Weep, Weep For Sad And Friendless Wayne LaPierre, He's Having A Real Hard Time
Poor, poor Wayne LaPierre! The NRA CEO recently sat down with New York Times reporter Danny Hakim to talk about how depressed he is from all the legal battles engulfing his death-stick lobby group for the past two years.
"It was horribly painful. I mean, it's the most painful period of my life."
Probably not as painful as getting shot or losing your child in a school shooting because the NRA blocked an assault weapons ban. But, you know, really painful! And it's not as if Wayne LaPierre isn't touched by the scourge of gun violence. Having to go out and defend his organization when all these people are saying "Hey, how come it's more important for you assholes to carry a murder weapon around all day than for my kid to stay alive?" takes a lot out of a man.
"All these horrible tragedies — after every one, Wayne would be the guy going out there in the media," he said, referring to himself in the third person. "From Columbine to — you name it — to the Navy Yard to Aurora to Sandy Hook. Every one of them, I was the guy — Parkland — I was the guy out there in the media." The N.R.A. was "so miscast by the media," he insisted, he saw little reason to engage reporters. "You just didn't get a fair shot anymore."
Say what you will about Ackerman McQueen (AMc), the parasitic infection cum advertising company which handled the NRA's media appearances for the past 20 years, but at least those moochers stopped Wayne from giving interviews like this one.
Two years ago, the NRA realized that the state of New York was about to come in and audit their books for "related party transactions" where the organization paid out money to its own board members, of which there were many. Trying to get its hands around the problem, the NRA asked for an accounting from AMc of the $40 million paid to it annually, lighting the match on the dumpster fire which now threatens to engulf both organizations. Sad!
Also sad is the sheer quantity of NRA decisions over which LaPierre, the CEO, has zero control. From a mailer calling ATF agents "jackbooted government thugs" -- "I remember calling down, going, 'We couldn't possibly have a letter out there saying that A.T.F. were a bunch of jackbooted thugs, could we?'" -- to Maria Butina's happy Russia funtimes NRA field trip to Moscow -- "My attitude was, stay away from her" -- poor Wayne is just out of the loop!
How was Wayne to know that he was routing all his clothing and travel expenses through AMc by handing the cashiers the AMc credit card? Who among us hasn't slid the wrong card into the machine at Trader Joe's once in a while for 15 years in a row?
LaPierre also billed more than $250,000 in travel through Ackerman for trips to, among other places, the Bahamas, Palm Beach, Reno and Italy's Lake Como. During a 2014 European trip to film at the Italian gun maker Beretta, he took a side trip to a Four Seasons in Budapest. Was it for N.R.A. business? He met with officials at "the firearms museum there," he said, and "talked about a trade of whatever," without offering more detail. Nonetheless, he said he had only used Ackerman McQueen's credit card because his own cards had been hacked.
LaPierre also claims ignorance of Oliver North's $2 million contract with AMc that made it worth his while to quit his job as a political commentator and take over as NRA president in 2018. AMc produced NRATV (RIP, shawty!) in-house and charged the NRA $20 million for it. AMc's refusal to divulge the details of the contract led to the first lawsuit, although North has maintained that LaPierre himself negotiated the deal.
"I didn't negotiate the contract, in fact, I wasn't in the meeting," LaPierre told Hakim in response to North's allegations, although he admitted that he "had a basic understanding of some of the points."
Whoever negotiated the deal, it set off alarm bells inside the NRA, which was already under the microscope for related party transactions, with one employee warning LaPierre in an email that "using a vendor to provide compensation to an N.R.A. officer, director or high-level employee does not work to hide disclosure of the compensation." But no one ever accused Wayne LaPierre of being good at HR. In 2017, he'd hired pugilistic Democratic lawyer William Brewer III to help the organization with its New York troubles. After being assured (probably incorrectly) that he personally faced no criminal liability for the NRA's past bookkeeping irregularities, LaPierre greenlighted Brewer's plan to launch the organization-wide audit that provoked the war with AMc.
"This is a debacle," one NRA lawyer emailed another. "Is Brewer a moron or a Manchurian candidate?" After Brewer filed the first NRA suit against AMc in April 2018, the lawyer wrote, "Brewer just picked a fight with the folks with all the dirt on expenses for the last 30 years."
As Brewer's fees began to pile up, totaling $19 million in the year beginning in March of 2018, board members and staff began to revolt, with North -- who was being paid by AMc, and was thus susceptible to the very conflicts the "related party" disclosure is supposed to prevent -- leading the charge.
"He just wouldn't back off," LaPierre said. "I mean, it was literally, weekly, weekly, weekly, like this, waterboarding of me." He said North would implore him to "fire the Brewer firm, fire the Brewer firm," and he would reply: "I'm not going to fire the Brewer firm. They're doing a good job." North would say, "Well, their bills are outrageous," LaPierre recalled, and he would reply: "I don't think their bills are outrageous. They've got a massive scope of work." The whole process was wearing him down, he said. "It was just this never-ending waterboarding."
For his part, North defended his "waterboarding" of LaPierre, saying on a recent radio show, "If you're not going to do things right, don't hire a Marine." Which had the unintended effect of paralyzing a just deity, who was unable to decide which of these brazen sinners to strike with lightning first. Probably.
The litigation sent the rats scurrying. The Daily Beast reports that Grant Stinchfield, who was actually an NRATV "personality" not a generic, unfiltered cigarette (go figure!), testified recently that he always opposed the pivot to video, and accused AMc of trying to "build a live TV platform on the backs of NRA members."
"The NRA is not your boss—I am," Stinchfield quoted AMc head Angus McQueen telling him. In point of fact, McQueen, who signed Stinchfield's paychecks, was Stinchfield's boss. But, go off, dude!
Speaking of going off, check out this Grade A snark from one of AMc's latest legal briefs:
LaPierre, a one-time Democratic legislative aide, began his NRA career in 1977 as a lobbyist. Described in news reports as "reserved" and "awkward," he was seemingly ill-suited to head what many describe as a strident advocacy group. Aside from his mild personality, AMc personnel found him to be uncomfortable with AMc-developed branding programs such as "NRA Life of Duty," a program created to tell stories about American military and law enforcement professionals who defend the United States domestically and abroad. LaPierre often exhibited defensiveness, possibly stemming from his lack of military service and multiple deferments obtained during the Vietnam conflict. Even today, LaPierre knows little about guns or how to actually use them.
MEEEEOWWWW. You could almost feel sorry for the guy. But not quite! Luckily, Wayne LaPierre feels plenty sorry for himself already.
"If I lose every friend," he told Hakim, "I'm prepared to do it."
LetThemFight Dot Gif FOREVER.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.