Rep. Brad Schneider calls on the IRS to investigate the NRA's tax-exempt status

The lawmaker's call-to-action is the latest blow for the NRA, which has faced mounting scrutiny in recent weeks

Published May 9, 2019 6:01PM (EDT)

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) (AP/Susan Walsh)
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) (AP/Susan Walsh)

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., has called on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the National Rifle Association in the wake of a damning report released last month detailing allegations of financial misconduct by the powerful gun lobby.

Schneider, a member of the top tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking him to examine the NRA's business dealings and its tax-exempt status.

"In light of this information, I respectfully ask that you review whether the recent allegations against the NRA warrant reconsideration of the organization’s tax-exempt status," Schneider said in his letter.

"The American people deserve to know that tax-exempt organizations are not abusing their preferential tax treatment and are operating according to their intended social welfare purpose, which is to benefit society," Schneider wrote.

The congressman's letter is the latest blow for the NRA, which has come under mounting scrutiny in recent weeks. Senate Democrats announced last week they have asked current and former NRA executives, as well as the organization's public relations firm, to turn over documents as they investigate claims of self-dealing and the group's nonprofit status.

In addition, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced last week that her office had launched an investigation into the tax-exempt status of the organization, which is chartered in the Empire State. James has issued subpoenas and sent letters telling the organization and its affiliated entities to preserve all relevant financial records.

The NRA has also been rocked by an internal leadership fight that appeared to come to a head earlier this month at the group's annual meeting in Indianapolis. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre alleged in a letter at the time that former NRA President Oliver North had tried to extort him by threatening to reveal a "devastating account" of the group's finances unless LaPierre stepped down from his position and withdrew the NRA from a lawsuit it had filed against the group's PR firm, Ackerman McQueen.

North sent the board a letter of his own in response, saying he was only acting in the NRA's best interests, and he was forming a "Crisis Management Committee" to investigate internal financial matters. North had previously sent a longer letter to the NRA board highlighting allegations of financial misconduct, including more than $200,000 of wardrobe purchases by LaPierre that were charged to an NRA vendor.

North announced last week that he would not run for re-election after multiple news outlets published prominent articles exploring alleged financial mismanagement by top officials at the organization.

Shannon Watts, an activist who founded Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, said the gun control organization Everytown For Gun Safety had filed its own complained to the IRS over the NRA's tax-exempt status.

Additionally, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a 2020 presidential candidate, said he also plans to call on the IRS to investigate the NRA's alleged misconduct.

By Shira Tarlo

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