According to a new report by The Guardian, the NRA “faces a deepening financial crisis with over 200 staff layoffs and furloughs in 2020.” The story adds that “the situation is likely to hinder efforts by the [NRA] to help Trump and republicans win in November’s election”––a devastating blow to the organization that was the single largest outside spender in President Trump’s 2016 election.
The Guardian report, written by Peter Stone, tells the full story:
- The real reason for the NRA’s struggles: NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has consistently argued that the NRA’s struggles are a result of COVID-19, but the Guardian reports that the 200-plus layoffs and furloughs “were spurred by declines in revenues and fundraising, heavy legal spending, political infighting, and charges of insider self-dealing under scrutiny by attorneys general in New York and Washington DC.”
- NRA official “deeply concern[ed]”: An anonymous NRA official went so far as to say that “layoffs and furloughs have further harmed both the NRA’s legal capacity and political influence beyond what was already a troubling deterioration.” The official added that the outlook for political spending on the coming election is “deeply concerning.”
- Impact on the 2020 elections: According to “gun analysts” interviewed by The Guardian, the NRA’s woes “are expected to sharply reduce spending this year compared with the $30m the group spent on ads to help Trump win in 2016. They are also likely to mean cuts to its once formidable get out the vote operations in key states that historically provide big boosts to GOP candidates.”
This report comes at a time when the NRA is “basically on life support,” with the Trump administration reportedly “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups” and the organization mired in financial, legal, and internal turmoil.
- Financial: In April, NPR uncovered a recording of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre saying that the NRA took “about a $100 million hit” in 2018 and 2019, and that for the NRA “to survive,” he took “about $80 million” out of the budget and “took it down to the studs.” This follows years of alleged financial mismanagement, during which NRA executive pay has skyrocketed, money has flowed to “unpaid” board members, and the NRA’s own board members and accountants have called into question lavish, legally suspect personal spending by its leadership––including reportedly millions of dollars’ worth of Italian suits and private jet trips for CEO Wayne LaPierre. Meanwhile, the NRA has run a deficit for three years in a row.
- Legal: The NRA was recently hit with a class action lawsuit, and it was already facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, under investigation by the U.S. Senate and attorneys general in New York and DC, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen. The Guardian notes that if the New York Attorney General brings charges, “NRA could lose its coveted non-profit status in New York.”
- Internal: According to The Guardian, the NRA’s “drop in revenues accelerated in 2019 when several large NRA donors began a drive to oust LaPierre over allegations of mismanagement and self-dealing, and to promote reforms.” These donors have boasted that “$165 million in donations and planned gifts had been withheld.”