The National Rifle Association reportedly ended 2018 about $10.8 million in the red as the organization’s spending has come under legal scrutiny and sparked internal turmoil.
The Washington Post reported late Friday that documents showed the company had taken measures to cut its spending last year as it continued to lose money. The NRA took out a $28 million line of credit, and scaled back its services for members and employees, including cancelling some gun-training sessions and freezing its staff pension plan.
The company’s electoral spending also decreased dramatically from past elections. According to the Post, which obtained an audit of the company that included its nonprofit arm, its political action committee, and several affiliated foundations, the company spent more money on expenses classified as travel and entertainment than it did on the 2018 midterm elections.
The NRA told the Post that it was making “financial and administrative decisions that work in the best interests of its members,” and said President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 was a sign of the organization’s strength.
Over the past year, the nation’s most high-profile gun advocacy group has been rocked by internal and external tumult related to its finances and spending.
Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office had opened an investigation into the organization’s tax exempt status after various groups complained that the company’s leaders were making millions of dollars off the organization, which is a nonprofit.
The company is also involved in a pitched, messy public legal battle between its longtime advertising firm and various company leaders.
Earlier this year, the organization ousted NRA president Oliver North and suspended the company’s longtime lawyer. Company CEO Wayne LaPierre wrote a letter to the company’s board claiming North was trying to blackmail him, and an advertising company that has partnered with the NRA for years is suing North for allegedly taking a salary from the NRA and the advertising firm.
The NRA has also filed multiple lawsuits against the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, seeking internal documents and claiming that the organization has been leaking information meant to damage the NRA. The firm, which runs the controversial pro-gun streaming video channel NRATV, has countersued, saying the NRA misled reporters to make Ackerman McQueen look bad and is trying to get out of fulfilling its contract with the firm.
The Daily Beast reported earlier this year that the NRA subpoenaed North and several other NRA board members, seeking documents about their communications with Ackerman McQueen and conversations about LaPierre.
North has fired back, saying the company’s finances were mismanaged, and singling out LaPierre. The Washington Post pointed out that LaPierre charged the organization $275,000 at a Beverly Hills men’s store, and racked up $253,000 luxury travel costs.
North warned the board that the company could lose its nonprofit status.
“I did this because I am deeply concerned that these allegations could threaten our nonprofit status,” North wrote, according to a memo reviewed by The Daily Beast.