Celebrating 30 years of helping you give wisely
America's most independent,
assertive charity watchdog

NRA Executive Reaches Settlement With New York Attorney General on Eve of Trial

   Jan 08, 2024

According to a January 5, 2024 press release by New York Attorney General (NY AG) Letitia James, “Attorney General James Announces Settlement with Former NRA [National Rifle Association] Senior Strategist on Eve of Trial.” 

From 2016 through January 30, 2020, Joshua Powell served as the NRA’s Executive Director of General Operations, Chief of Staff, and Senior Strategist. 

As previously reported by CharityWatch, the NRA’s fiscal 2019 IRS tax Form 990 reported Excess Benefit Transactions for Powell and other NRA staff members.

According to the 990, "...The aggregate excess benefit determined to be provided to Mr. Powell from 2016 through 2019 was $54,904.45. ... The NRA has rejected the check [tendered by Powell to the NRA for $40,760.20, in purported full settlement], so correction of the excess benefit has not yet been made. ... The amount of excise tax due...by Mr. Powell is determined to be $13,726.11. In addition, the New York State Office of the Attorney General has challenged, as unreasonable, compensation paid to Mr. Powell during the period from 2016 through 2019." (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Part V re: Part I, line 1 - 1b).

$100,000 Settlement

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on January 5th, 2024 that Powell reached a $100,000 agreement with her office. Powell was one of five defendants in the lawsuit brought by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) against the NRA and senior management in August 2020. “As part of the agreement, Powell has admitted to OAG's claims of wrongdoing in its lawsuit. The trial of the claims against the NRA and the remaining defendants will begin on Monday, January 8,” according to the press release.  

The press release also stated:

“The lawsuit brought by Attorney General James in August 2020 alleged that NRA senior management misappropriated millions of dollars to fund personal benefits, including private jets, expensive meals, and even family trips to the Bahamas. The NRA, as a New York-registered not-for-profit, charitable corporation, has legal obligations to use its funds for charitable purposes, not to support the lavish lifestyles of senior management and organization insiders. The OAG investigation found that instead of serving NRA members, senior management blatantly disregarded New York state and federal laws, and even internal NRA policies. With today’s agreement Powell has admitted to failing in his fiduciary responsibilities and misusing charitable funds, just as Attorney General James alleged in the August 2020 lawsuit.” 

Lawsuit Timeline

Attorney General James filed the lawsuit against the NRA and its senior management in August 2020, in part, to effectuate dissolution of the organization. The NRA moved to dismiss the Complaint and change the court venue, but these efforts were unsuccessful. The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2021 in an effort to “avoid accountability by trying to reorganize the organization in Texas,” according to the press release. In May 2021 a federal bankruptcy court in Texas rejected the NRA’s bankruptcy petition, stating that “the NRA did not file the bankruptcy petition in good faith.” 

A second round of motions brought forward by the NRA In March 2022 to try to dismiss the lawsuit were also unsuccessful. “In June 2022, New York State Supreme Court Judge Joel Cohen held that Attorney General James’ claims against the NRA’s wrongdoing are serious and viable, and are well within her office’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute,” according to the press release. In September 2022, the Court rejected a third effort by the NRA “to challenge the Attorney General’s claims and affirmed that Attorney General James can seek an independent monitor to oversee the NRA’s finances as part of her lawsuit,” the press release stated. 

In January 2024, a final effort to delay the trial was rejected by the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department. The trial is set to proceed today, January 8, 2024.

Related Charities