“The NRA is transparent in its finances and in its reporting of the required Form 990,” NRA President Allan Cors said in a statement. “This is an employee funded deferred compensation plan and the $3.7 million distribution to Wayne LaPierre was required by federal law and properly reported.”
According to the tax filing, the NRA recorded a bump in total revenue in 2015 but a dip in contributions. The NRA brought in more than $336 million in total gross revenue in 2015, an increase of about $26 million from the year before. According to the filing, contributions to the NRA dropped to just under $95 million in 2015, down from $103 million in 2014.
Marc Fosse, a shareholder and partner at Trucker Huss, a San Francisco law firm, said that 457(f) retirement plans such as LaPierre’s are “fairly typical” and that companies sometimes offer them to select members of management or highly compensated employees. As soon as the account vests, it is subject to taxes, he said, and contributions can be unlimited.
“It probably had a vesting age, a normal retirement age, a normal retirement date in it, and that date hit and he had to take the benefits,” Fosse said.
LaPierre also received a raise in his annual salary, taking in $1,090,515 in base compensation in 2015, as well as a $150,000 bonus. LaPierre also reported retirement and deferred-compensation income, as well as nontaxable benefits. LaPierre also has a 457(b) retirement plan, which Fosse said is a common limited retirement contribution plan.
Cors said that LaPierre’s retirement compensation came after 36 years of employment with the NRA.
“This is extraordinarily well-deserved compensation for Wayne’s almost four decades of service in protection of our American freedom,” Cors said, “and it represents tremendous value for NRA members and our nation’s gun owners.”
During the past few years, compensation for LaPierre, an outspoken critic of gun control who has become the face of the organization, has remained relatively steady.
According to Form 990s the NRA filed with the Internal Revenue Service, LaPierre made $984,182 from the NRA and other related organizations in 2013 and he earned $984,867 in 2012.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control organization, said the retirement payout was extreme.
“Responsible gun owners and dues-paying NRA members — the vast majority of whom support common-sense policies to keep guns out of the wrong hands — should ask themselves if this is really how they want their hard-earned money spent,” said Erika Soto Lamb, chief communications officer for Everytown.
LaPierre has served as an executive vice president of the NRA since 1991. He has helped turn the organization into a juggernaut devoted solely to defending the right to bear arms. It has become a massive lobbying organization that has millions of supporters.
Earlier this month, LaPierre sat next to President Trump during a strategy meeting to push for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The NRA endorsed Trump in May 2016. In a video titled “NRA: Donald Trump’s Strongest Ally,” LaPierre called Trump “the most openly pro-Second Amendment candidate in history” and said that Trump’s presidency would be a chance to ensure law and order nationwide.
“This is our historic moment to go on offense and restore American greatness,” LaPierre said, hailing the opportunity to put a pro-Second Amendment justice on the Supreme Court.
Trump has called for making concealed-carry permits applicable nationwide and has criticized gun-free zones. Last year, Trump called for the elimination of gun-free school zones but later backed away, telling CNN in May that only school resource officers or trained teachers should carry guns.
Corrections: An earlier version of this post listed Allan Cors’s job title incorrectly. He is NRA president. Also, Marc Fosse’s name was initially misspelled.