between the NRA and its former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, LaPierre told the NRA that he needed to live in a more secure place after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. The house they landed on was a 10,000-square-foot estate with its own courtyard and a marble fireplace. LaPierre and his wife toured the property, and they later negotiated furnishings, asked to keep the previous owner’s golf cart, and even complained in an email about the size of one of the closets. LaPierre also tried to get the NRA to purchase two cars for him, according to the Post.
The NRA and Ackerman McQueen blamed one another for the attempted purchase. According to Ackerman McQueen, which had a public falling out with the nonprofit, LaPierre sought out the ad agency for help. The agency said it later became worried about LaPierre’s motivations and that the deal led to the agency’s “loss of faith in Mr. LaPierre’s decision-making.”
The NRA and many of its board members contended instead that Ackerman McQueen had itself suggested the purchase as a real estate investment and that the NRA was the party that ultimately shot it down. “The deal was vetoed by the NRA after its full terms—including Ackerman’s intent to spend NRA money—became known to Wayne LaPierre,” an NRA spokesman said. The group accused the ad agency of conducting a “smear campaign.”
The New York attorney general’s office is looking into the mansion deal, along with other potential financial mismanagement by the NRA. Under the state’s laws, any expenses would need to be justified as contributing to the group’s overall mission. Leaked documents published by the Wall Street Journal appeared to show that that hundreds of thousands of NRA money had been used for luxury clothing and travel for LaPierre, along with other various questionable expenses, including a summer intern’s rent. Oliver North, the group’s ousted president, also alleged the NRA was spending nearly $100,000 a day on legal bills. And the Post reported in June that a quarter of NRA’s 76-member board had received some form of payment from the group in recent years.