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September 7, 2018

Executive Compensation at the NRA

by Anne Paddock

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is a non-profit 501 (c) (4) organization that fights tirelessly for our second amendment rights. Whether or not you believe the second amendment refers to “militia” or “the people” has always been controversial but is even more so in the wake of the near weekly occurrence of mass shootings in this country. People are speaking out for gun control because quite frankly, there are too many guns and assault weapons in the hands of the wrong people, and too many people are dying.

But the NRA won’t budge an inch often referring to “the slippery slope” and the right of people to defend themselves from the tyranny of government (that our government along with several others have more than 15,000 nuclear weapons doesn’t seem to be a consideration. I don’t know a lot about guns or assault weapons but I’d go out on a limb here and say these weapons won’t protect anyone from the tyranny of a government with an arsenal of nuclear warheads).

The NRA is successful because they are organized (6 million members who pay about $40 a year for membership) and have a lot of money (they raise about $370 million a year and have $36 million in their net fund balance as of year-end 2016). They spend these funds on all sorts of things: lobbyists, political action committees, defending pro bono cases, education, training, advertising, public relations and paying their executives very well. In fact, the most recent IRS Form 990 (2016) reveals that the ten most highly compensated key executives received $8 million dollars in 2016:

  • $1,422,339:  Wayne LaPierre, CEO and EVP
  • $  997,431:  Chris W Cox, Executive Director, NRAILA
  • $  922,980:  Robert K Weaver, Executive Director, General Operations
  • $  840,284:  Wilson H Phillips, Jr., Treasurer
  • $  697,259:  Todd Grable, Executive Director, Membership, Affinity, and Licensing
  • $  686,815:  Tyler Schropp, Executive Director, Advancement
  • $  645,899:  Michael Marcellin, Managing Director, Affinity and Licensing
  • $  642,690:  Douglas Hamlin, Executive Director, Publications
  • $  523,602:  David Lehman, Deputy Executive Director, NRAILA
  • $  439,468:  John C Frazer, Secretary and General Counsel

As illustrated above, the ten most highly compensated individuals were all male. Not one woman in the executive management list above despite a membership that is reported to be 40% female and 40% ethnic minorities (according to Jim Brown of Quora). In fact, all ten of the executives listed above are middle-aged white men.

The IRS Form 990 also reports the organization paid for:

  • first class or charter travel
  • tax indemnification and gross-up payments
  • health or social club dues or initiation fees

That the organization used membership dues to pay for first class or charter travel (due to “travel logistics or security concerns”) is perplexing given the heightened security of the TSA and the airline industry. How ironic is it that the NRA doesn’t always have their employees travel commercially in economy seats because of security concerns or travel logistics.  The only upside to this is that they will run out of money sooner. And, the organization states that “clubs are supposed to be used for business purposes” but they don’t say they are. That these benefits and high salaries are being paid to ten men could be construed as excessive, maybe even piggish.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2016), click here.

September, 2019 Update:  To read about executive compensation at the NRA in 2017, click here.

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