A top NRA executive, then-Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Wilson H. Phillips Jr., signed a document in May 2018 promising the gun lobby would contribute $6.5 million for 99% ownership of a company formed to buy a Dallas mansion for LaPierre, according to a copy of the document reviewed by the Journal. The NRA and its then-outside advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, told the Journal that the planning to buy the home started in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, when LaPierre had concerns about his safety. The deal ultimately fell through.
The report comes as the NRA faces intense scrutiny of its finances, internal turmoil and leadership changes. New York Attorney General Letitia James in April launched an inquiry into the organization, which is chartered in New York. A gun-control group has also filed a complaint with the IRS, challenging the NRA’s tax-exempt status.
Earlier this year, the NRA ousted its president, Oliver North, following a dispute with LaPierre in which North accused him of financial misconduct, according to the Journal.
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told the Journal: “As we have said repeatedly, neither Mr. LaPierre nor the Board ever formally considered, much less approved, an investment in the house in question or the other properties shown by Ackerman McQueen’s real estate agent.”
The NRA earlier this year ended its contract with Ackerman McQueen, and the gun lobby has filed lawsuits against its longtime advertising firm accusing it of breach of contract and claims the firm tried to engineer a failed coup against LaPierre. LaPierre had billed Ackerman McQueen for more than $540,000 in clothing and travel expenses, according to the Journal.
Ackerman McQueen recently turned over information about the deal related to the house purchase to the New York Attorney General’s Office, a person familiar with the matter previously told the Journal.
LaPierre and his wife, Susan, reportedly toured the house – a 10,000-square-foot mansion in a gated golf community near Dallas – two times. Ackerman McQueen agreed at the time to help facilitate the transaction and manage the property after closing, the Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.