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Private Jets, $2m Travel Bill Raise Questions About NRA Chief LaPierre

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The National Rifle Association has used unorthodox means to arrange Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre’s costly travel, including his use of private jets for almost every trip. Handling the arrangements is Gayle Stanford, who isn’t registered as a travel agent and who settled unrelated civil charges that she defrauded small businesses at the same time she was working as an NRA contractor, the Wall Street Journal reports. NRA accountants were told to pay travel bills from Stanford without detailed supporting documentation, which was held in a private file in the NRA’s treasurer’s office. The bills totaled about $2 million in one recent year.

The travel setup illustrates elements of NRA internal practices that some experts have said raise questions about the gun-rights group’s governance—including revelations this year of steep spending on LaPierre and lax controls on outside vendors. Claims of spending abuses are at the core of continuing court disputes between the NRA and its former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen. The NRA has claimed the ad firm overbilled it. Ackerman denies that and alleges LaPierre asked it to shoulder the costs for his “lavish wardrobe expenditures” and overseas trips. The NRA started an overhaul of its governance practices last year. The NRA said it is auditing all vendors related to Ackerman, which includes reviewing payments to  Stanford “to validate the appropriateness of all expenses and determine if this relationship has worked in the best interest of the Association.” The NRA didn’t say how long LaPierre has flown on private jets, a practice common among corporate CEOs but rare at nonprofits such as the NRA. The NRA said charter services have been used for security and efficiency reasons.

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