Michael Conroy / AP
A series of internal National Rifle Association documents leaked online over the weekend included detailed information on six-figure clothing and travel expenses for CEO Wayne LaPierre.
The announcement prompted board member Allen West to speak up. On Tuesday he announced that he had previously demanded the resignation of LaPierre and argued that "it is essential that the NRA cleans their own house." A second NRA board member followed his example on his Facebook page and wrote, "It's time for new management."
These developments were combined with a cascade of stories about other incidents of out-of-control spending by the weapons rights organization, especially with former simple NRA employees.
They reported to the NPR on low wages, pension problems and a culture of anxiety within the organization that treated ordinary staff quite differently than its leadership.
Particularly annoying was the detection of these enormous costs, despite the fact that it was confirmed in documents received from NPR: that the company has underfunded pensions that affect hundreds of former and current employees – even as LaPierre 2017 $ 1.4 million Dollar earned according to the latest financial information of the group.
"Relative to other nonprofit organizations" He's being paid more than anyone else in the field, "said Daniel Borochoff, president of Charity Watch, a nonprofit watchdog." Do you need to pay him to work well? Or are there other executives who could hire them to do the job at a lower cost? That's what nonprofit organizations need to defend. "
Out of more than 600 charity watch organizations, LaPierre is the eighth highest paid nonprofit leader If you exclude hospitals or health professionals, he is the second-highest compensated, Borochoff said.
This level of compensation was determined by former NRA staff members who are now publicly speaking.
"I can not think of any other a nonprofit organization that reimburses its executive vice president for the type of salary and benefits that Mr. LaPierre receives in proportion to the salary of his employees, "former 13-year-old NRA employee Andy Lander wrote in an open letter written in the entire arms community. [1 9659008] Lander added, "I also can not understand how a person like Mr. LaPierre treats the people who work for him like his own personally insured servant, if you do not know the secret handshake, then you'll be very good Compensate, as long as you do it blindly and do not resist the people who run the organization.
The National Rifle Association did not respond to multiple requests for comments on this story, but LaPierre receives significant support from its board.
"Wayne has devoted his entire life to defending our freedom. And as chairman of the association, Wayne has led the NRA through the most incredible, highly competitive victories, "said board member Carolyn Meadows during the NRB's annual meeting last month," Wayne will be the first to say it's not him, but the members. "
Meadows was later elected president of the organization.
Documents raise questions about the NRA retirement plan
Even though the organization pays high wages to its top executives The future prospects for these NRB workers qualifying for a pension are getting worse.
NPR received a copy of the National Rifle Association's pension documents from 2019 from a source with direct access to it The Ohio State University, the NPR helped in reviewing these documents.
They show that the pension obligations of the NR B at the beginning of this year was about $ 134 million, but only $ 93 million had been set aside to meet those obligations.
They also show that the pension situation of the NRA has become more difficult in recent years. There are currently 786 people in the NRB Pension Fund, of which 223 are currently employed in the organization.
The NRA buried in a bullet at the bottom of one page of the pension report stated that it has blocked its retirement plan  in 2018. The plan can no longer generate new benefits, although it continues to work for the organization becomes.
"In fact, the best thing an organization can do is to cut pension benefits without completely canceling their plan," Mittendorf said.
The freezing of benefits for employees participating in the plan is in contrast to a one-time additional retirement pension of US $ 3,767,345, which LaPierre received in 2015 according to the NRB's public disclosures.
"This is an indication that the organization has not established" aside from sufficient funds to cover the retirement of its ordinary employees, "Mittendorf said." This means that the financial difficulties of the organization endanger the future of these simple employees. Something would have to change in the organization to cover it … The people at the top will be financially secure. It's the simple employees. "Endangered employees."
Complaints about low wages and a & # 39; culture of fear & # 39;
Former employees stated that the National Rifle Association had a difficult work environment.
"a culture of fear," said Vanessa Ross, who worked there from 2008 to 2011, directing the group's disabled shooting services. "The moment you raised your head and started asking questions, I felt it all turn – then it was like being a pariah, treated as if I was a terrible person, as if I meant Do not get the job right. "
Ross said she had been released from the NRA after asking questions about cuts in the group's disability shooting services.
A number of former employees talked about the struggle for the livelihood of a regular NRA employee, a topic Also mentioned in his open letter.
"We were terribly underpaid," added Steve Hoback, who worked on the NRB's training programs from 2009 to 2012. He said he had started at $ 28,000 a year and was after Three years' work has grown to $ 32,000 a year.
When he left the company, he was offered more than double the salary to work in training for another company because of frustration over the company's high compensation to NPR.
"The people at the bottom did not make much money. People who raise money made some money, but not much, compared to a typical nonprofit DC, "added Aaron Davis, who worked on fundraising for NRB from 2005 to 2015. I suspect about $ 10,000 less than a comparable nonprofit Position elsewhere. "
Ongoing Investigations and Unrest at the Base
Amidst all known high spending, the National Rifle Association has to deal with launching new investigations by the New York Attorney General and numerous investigations by the Congress to his finances.
And the NRA has to deal with members of the grassroots, such as Gun Preacher, Rob Pincus, who recently attempted to supplant the current leadership at the National Rifle Association's annual convention.
"They are sending money requests saying that they could go bankrupt in their lawsuit with New York and they are going through all the drama that they need money while they spend money on all those things they can not even do justified, "said Pincus. "The staff has known it for a while, but now membership is beginning to understand it."