LaPierre’s pay increase comes at a time when the gun group has been under pressure to explain large payments to top executives, even as it has cut spending on firearms training and political activities and frozen pension benefits for employees.
Revelations that LaPierre spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxury menswear and travel, and that the NRA considered buying him a multimillion-dollar estate, has led to months of internal warfare. NRA officials have staunchly defended their stewardship of NRA funds as the Democratic attorneys general of Washington and New York investigate the tax-exempt group’s spending.
“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.”
Oliver North, who was ousted as NRA president in April after accusing LaPierre of overspending on legal fees, received $1.38 million from the group’s former public relations agency, Ackerman McQueen, according to the tax filings. That payment is just one part of a sprawling and bitter legal battle between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen, which was paid $38.3 million in 2018, more than any other independent contractor.
The NRA also reported paying $13.8 million in 2018 to the law firm of William Brewer III, who has become one of LaPierre’s most trusted advisers. North had claimed that Brewer had received millions more over a longer period that ended in April 2019, when the NRA broke with North and Ackerman McQueen.
NRA officials said in a statement that Brewer’s firm represents the organization on a variety of matters and that the relationship has been carefully reviewed.
North’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year, LaPierre and his wife, Susan, were interested in a 10,000-square-foot estate with lakefront and golf course views in Westlake, Tex., on the market for about $6 million, according to emails and text messages previously described to The Post. According to the tax filings, a company called WBB Investments was “formed in connection with a possible transaction that was never ultimately executed.”
The company was linked to the aborted real estate deal, according to two people with knowledge of the proposed transaction who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it.
The Post has reported that 18 members of the unpaid, 76-member NRA board have collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Post.
The new tax filing shows that the NRA paid another former board member, actor Tom Selleck, $476,000 last year for “collectible firearms.” Selleck’s attorney told the Wall Street Journal, which reported the payment several days ago, that the arrangement was approved by the board and that the actor made little or no profit from it.
Crow Shooting Supply, a firearms business controlled by past NRA president Pete Brownell, received $3.2 million from the NRA Foundation, the group’s charitable arm. NRA officials and Brownell have said the group began purchasing supplies from Crow before Brownell took over the company in 2011. Brownell is among more than a half-dozen NRA board members who have stepped down since May.
The NRA ended the year with a $2.7 million shortfall in 2018, compared with a $17.8 million shortfall the previous year and an even bigger hole of $45.8 million in 2016.
“The NRA’s financials are strong and trending in the right direction,” said Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman.
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.
Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.