The testimony regarding the suits is a confirmation of at least some of the reports on LaPierre spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Italian clothes and lavish travel. According to Law & Crime:
LaPierre testified on Wednesday that he also took a couple of trips on another yacht called the Grand Illusions, and he acknowledged that McKenzie picked up the tab on his stay at an Atlantis resort. Before the COVID-19 era, LaPierre testified, he flew out to Los Angeles to meet up with McKenzie at Beverly Hills and staying at a hotel there paid for by the producer. The NRA’s ex-longtime PR firm Ackerman McQueen picked up the tab on nearly $300,000 for LaPierre’s Italian suits at Zegna in Beverly Hills, which LaPierre defended as an expenditure the firm recommended for his television appearances.
The ever-cagey LaPierre also admitted to never using email or texts in his personal or professional life. No electronic trail, baby! Not a bad policy for these guys, it seems. LaPierre’s testimony comes in tandem with a petition from the New York attorney general’s office—joined by former NRA partner Ackerman McQueen—to dismiss the bankruptcy filing as a bad faith move. New York’s petition is supported by LaPierre’s own words when he disclosed the filing to NRA members with an announcement that “We are DUMPING [sic] New York, and we are pursuing plans to reincorporate the NRA in Texas.”
The New York Times also reported on Wednesday that LaPierre testified he kept the bankruptcy move a secret “from almost all its senior officials, including its general counsel, chief financial officer and top lobbyist.” It’s a desperate move by the embattled LaPierre, but the corruption in the NRA ranks and general mismanagement of funds is hard to argue with. LaPierre seems to be hoping that he and his allies in the organization will be be able to retain control and not lose their position atop the Second Amendment gravy train by arguing that they have been reforming bad business practices and lax oversight. Of course, there’s always reality to contend with.
But those moments undercut claims of reform. Among the issues that have come up in the proceedings is that Mr. LaPierre’s longtime assistant, Millie Hallow, was kept on even after she diverted $40,000 from the N.R.A. for her personal use, including to help pay for her son’s wedding. (Before she was hired by the N.R.A., Ms. Hallow pleaded guilty to a felony related to the theft of money from an arts agency she ran.)
Crime & Law’s Adam Klasfeld reports that LaPierre has been combative during Thursday’s testimony, admitting to flying “exclusively by private charter for several years”; that he’s flown family members around at the NRA’s expense; and that he didn’t know whether or not the NRA paid for tens of thousands of dollars in hair stylists for his wife, Susan LaPierre. (They did spend that money, previously arguing it was in service of public appearances for the organization.)
As The Washington Post reported in late March, gun violence and mass shootings have not abated during the pandemic. In fact, they have increased as more and more guns were purchased in 2020, with less and less regulation on ownership. Just because schools were closed down and we didn’t have the very obvious markers of shootings that made national news doesn’t mean that they ended. And to be clear, the increases in gun deaths and injuries rose because of suicides and people shooting others.
To circle back to the yearly yacht jaunts the LaPierre family reportedly took: According to LaPierre himself, these respites went on from 2012 until 2019. LaPierre testified that they were a security measure, as the threats he received after highly publicized mass shootings were “presidential”-level stuff. I like to take annual respites with my family as well. On the minus side, I don’t get free use of a 108-foot yacht with two to four private staff members, a cook, wave runners, a speed boat, and a pool. On the plus side, I don’t have the deaths and murders of thousands of children on my conscience.