Wayne LaPierre says he didn't warn NRA before bankruptcy or disclose post–mass shooting 'security retreats' on luxury yacht

Wayne LaPierre
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre acknowledged in court Wednesday that he did not inform most of the NRA's board before he pushed the gun organization into bankruptcy protection in January. LaPierre also conceded he should have disclosed his several free trips on a 108-foot luxury yacht owned by David McKenzie, a Hollywood producer closely tied to four vendors the NRA paid $100 million in recent years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The NRA is facing off in bankruptcy court against New York Attorney General Letitia James and the gun group's largest creditor, estranged longtime advertising firm Ackerman McQueen. James filed a broad lawsuit against the NRA last summer, seeking its dissolution over alleged self-dealing by LaPierre and other top NRA executives, plus other financial malfeasance. New York and Ackerman McQueen are trying to block the NRA's Chapter 11 filing.

The New York attorney general and the NRA both basically seem to agree that the NRA is financially solvent, and that it has filed for bankruptcy — pausing the New York lawsuit and other litigation — to avoid scrutiny from New York authorities. Whether the NRA can cloak itself in bankruptcy protection and reincorporate in Texas from New York, where it chartered as a nonprofit in 1871, will be up to Judge Harlin Hale in Dallas. Hale on Wednesday called this "the most important motion I've ever heard as a judge."

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LaPierre said in a deposition filed over the weekend that he and his family took refuge in the Bahamas, on McKenzie's yacht and at a resort the producer paid for, several times between 2013 and 2018 due to threats he received after mass shootings in Parlkand, Florida, and Newtown, Connecticut. The yacht, Illusions, "was offered as a security retreat where we could be safe and feel safe," LaPierre said. "This was the one place that I hope could feel safe, where I remember getting there going, 'Thank God I'm safe, nobody can get me here.'"

Under questioning, LaPierre said he neither paid to use the yacht nor reported it on financial disclosure forms, as required. He also conceded that his security director did not assess the security of the yacht or do background checks on its cook and other staff. LaPierre also cited security concerns when trying to have Ackerman McQueen buy him a $6 million mansion in a gated Dallas suburb in 2018 and when he treated his house for mosquitoes, The Washington Post reports.

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