NRA Paid Ex-CFO $30,000 a Month for Consulting After He Retired

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(Bloomberg) -- The National Rifle Association’s longtime chief financial officer told a New York jury he was paid $30,000 a month after his retirement for consulting services to the gun-rights group, which the state alleges had squandered millions of dollars in donated cash.

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Woody Phillips, the NRA’s CFO from 1992 to 2018, testified Friday that the five-year consulting contract he signed required him to coordinate with former colleagues on relationships with major donors, though he said there were months when he rarely spoke to his successor or Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre.

Phillips and LaPierre are among four defendants in the 2020 lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who claims the NRA wasted money on lavish entertainment, travel and personal expenses for top executives. Phillips was the first defendant to take the stand in the trial, which began Monday and could last eight weeks.

New York’s complaint is based on the NRA being a registered nonprofit organization in the state, which has restrictions on how donated funds can be used. James initially sought to dissolve the NRA over the alleged financial wrongdoing, but a judge took that penalty off the table before trial.

The state alleges breach of fiduciary duty and violations of laws requiring proper administration of charitable assets, among other claims. Phillips and the other defendants have denied wrongdoing.

LaPierre, who said last week he would resign at the end of this month, is expected to testify later in the trial, as is the NRA’s general counsel, John Frazer.

On Friday, a state lawyer questioned Phillips about the contract he signed in his final months as CFO, which authorized Phillips to bill the NRA $30,000 a month for five years. The deal included an agreement that he would provide consulting services to “coordinate activities with the NRA’s Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO,” according to a court filing.

The contract required Phillips to help his ex-colleagues “build and maintain relationships with major gifts donors, identify and cultivate relationships with fundraising partners, and identify prospective high net worth individuals to solicit for major gifts,” court records show.

Phillips said he provided consulting services, but didn’t speak with his successor or with Lapierre as a consultant for months during which he was paid. The contract was eventually canceled. Phillips said he didn’t know why.

At stake in the trial is millions in restitution and penalties. The court proceedings, and Phillips’ testimony, will resume Tuesday.

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