NRA Compromises With Washington D.C.?

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

( – On Wednesday, the National Rifle Association (NRA) resolved a long-standing legal battle with the D.C. Attorney General’s Office by agreeing to implement reforms in its charitable division, thereby avoiding a trial. This settlement marks the end of a three-and-a-half-year lawsuit, which alleged that the NRA Foundation had misappropriated over $10 million in tax-deductible donations for political activities by its parent organization. The trial had been scheduled to commence on April 29.

The agreement follows a challenging period for the NRA, which is still reeling from a corruption trial in New York. In that trial, senior executives were found guilty of misusing funds for personal luxuries such as exotic trips, expensive meals, and high-end clothing. The trial concluded with former CEO Wayne LaPierre and former CFO Woody Phillips being ordered to pay $5.4 million and $2 million in damages, respectively.

In the Washington D.C. case, Attorney General Brian Schwalb accused the NRA’s charity arm of betraying the public’s trust by serving as an “unchecked piggy bank” for the NRA, using funds for unauthorized purposes. Despite these serious accusations, the NRA did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.

NRA President Charles Cotton defended the organization, stating that the settlement demonstrated the NRA’s dedication to proper governance and dismissed the lawsuit as a politicized attack. Conversely, NRA counsel William Brewer criticized the Attorney General’s portrayal of the settlement, asserting that the claims of wrongdoing were baseless and that the lawsuit had been effectively nullified by the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the NRA Foundation will undergo annual compliance training, enhance its auditing processes, and develop a conflict-of-interest policy. Additionally, new policies will be established to govern the Foundation’s activities related to grantmaking and loans to ensure greater transparency and independence.

The settlement, which does not involve any financial penalties due to restrictions in District law against punitive damages in nonprofit governance cases, will remain in effect until December 2026.

This legal resolution comes at a time when the NRA faces challenges such as declining membership and substantial legal expenses from ongoing litigation. Membership dropped by approximately half a million between 2021 and 2022, and the organization’s revenue halved compared to six years earlier. These developments underscore ongoing concerns about management and financial practices within the NRA, highlighted in the New York trial where Attorney General Letitia James accused the organization of fostering a culture of mismanagement and self-dealing.

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