NRA head Wayne LaPierre made $1.4 million in 2017. Here's what we know, and don't know, about the finances of America's most public gun rights advocate, who can reportedly change Trump's mind on gun policy with a single phone call.

REUTERS/Joshua RobertsWayne LaPierre has been the National Rifle Association’s top executive for 28 years.

As the CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Wayne LaPierre has been the public face of gun rights advocacy for years – and records indicate that he’s made millions doing so.

While LaPierre’s exact net worth is unknown, one estimate has put it at $US10 million. The NRA declined to comment on LaPierre’s net worth when reached by Business Insider.

LaPierre was paid more than $US1.4 million in 2017, according to NRA-filed tax documents. The Washington Post found that he made more than $US5 million in 2015, including a payout that year of a $US3.7 million retirement plan.

Here’s what we know about the CEO’s finances.


Wayne LaPierre is the CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), an American gun rights advocacy group.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

LaPierre has held the position for 28 years, since 1991.


While LaPierre’s exact net worth is unknown, one estimate puts it at $US10 million. In 2017, his compensation was more than $US1.4 million.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

While LaPierre’s exact net worth is unknown, one estimate by Celebrity Net Worth has put it at $US10 million, based on his NRA salary as disclosed in the organisation’s Form 990 filings.

Celebrity Net Worth looks at publicly available information including salaries, real-estate holdings, divorces, record sales, royalties and endorsements, removing estimated taxes, manager’s fees, agent fees, and lifestyle expenses.

In 2017, the most recent year available, NRA paid LaPierre a salary of $US1,366,688, plus an additional $US67,289 in “other compensation from the organisation and related organisations,” according to the company’s 2017 990 tax form. That brings his total compensation that year to $US1,433,977.

Five years earlier, in 2012, LaPierre made $US974,867 in total compensation.

In 2004, the earliest year the NRA’s 990 forms are available, LaPierre’s salary was $US633,823. LaPierre’s income from his books and speaking engagements is unknown.

And LaPierre’s pay wouldn’t necessarily cease if he were to step down from the company.

According to an investigation by The New Yorker, state records show that LaPierre’s contract “provides for consulting services and personal appearances upon the end of his employment, at an annual rate that starts at his currently contracted final base salary and is later reduced.” As in: The exec would continue to make his salary, or close to it, after retirement.

In response to The New Yorker’s reporting, Bill Brewer, a lawyer who represents the NRA, told the publication that the NRA “has serious concerns about the accuracy of this reporting and The New Yorker’s sources. Of course, we cannot comment on privileged communications or personnel matters.”


Between 2014 to 2015, as the NRA thrived, the CEO got a pay increase to more than $US5 million.

REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Thanks to a retirement payout, LaPierre’s compensation rose by more than $US4 million, according to tax forms obtained by The Washington Post. A San Francisco tax attorney, Marc Fosse, told the Post that such retirement payouts are typical for highly compensated employees.

“It probably had a vesting age, a normal retirement age, a normal retirement date in it, and that date hit and he had to take the benefits,” Fosse said.

In 2014, LaPierre made $US985,885, according to the documents. The very next year, in 2015, he brought in $US5,110,985.

Most of the extra cash came from the payout of a $US3.7 million retirement plan. His salary was also bumped to $US1,090,515 and he received a $US150,000 bonus.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on the nature of the retirement payout.

The raise coincided with a bump in revenue of the NRA itself. The organisation brought in $US336 million in revenue in 2015, about $US26 million more than the year before.


LaPierre is the eighth-highest paid nonprofit executive in the country, and the second-highest paid outside of medical professionals.

The watchdog group Charity Watch tracks leadership pay at over 600 nonprofits, NPR reports, and LaPierre is among the most richly compensated executives.

The heads of the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research out-earn him, per Charity Watch.


LaPierre is against universal background checks for buying guns and supports having armed, trained security officers in schools.

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia RawlinsA police officer stands guard in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, following a mass shooting in February 2018.

LaPierre has called universal background checks a “nightmare” for law-abiding gun owners.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said in a statement to reporters in December 2012, days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 children were killed.

Recent reports by The Atlantic and The New York Times have highlighted the influence that LaPierre has on President Donald Trump’s views on gun policy.

Shortly after recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Trump tweeted support for stronger background checks and was reportedly planning a ceremony at the White House’s Rose Garden to announce action on the issue.

Just two days later on August 7, a phone call with LaPierre changed Trump’s mind, according to the Atlantic. The Times reports that NRA officials continued to make frequent calls to the White House in the following weeks, and on August 18th, Trump appeared to have changed his stance on the issue, telling reporters: “People don’t realise, we have very strong background checks right now.”

The NRA did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment about the phone calls and LaPierre’s reported influence on Trump’s gun policy positions.


LaPierre lives in a wealthy suburb near Washington, DC, according to Money magazine.

Johannes Schmitt-Tegge/picture alliance via Getty ImagesThe headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Virginia.

He lives near the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.


The NRA head travels by private plane for security reasons.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The NRA has said in the past that LaPierre, as the public face of the organisation, must travel by private plane “for security reasons,” per the Washington Post.


LaPierre’s spending has come under scrutiny in recent months. An investigation by The New York Times found that LaPierre spent almost $US275,000 in 15 years at a luxury menswear boutique in California.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Times obtained documents showing purchases dating back to 2004 and totaling $US274,695 from the Zegna boutique in Beverly Hills.

Leaked internal documents also showed that LaPierre billed the organisation’s ad agency for $US18,300 for a private car and driver while travelling in Europe, as well as $US13,800 in rent for a summer intern, The Wall Street Journal reported.

When reached for comment by Business Insider about LaPierre’s wardrobe and travel expenses, NRA Board President Carolyn D. Meadows said that “the board is fully aware of these issues” and that she has “full confidence in Wayne LaPierre and the work he’s doing in support of the NRA and its members.”

In a May 22, 2019 letter to members, about a week after the Times’ reporting on LaPierre’s clothing purchases, Meadows and other current and past NRA executives addressed the reports.

“Over the years, Wayne had been advised by the NRA’s advertising professionals to invest in his professional wardrobe due to his numerous public and media appearances,” reads a copy of the letter, which was sent to Business Insider. The letter notes that the clothing expenses date back 15 years, over which time “… Wayne has participated in thousands of events and hundreds of TV appearances, and personally directed fundraising efforts that total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In any event, this practice was discontinued some time ago.”

The most recent expenditure on the leaked clothing bill was for $US21,080 – in February 2017, two years before the letter was written.


The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2019 that LaPierre was in talks with the NRA’s former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, for the agency to help him buy a house in Dallas that was priced at $US6.2 million at the time.

Google MapsA Google Maps satellite view of Westlake, the Texas suburb where the Wall Street Journal reported LaPierre was interested in buying a house.

Sources gave the Journal conflicting reports on the origin and the dissolution of the real-estate deal.

People familiar with the deal told the Journal that it was LaPierre’s idea to buy the home because he had concerns about his security following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and was interested in another residence apart from his home in Virginia.

But an NRA spokesperson said the idea was Angus McQueen’s, then co-CEO of the ad firm, who died in July.

William A. Brewer III, an outside NRA attorney, told the Journal that the NRA halted the deal “after its full terms – including Ackerman’s intent to spend NRA money – became known to Wayne LaPierre,” adding that “not a cent of NRA money was ultimately spent.”

The NRA did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the real-estate deal.

When reached for comment, the listing broker for the Texas house told Business Insider he could not confirm that LaPierre had considered buying the house.


LaPierre was criticised for spending $US70,000 to fly in private planes to and from the Bahamas days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

LaPierre charged the NRA’s ad agency $US39,947 for a private jet to Eleuthera and then $US29,100 for a plane from Nassau, Bahamas, to Dallas, Texas, according to internal travel records obtained by The Washington Post.

NRA spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam told the Post at the time that the flights were work-related travel.

“There was a business trip after Christmas 2012 involving donor outreach and the recruitment of influential NRA supporters and members,” Arulanandam said. “Wayne is responsible for a campaign to raise almost $US400 million annually, so he travels extensively on behalf of the Association – even over the holidays.”


LaPierre and the NRA have had a tumultuous past few months. In April, former NRA president Oliver North resigned from the organisation amid rumours of infighting, extortion, and financial impropriety.

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFormer NRA president Oliver North.

Rumours have long swirled of infighting between LaPierre and North, as Business Insider’s Áine Cain previously reported.

It was North who told the NRA board about LaPierre’s $US275,000 wardrobe expenditures, according to The Wall Street Journal, which then prompted LaPierre to accuse North of trying to extort him.

North and LaPierre did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider about the accusations of extortion.

North, who was NRA president for less than a year, was previously known for his involvement in theIran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, when senior officials in the Reagan administration – including North, who was a military aide to the National Security Council (NSC) – organised the sale of weapons to Iran, which was under an arms embargo. North later admitted to shredding NSC documents and lying to members of Congress about his role in the affair.

North did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.


In June, the organisation’s top lobbyist, Chris Cox, resigned after being accused of involvement in an alleged extortion scheme against LaPierre.

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesChris Cox, left, and Wayne LaPierre.

His resignation came while he was on administrative leave after being sued for being involved in what LaPierre alleges was an extortion scheme by North, according to The Washington Post. Cox has denied the allegations.

LaPierre told the NRA board that North was extorting him and pressuring him to resign.

Cox was the second-highest paid employee of the organisation in 2017 after LaPierre, with a compensation package of $US1,191,194.

His departure was followed by the resignation of three board members on August 1.

Cox did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.


LaPierre is at the head of an organisation that’s facing internal turmoil and a probe by the New York attorney general’s office. According to an accounting professor, the NRA’s 2018 financial report reveals the organisation is “living paycheck to paycheck.”

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The group, which is a nonprofit organisation, is facing a probe into potential financial and disclosure problems by the New York attorney general’s office.

“The NRA is prepared for this, and has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance,” William A. Brewer III, an attorney for the group, told the Journal in April.

David Nelson, a former Ernst & Young tax lawyer, told the Times the NRA seems to be in “very poor financial health” as it increasingly pulls money from its foundation amid falling revenue and a nearly maxed-out line of credit. The group’s expenses outstripped its revenue by $US11 million last year, Bloomberg reported.

The NRA’s 2018 financial report shows that the gun-rights group has increased spending on administrative costs while slashing expenses on training programs and political advocacy, INSIDER’S Christopher Woody reported.

Brian Mittendorf, an Ohio State University accounting professor who analysed the 2018 report, told The Washington Post that the documents depicted the organisation as “a person living paycheck to paycheck.”

At its Virginia headquarters, the NRA has gotten rid of free coffee and water coolers and frozen its employees’ pensions, according to The New Yorker.


A recent investigation by The New Yorker reported that a small group of NRA executives, vendors, and contractors have “extracted hundreds of millions of dollars” of the nonprofit’s budget through favourable or opaque financial dealings.

REUTERS/Bryan WoolstonImages of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, former legislative director Chris Cox, and former president Oliver North during the NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 27, 2019.

“According to interviews and to documents that I obtained – federal tax forms, charity records, contracts, corporate filings, and internal communications – a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and vendors has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements,” reporter Mike Spies wrote for The New Yorker.

Marc Owens, a former Internal Revenue Service employee who served as head of the division that oversees tax-exempt enterprises, reviewed the documents and found a “litany of red flags,” he told The New Yorker.

“The materials reflect one of the broadest arrays of likely transgressions that I’ve ever seen,” Owens said. “There is a tremendous range of what appears to be the misuse of assets for the benefit of certain venders and people in control.”

He added that if those facts are confirmed, the NRA’s tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organisation – granted to corporations only on the condition that they work for the public good – could be revoked.

In a May 22, 2019 letter to members, the NRA assured that the organisation is on budget in 2019. and that its “financial house is in order.”

“We have full confidence in the NRA’s accounting practices and commitment to good governance,” reads a copy of the letter, which was sent to Business Insider. “… Simply put, we are well-positioned on the regulatory front and poised to handle all challenges that confront us.”

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