Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), confirmed in court Friday that he used company funds for personal trips and gifts.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued the NRA in 2020, alleging LaPierre and other company leaders diverted millions of dollars away from the company’s mission and used it for luxury personal benefits.
The suit originally attempted to completely dissolve the NRA, but the effort was later shut down. It also seeks to remove LaPierre from his position, where he has been the company’s public face for more than 30 years.
LaPierre, 74, announced he would resign at the end of January, citing health concerns.
In court Friday, the CEO claimed he had no knowledge of the total amounts of money the NRA was spending on private jets. Some money went toward chartering his family even when he wasn’t there, The New York Times reported.
LaPierre did not dispute the extent of the spending pointed out by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Conley. Conley showed receipts of the NRA paying for his niece and her daughter’s private flights that cost $11,000 and $27,000.
He also testified that he had detailed knowledge of a luxury yacht named “Illusions” owned by NRA vendors where he and his family vacationed in the Bahamas, the Times reported. Other vacations included India, Abu Dhabi and another trip on a yacht called “Grant Illusion” to the Greek Isles.
The NRA and LaPierre have denied wrongdoing in James’s case.
Under LaPierre, the organization became one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, endorsing many Republican candidates and advocating for Second Amendment rights.
The lawsuit represents a series of troubles facing the organization, though. In recent years, fundraising and membership have dipped significantly.
The NRA has attempted to throw out the case multiple times. A New York appeals court ruled the case should continue because of the “ample evidence of malfeasance.”
Opening statements in the case began on Jan. 8 in Manhattan. LaPierre’s lawyer has asked for his testimony to be limited if he was feeling unwell, the Times reported.
Other defendants in the case are accused of violating nonprofit laws for their personal benefit. If found liable, jurors will decide how much they all must repay the NRA.