NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said Wednesday hunting and shooting African wildlife is just part of his job.
Testifying at a Texas bankruptcy court hearing convened as part of the pro-gun group’s effort to evade a move by New York officials to put it out of business, LaPierre said hunting water buffalo and elephants on the dime of NRA vendors was “all work.”
Among the allegations leveled in a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James is that LaPierre and other key players at the NRA used donor funds like a “piggy bank” to fund extravagant trips around the world, no-show contracts and a traveling “glam squad” of stylists for LaPierre’s wife, Susan.
One question from James Sheehan, chief of the AG’s charity bureau: Did LaPierre receive “free hunting trips including all expenses paid for by Under Wild Skies and other NRA vendors?”
“Yes. That was all work,” LaPierre replied.
“You received an elephant hunting trip in Africa with your spouse in 2014, correct?” Sheehan asked.
“As part of the work for NRA, yes.”
The NRA executive vice president — he is effectively the organization’s leader and reportedly draws a salary of nearly $1 million along with other compensation — stuttered when asked why his wife joined him on a water buffalo hunt in Botswana in 2014, explaining it was “part of projecting her image for the NRA.”
LaPierre spoke during the third day of a hearing in Texas federal bankruptcy court. The NRA filed for bankruptcy in Texas five months after James filed a suit in New York seeking the group’s dissolution.
LaPierre, appearing virtually for the proceedings, admitted he put the NRA into bankruptcy without consulting the majority of the group’s 76-member board.
“We filed this bankruptcy to look for a fair legal playing field where the NRA can prosper and grow — as opposed to, what we believed, had become a toxic, politicized, weaponized government in New York state,” LaPierre said.
Scores of LaPierre’s answers were stricken from the record as he struggled to give a straight answer and stuttered throughout his testimony.
Judge Harlin Hale, sitting in Dallas bankruptcy court, will rule if the bankruptcy case should proceed, or if questions surrounding the NRA’s money woes should continue to be litigated in New York courts. The nonprofit listed its assets between $100 million and $500 million in filing for bankruptcy.
The NRA and other parties in the case appear to agree that despite the bankruptcy filing, the organization is financially sound.
Hale said Wednesday that the NY AG’s motion to throw out the case is “the most important motion I’ve ever heard as a judge.”
On Monday, the court heard a deposition from LaPierre in which he described hiding aboard his Hollywood producer pal David McKenzie’s yacht in the Bahamas to escape the national outrage that erupted after the slaughter of innocent children with military-grade firearms.
“And 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,’” LaPierre said in a videotaped deposition played during the trial’s opening remarks.
“And that’s how it happened. That’s why I used it.”
Under more questioning about his summer boating activities Wednesday, LaPierre described his time aboard the “Illusions” as a “security retreat.” He said his two donor-funded trips to Europe on a separate boat — this one named the “Grand Illusions” — were to recruit celebrities to join the NRA.
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