NRA chief accuses OKC ad agency of blackmail
Oklahoma City-based Ackerman McQueen is being accused of blackmailing the longtime NRA leader Wayne LaPierre as a fight between the organization’s vice president and its ceremonial President Oliver North broke open Friday during the national convention.
The accusation, first reported Friday by the Wall Street Journal, follows a lawsuit filed by the NRA against Ackerman McQueen alleging the firm was withholding billing information and breaching their contract.
The alleged blackmail involves claimed threats of detailing “a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses."
The Oklahoman was not able to get a response Friday night from Ackerman McQueen to the blackmail claims but the company previously disputed the lawsuit allegations.
Ackerman McQueen has worked with the NRA for 38 years, and court filings reveal annual billings in recent years have topped $40 million as operations expanded to include NRATV featuring personalities Dana Loesch and Oliver North. Those billings, according to The New Yorker, include $1 million contracts between Ackerman McQueen and Loesch and North.
In the letter sent to board members and posted online by The Wall Street Journal, LaPierre alleged an effort to verify billings with vendors ran into “extraordinary resistance from one vendor — Ackerman McQueen.”
“As most of you know, I’ve been a proponent of Ackerman McQueen in the past because they are capable of doing high quality work,” LaPierre said. “But as I’ve discovered, Ackerman McQueen is capable of doing something much different.”
LaPierre then goes on to share details of a phone call placed by North to NRA staffer Millie Hallow.
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“Col. North stated that the purpose of the call was to relay the contents of a letter drafted by Ackerman McQueen,” LaPierre wrote. “According to Col. North, he had been advised by Dan Boren, a member of our board and an employee of Ackerman McQueen’s client — that unless I resigned the executive vice president of the association, Ackerman would transmit this allegedly damaging letter to the entire NRA board. According to Col. North, the letter was ‘bad’ for me, two other members of my executive team and the association.”
LaPierre's letter goes on to say North assured the Ackerman McQueen letter would not be sent if LaPierre resigned and he could “negotiate” an “excellent retirement” for LaPierre.