It’s no secret the National Rifle Association’s finances are in a bit of a mess right now. And they could get a lot messier if one card-carrying member has his way.
Earlier this week, NRA member David Dell'Aquila sued the gun-rights group, a related foundation and NRA head Wayne LaPierre for fraud, contending the organization misstated in solicitation materials how it intended to spend money from fund-raising efforts.
In his suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Tennessee, Dell’Aquila said he is a longtime donor and supporter of the NRA. Over the last four years, Dell'Aquila has given approximately $100,000 to the organization in the form of cash donations and gifts in kind -- donations made to both the NRA and the NRA Foundation.
And, until recently, he said, he had pledged to give 75% of his estate to the NRA and its subsidiaries, upon his death.
Now, he wants it all back. And he’s seeking class-action status so that other NRA members who feel they, too, have been hoodwinked will get their donations back as well.
In solicitations, “Defendants alleged that the donations would be used for gun safety education; to promote shooting sports and hunter safety; to foster wildlife conservation; and to protect gun ownership rights in the United States (collectively, the 'NBA's core mission'),” Dell’Aquila stated.
Earlier this year, the plaintiff notes, reports indicated that “LaPierre had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing, private jet travel, and other personal benefits that were paid for by an NRA vendor. These reimbursements were not included as part of LaPierre's compensation on IRS Form 990, filed by the NRA.”
That vendor is believed to be the NRA’s former ad agency Ackerman McQueen, whose relationship imploded earlier this year amid suits and countersuits involving breach of contract, libel and other allegations.
Dell’Aquila contends the NRA made “inflated payments to the NRA's advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen, without obtaining documentation justifying such expense.”
A number of earlier news stories reported an alleged spending spree by LaPierre, who is said to have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing purchases at a chichi Beverly Hills clothing boutique that were expensed to the agency.
The upshot is that Dell’Aquila wants his money back, plus interest, as well as punitive damages, costs and attorney fees. And he wants the same payout for a class of NRA donors who were also allegedly duped.