The NRA says it is aware of “significant diversion of its assets” during the tax return

CNN obtained the NRA’s 990 tax return, which was intended for income-exempt organizations, stating that it “identified, in its view, the bonus transactions in which it became aware in 2019 and its previous calendar years, but the previous No 990 forms have been reported. ”

“During 2019, the National Riflemen’s Association became aware that its assets differ significantly from 2019 and the calendar years preceding it,” the statement said.

Charles Cotton, first vice president of the NRA and chairman of the Audit Committee, commented in a statement on 990 submissions to CNN.

“As evidenced by its tax return, the NRA is committed to strict adherence to its accounting controls and good governance practices,” Cotton said in a statement.

The form names eight current and former NRA executives who he said have “received excessive benefits,” including current executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre. Much of the disputed expense involves travel and personal expenses, and the NRA states in the submission that it is examining whether board members “could have used first-class or business-class travel without the permission required by the NRA’s travel policy.”

The filing states that the NRA estimates it paid nearly $ 300,000 in travel expenses on behalf of LaPierre between 2015 and 2019.

“The NRA has decided to treat payments as automatic surcharges under section 53.4959-4 (C) of the Treasury Rules,” the petition states. “Mr. LaPierre repaid this extra allowance to the National Shooters Association, plus interest, so the extra allowance was corrected.”

Andrew Arulanandam, NRA’s chief public affairs executive and LaPierre spokesman, said in a statement to CNN that the vast majority of LaPierre’s trips were “strictly in accordance with NRA policy, which only reimburses travel in the NRA’s interest.”

“If there is a question about certain travel expenses, Mr LaPierre reimbursed the NRA,” Arulanandam said in a statement. “These transactions will be fully disclosed in the 2019 tax return, in accordance with all regulations. The finances of the Association will be audited, will comply with all applicable regulations, and the Board of Directors will have an independent audit committee.”

The petition states that there are transactions from 2019 and other years that are “still under review” and are currently part of four different lawsuits.

One such lawsuit, filed by New York State Attorney General in August, seeks the dissolution of the NRA, alleging that its senior management violated laws governing nonprofit groups and used millions of the organization’s reserves for personal use and tax fraud.

James said in a statement to CNN that LaPierre’s refund shows that the NRA is “not controlled” under his leadership.

“For years, Wayne LaPierre and his lieutenants enacted the law and pocketed millions from the NRA’s coffers to fund a lavish lifestyle that included solitary planes, expensive vacations, expensive meals, and non-appearing contracts,” James said in a statement. “Reimbursing Mr. LaPierre only a fraction of the millions he personally earned indicates how uncontrolled the NRA took place under his leadership. There is no question that the rot will go deep, so our lawsuit will continue. The fight can only be stopped until then. they serve justice. “

At the time of James’ trial, LaPierre said in a statement that the investigation was “an unconstitutional, premeditated attack aimed at liquidating and destroying the NRA.” The NRA objected in federal court. Both lawsuits are still pending.

The 2019 tax return also states that the NRA reported a $ 12.2 million deficit in 2019.

When CNN asked the IRS to comment on whether the NRA could be sanctioned for the “bonus deals” in the petition, a spokesman for Raphael Tulino told CNN that “federal law prohibits the IRS from confirmation or denial of correspondence with taxpayers. The IRS does not comment on specific taxpayers or cases. “