August 19, 2022

A top NRA official has been exposed quietly settling two sex harassment complaints

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A top official of the National Rifle Association just got caught using the nonprofit’s money to settle not one but two sexual harassment complaints.


The NRA paid unknown amounts to settle claims against Joshua Powell, who served as its executive director of general operations until last December and is apparently one of the senior advisors to its top merchant of death, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

Powell’s reputation is so tainted inside the NRA that even its board members are passing notes to LaPierre begging him to fire the serial sexual harasser.

However, we do know that the accusations against Powell kept rolling in, leading to a second confidential settlement the following year. ProPublica reports:

The employee’s complaint was settled in 2017 using the nonprofit’s funds, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Earlier that year, Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s leader, had promoted Powell to executive director of general operations.

In a separate harassment dispute in 2018, Powell’s behavior toward a woman who works for Ackerman McQueen, then the NRA’s advertising firm, escalated tensions in their decadeslong business relationship and caused Ackerman to bar him from any further contact with its employees.

If you’re keeping track, Ackerman McQueen (known as AckMack) is the same advertising firm behind propaganda like Charlton Heston’s memorable line about pulling his gun “from his cold, dead hands.”

Today, AckMack is suing the NRA and just this week laid off 50 employees who used to be behind the national death cult’s messaging operation.

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Late last year, Joshua Powell was transferred from the high-ranking position overseeing the gun lobby’s operations into a position as “senior strategist” to oversee the group’s lawsuit against the New York Department of Financial Services and the state governor, Andrew Cuomo (D).

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Nevertheless, this past spring, a federal judge declared that the state of New York didn’t violate the NRA’s rights by restricting its capacity to sell what is commonly known as “murder insurance.”

For those services, Powell earns $800,000 per year.

Two weeks before that fateful hearing, the New York Attorney General announced a probe into the NRA’s corporate practices and its charitable foundation, which could result in it losing its state charter to operate and sound a death knell for the group.

That hasn’t caused the NRA’s embattled leadership to part ways with its former executive director as it did with the heir apparent to its empire of death, head-lobbyist and former number two official Christopher W. Cox .

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The NRA’s board members are desperate to get rid of Joshua Powell, but they’ve been frozen out by its upper management.

Fortunately, they had to resort to sending written notes in the hopes of purging a serial sexual harasser from the group’s payroll, and one of them landed in ProPublica’s hands:

In June, Robert Brown, an NRA board member, emailed LaPierre and Frazer about Powell. ProPublica obtained a copy of the note, which is addressed to Frazer. “John,” it says, “Since Wayne refuses to respond to my emails, plez pass on to him the message below.”

“Wayne,” the message reads, “At the last NRA BoD meeting, you promised me you were going to terminate that worthless scoundrel, Josh Powell, in 60 days. Well, 60 days have passed. When are you going to fire him?”

Joshua Powell isn’t even the first well-paid NRA official to be exposed as a scumbag this summer after its former CFO got exposed by the New Yorker for running a massive embezzlement scheme and using the charity for self-enrichment.

National Rifle Association members donate millions to the struggling gun promotion group annually, and its tax-free status helps it propagandize unsafe gun ownership to millions of Americans.

Luckily, an insider tipped off diligent journalists at The Trace and ProPublica about their disastrous misuse of charitable funds to pay off women who were sexually harassed by a high ranking NRA official that continued getting promotions and huge paychecks, or else we’d have never learned about this fiasco.

Grant Stern

Editor at Large

is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also a mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition, and a Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.

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