NRA boss asked for luxury mansion to protect his safety after Parkland shooting

The LaPierres are believed to have chosen a French country-style estate in a gated golf club near Dallas

Carol D. Leonnig,Beth Reinhard
Thursday 08 August 2019 10:12 BST
NRA chief Wayne LaPierre says elites don't care about America's children in wake of Florida shooting

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association asked the nonprofit organisation buy him a luxury mansion last year after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

Wayne LaPierre told associates he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after 17 people were gunned down last year in Parkland, Florida, sources said.

Mr LaPierre and his wife, Susan, rejected an upscale high rise in Dallas with numerous security features in favour of a 10,000-square-foot French country-style estate with lakefront and golf course views in Westlake, Texas, on the market for about $6m, according to emails and text messages.

The messages described to The Washington Post reveal the couple wanted to secure a social membership at the exclusive golf club in the gated community. They also sought the purchase of two vehicles and to keep the current owner’s “golf cart if possible”.

One aspect of the property that concerned Susan LaPierre, however, was the lack of closet space in the men’s closet of the master bedroom.

The discussions about the estate, which was not ultimately purchased, are now under scrutiny by New York investigators.

Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s longtime ad agency, said Mr LaPierre had sought the ad firm’s assistance with the real estate transaction, a proposal it said alarmed company officials.

“Actions in this regard led to Ackerman McQueen’s loss of faith in Mr LaPierre’s decision-making,” the firm said.

For their part, NRA officials said that the real estate purchase was suggested in early 2018 by Ackerman McQueen as an investment that would be managed by the ad firm’s top executives – and that it was ultimately rejected by top NRA leaders.

The agency introduced Mr LaPierre to its preferred local real estate agent, directed a tour of multiple homes, and established a company to manage the investment,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in a statement late Wednesday. “No matter, Mr LaPierre ultimately rejected the opportunity and not one dime of the NRA’s money was spent on this venture.”

The LaPierres did not respond to requests for comment.

The New York attorney general’s office is now examining the plan for an NRA-financed mansion as part of its ongoing investigation into the gun lobby’s tax-exempt status, in which it has subpoenaed the group’s financial records, the people said.

New York attorney Daniel Kurtz, an expert in nonprofit law, said such a home purchase could have violated New York charity law, which requires all transactions benefiting the group’s insiders to be “fair, reasonable and in the corporation’s best interest.”

Mr LaPierre received a salary of $1.37m for his role as executive vice president in 2017, plus an additional $67,289 in compensation, according to the NRA’s latest tax filing.

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The LaPierres’s real estate hunt began after the February 2018 massacre in Parkland. Days later, Mr LaPierre publicly attacked gun control advocates as “elites” who “care not one whit about America’s school system and schoolchildren.”

Behind the scenes, Mr LaPierre was telling associates he was worried about his safety and that the location of his home in Virginia was easy for potential attackers to find, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“They were just trying to find a safe house to put him in,” said LeRoy Sisco, a retired businessman in Texas who has been on the board about 10 years. “Other people could use it too. They were just saying that they needed to get him to a safe place.”

In recent months, leaked documents have been published showing that the NRA paid $542,000 for private jet trips for Mr LaPierre, including a trip to the Bahamas with his wife after the Sandy Hook shooting and an array of Italian designer suits as well as the rent for a summer intern’s apartment.

The expenses were first paid by Ackerman McQueen, which then billed the NRA as part of its multimillion-dollar annual contract, according to people familiar with the arrangement.

The Washington Post

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