Wayne LaPierre is still hanging on as CEO of the National Rifle Association despite reports, first detailed two years ago by the Wall Street Journal, that he wantonly misspent the organization’s money. The Journal, citing internal NRA documents, reported that LaPierre had “billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique and $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe.”
He also ordered the ad agency to pay nearly $14,000 to rent an apartment near the NRA’s headquarters for a 20-year-old summer intern, Megan Allen (seen below, in a photo taken when she was apparently performing non-NRA related duties) with whom, it has been widely suggested, he was having an extramarital affair.
Yesterday, LaPierre was mocked by gun control activists because he admitted in a deposition connected to the Association’s bankruptcy case in Dallas that he’d sought refuge on a yacht — the 108-foot Illusions, owned by Hollywood producer Stanton McKenzie — “after dozens were killed at two mass school shootings,” as reported by The Washington Post. He said the Illusions, which had a “two or three or four staff people” and a cook, two wave runners, a 16-foot jet boat, and a “hydraulic swim platform,” was “the one place” he felt safe.
“Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action, first called attention to LaPierre’s testimony on Twitter on Monday,” the Post reported. “While slamming his testimony, she turned to his oft-cited defense that ‘a good guy with a gun’ is the only way to prevent mass shootings.” Of which Watts commented, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good friend with a yacht?”
Oh, about the bankruptcy case: the expenses noted above were a tiny fraction of troubling financial expenditures that were “draining NRA cash at mindboggling speed,” Oliver North, who was forced out as president of the group after clashing with LaPierre, wrote in a 2019 letter. Meanwhile, New York Assistant Attorney General Monica Connell yesterday told the judge in Dallas that LaPierre had only “put the gun rights group into bankruptcy to avoid facing a financial investigation” by her office.
There’s a curious section of the deposition (on page 77 of the document at the link provided) that hasn’t yet been noted, as far as I can tell. It’s the only section of LaPierre’s deposition — held by video on March 18 but newly released — that’s redacted and it came during a terse exchange between the NRA’s CEO and an attorney grilling him.
The section of the deposition deals with issues involving gross misspending at the NRA under LaPierre. One curious thing is that in the midst of a series of denials — i.e. that he told Oliver North that only Bill Brewer, the NRA’s outside attorney and his close friend, could save him from going to jail — LaPierre spontaneously and without Megan Allen ever being mentioned, refers to her. In dismissing his alleged statement about Brewer, he says, “You can put all that down with the intern story about — that I did not have an affair with either.”
How odd. No one had accused him of having an affair with Brewer or anyone else, as his remark suggests. Why bring Allen up at all, unless he was expecting, perhaps subconsciously, that his alleged affair with her was about to be mentioned in the context of NRA misspending?
So the Allen boom was never lowered, but it does seem like the attorney questioning him was setting a trap. “Mr. LaPierre, have you seen Exhibit 59 before?” he asks.
“I don’t think I have,” LaPierre replies. At which point the redactions hit, so we don’t know what’s in the mysterious Exhibit 59. It appears, though, that LaPierre does not want to discuss the exhibit because after the redacted section, his interrogator complains, “I am not going to let him just filibuster” and his own attorney, Kent Correll responds, “Why don’t we just go off the camera for a moment and let’s talk about this and maybe we should call the judge and ask for guidance.” Almost immediately thereafter come more redactions.
So what’s exactly in Exhibit 59? I’m not sure of all the details but earlier in the deposition it is described as being a 2019 “statement by Emily Cummins,” who according to reporting by ProPublica, the New Yorker and Trace, “worked for 12 years in the NRA’s treasurer’s office” and “quietly resigned in November  as the group’s internal strife escalated.” The story said that in a written statement — apparently Exhibit 59 — Cummins alleged “that Brewer obstructed the work of NRA accountants and vastly exacerbated the organization’s financial woes as he charged it hefty legal fees.” Those fees reportedly averaged $97,000 per day during the first quarter of 2019.
(Other questionable expenditures included at least $180,000 paid over four years to a nonprofit run by Susan LaPierre, Wayne’s wife. She’s also co-chair of the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Forum.)
“I witnessed what appeared to be unrealistic and duplicative billing from Bill Brewer,” Cummins wrote in her statement. “I witnessed that Bill Brewer himself created a 2018 cash flow crunch by interfering with accounts payable to prioritize paying himself immediately versus other NRA vendors that had been providing goods or services for months without payment, also jeopardizing the NRA’s biweekly staff payroll.”
So, does Cummins statement — Exhibit 59 — refer to LaPierre’s relationship with the intern? To be honest, I have no clue. There’s no direct evidence of it based on the ProPublica, New Yorker and Trace reporting, but they didn’t release the full statement and three NRA board members resigned two days after the article was published, saying their confidence in the NRA’s leadership had “been shattered.”
As I noted in the subhead of this story, one can always hope. This is, after all, a tabloid so what I’m really hoping is LaPierre and the intern were on the Illusions together.
That would immediately call to mind this famous image of Gary Hart aboard the Monkey Business with Donna Rice, in a photograph published by the National Enquirer in 1987, thereby dooming the former Colorado senator’s presidential bid and (tragically but sort of comically) leading later to the 1988 nomination of Michael Dukakis as the Democratic Party’s hopelessly inept candidate and subsequent historic drubbing at the hands of George W. Bush, a man so unlikeable that it seemed impossible he could trounce anyone by a 426-111 margin in the Electoral College.
But that’s all just idle speculation. However, certainly it does seem inevitable as the bankruptcy trial proceeds that LaPierre’s extramarital affair with Allen will be detailed, and God willing, very painfully and excruciatingly for the NRA’s CEO. So let’s all keep hope alive in the meanwhile.
Footnote 1: I’m obviously exploiting LaPierre’s alleged affair because it’s simply too titillating and sleazy not to. But I’m not passing judgment on Allen (or Rice or, for that matter the previously unmentioned Monica Lewinsky, all whom were in my view victimized by their respective male “partners,” which is really not the right word here but I can’t think of another one at the moment.
Footnote 2: Speaking of the sincerely great Monica Lewinsky (and of exploiting sex for clicks), this week has possibly brought her some good news. Thanks to former NBA star Paul Pierce, there is another Monica who should make us all forever forget Lewinsky when her first name is mentioned. If you haven’t been following that very funny tale, take some time out and enjoy this story.
Footnote 3: When I started writing this story, I genuinely thought that Allen was definitely part of Exhibit 59. I only discovered that she probably wasn’t after hours of reporting and writing, and I simply wasn’t going to waste all that time by killing my own story.