Picture Painted of the NRA by the Prosecution in New York is Not a Pretty One

Wilson "Woody" Phillips
Wilson “Woody” Phillips (YouTube)


According to Wednesday’s continuing testimony by former NRA CEO Wilson “Woody” Phillips there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the NRA’s attempt to buy a $6.8 million dollar Texas mansion for Wayne LaPierre, the longtime, but soon-to-be-retired head of the organization.

Safety, it seems, was always a “top priority” for LaPierre.

Reason enough, Phillips said, for LaPierre to travel private via charter jets rather than commercial airliners. A natural extension of that “top priority” in 2018, following a “number of threats on Wayne LaPierre’s life” was the NRA plunking down an initial payment of $70,000 on a 10,000 square foot home for the LaPierres in the exclusive Dallas suburb of Westlake.

The home, Phillips explained, would be LaPierre’s “safe place.”

Phillips’ testimony is likely eye-opening for the jurors, but to NRA observers, disgruntled former board members, concerned members, and former industry supporters who have been withholding contributions to the organization until it rectified its “issues,”  it’s just another act that was vehemently denied at the time by LaPierre, Phillips and “Wayne’s board members.”

Expenditures at the not-for-profit were not to be questioned if they were made by LaPierre or to his “chosen” vendors.

In 2018, one of those “chosen” was Ackerman McQueen. In fact, Phillips testified the whole idea to purchase the mansion originated from Ackerman. The agency and Phillips established WBB Investments, LLC to help LaPierre quietly finance the house. The NRA’s initial payment of $70,000 was, Phillips explained, to “keep the purchase potentially in place” while the NRA looked for “a donor or something” to provide the rest of the purchase price.

The deal eventually fell through, and the payment was apparently returned to the NRA.

Following Phillips’ testimony, Sonya Rowling, the NRA’s current finance chief (and former whistleblower) testified the furor over the home purchase caused her to consider quitting. In 2021, she was promoted to acting CFO. Her salary, she testified, more than doubled, so she decided to stick around. She testified to the existence of the “untouchable” vendors, even to the point of a text message where she wrote: “Everyone knows where the spending problem is. But that is untouchable and real reason behind the need for control.”

From 2017 through 2018, the NRA paid Ackerman McQueen a total of $52.2 million dollars for “public relations and advertising services” according to the New York complaint against the NRA. That relationship soured in 2019, concluding in a protracted legal battle. The NRA wound up paying another $12 million in a settlement.

Today, Ackerman is cooperating with the Attorney General’s office in the case against the NRA. As the trial continues, our contacts in the Attorney General’s office promise “even more details of fraud and abuse” by LaPierre and other “highly placed individuals in the administration board of directors, the very people who were charged with making certain these types of abuses don’t happen.”

Not a good look at this point. And the full picture’s far from being completely painted.


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