Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, told a bankruptcy judge that he did not inform other NRA leaders of his decision to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy on behalf of the organization.
According to The Hill, LaPierre said he consulted a three-member, special litigation team before moving the NRA towards bankruptcy. However, he did not pass on any details to the group’s governing boards or to its general membership.
While speaking in court on Wednesday, LaPierre did not elaborate on why he kept bankruptcy plans secret.
“We filed this bankruptcy to look for a fair legal playing field where NRA could prosper and grow in a fair legal environment, as opposed to what we believed had become a toxic, politicized, weaponized government in New York state,” he said.
The National Rifle Association, as LegalReader’s reported before, is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has repeatedly claimed that LaPierre and other NRA leaders violated their own policies, spending membership dues and donations on luxury clothes, sponsored vacations, and jet charters.
On Wednesday, LaPierre divulged further personal expenses, including “free overseas yacht trips.”
When a lawyer from the A.G.’s office challenged LaPierre’s lack of expense disclosures, he simply admitted that he could have done things differently.
“It could have been disclosed,” LaPierre said.
The yacht trip was one of several “items of value” LaPierre had not initially disclosed, including other yacht trips as well as a hunting trip to Botswana.
LaPierre defended the expenditures, noting that he did not pay for the hunting trip, instead describing it as an image-building exercise for the NRA.
Bloomberg.com notes that the disclosures are an important part of New York’s legal strategy. Even though the NRA is trying to shift its headquarters to Texas, James want the court to either replace LaPierre as the group’s leader or to toss the bankruptcy case altogether.
If New York manages to squash the NRA’s bankruptcy claim, then the state would have an easier time continuing its own lawsuit against the organization.
Throughout the hearing, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. Hale was forced to pressure LaPierre to answer and elaborate upon questions presented by New York. LaPierre, says Bloomberg, made justificatory statements in response to yes-or-no questions, earning a reprimand from the judge.
“It would be better if you listened carefully to the question and answer it,” Hale at one point instructed LaPierre.
While Hale isn’t expected to make a ruling until the bankruptcy trial concludes, the trial itself will likely center on New York’s allegations of financial misconduct by LaPierre and other NRA leaders.