The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday against its longtime marketing partner Ackerman McQueen, alleging the firm orchestrated negative publicity and intentionally caused executive turmoil for the gun-rights giant.
The NRA claims the ad agency leaked information regarding CEO Wayne LaPierre’s wardrobe and travel expenses to the media in an attempt to “tarnish and destroy the public image of the NRA and its senior leadership,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ackerman called the action “another reckless attempt to scapegoat Ackerman McQueen for the NRA’s own breakdown in governance, compliance and leadership,” in a statement to the WSJ.
Leaked documents appeared in a May 11 WSJ article detailing $500,000 in wardrobe and travel expenses for LaPierre, as well as information about legal fees charged by attorney William A. Brewer III, whose firm billed $24 million to the NRA since last March.
The Wall Street Journal did not confirm the source of the documents.
This is not the first time this year the NRA has sued Ackerman. Another suit filed Apr. 12 alleged Ackerman had not provided adequate billing details to justify its substantial billing, the WSJ reported. The NRA paid Ackerman $42.6 million in 2017.
The new suit was filed in an Alexandria, Virginia court, and also alleges that Ackerman, a 30-year business partner, led a conspiracy to stage an “executive coup,” in order to deflect attention away from the NRA’s billing allegations, according to the Journal.
Recently, Retired Col. Allen West, a two-term board member, criticized LaPierre and the NRA’s newly-elected President Carolyn Meadows, accusing the executives of keeping information from the board and lying to the media.
Rumors of financial mismanagement have plagued the gun-rights organization since a detailed New Yorker article Apr. 17 describing LaPierre’s considerable expense requirements as well as the group’s considerable legal tab.
A public power struggle between LaPierre and former President Oliver North came to a head during the group’s annual meeting in Indianapolis April 27, with North refusing to run for another term.
The NRA is seeking $40 million in damages.
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