David Dell’Aquila’s Tough Love Approach to NRA

NRA Contractors Money
David Dell’Aquila began looking closer at where his donations were actually going, and he began asking questions about how his and other members’ money was being spent.  iStock

Tombstone, Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- NRA heavy-hitter donor and Wayne LaPierre critic David Dell’Aquila is back in court in his efforts to force major changes within the Association.

Dell’Aquila first filed his suit against the NRA, the NRA Foundation, and Wayne LaPierre back in 2019, shortly after revelations of widespread financial chicanery within the organization became public. Through a long trail of ups and downs, the lawsuit has lingered in the background for almost four years and came very close to dying on the vine on a couple of occasions, but each time, Dell’Aquila was able to keep it alive.

On Friday, June 30, 2023, Dell’Aquila and his co-plaintiffs, with new attorneys representing them, filed their Third Amended Complaint in the case. This complaint attempts to revive several aspects of the original filing that the court had rejected. The court had previously dismissed Wayne LaPierre and the NRA Foundation from the complaint. It rejected the application of RICO (Racketeering) statutes against the Association but had approved the case against the NRA itself to go forward on the grounds of fraud.

Approval of the suit against the NRA allowed Dell’Aquila to participate as a significant creditor in the NRA’s ill-fated bankruptcy effort in 2020. Still, the bankruptcy also put the Dell’Aquila lawsuit on hold until the bankruptcy case was resolved. In the meantime, problems with Dell’Aquila’s lawyer came out, and the case was on the verge of being dismissed if new representation could not be found. After months of searching, new counsel was found, and the case was revived just before the deadline that would have seen the case dismissed.

The new Third Amended Complaint is the first significant action from the new legal team.

In the Amended Complaint, Dell’Aquila, and co-complainants seek to restore LaPierre and the NRA Foundation as defendants, and they are making another run at using RICO statutes.

They have also added ‘Breach of Contract’ to the complaint. It appears that the original complaints failed to adequately address those issues in a way the court could accept. The new team believes they have remedied those deficiencies. They are optimistic that the court will accept their new arguments, allowing the case to move forward into the Discovery phase.

Longtime readers know that I, and my father before me, have been reporting on issues inside of NRA for decades. The issues we’ve reported on have ranged from day-to-day matters, such as the treatment of employees and management of vendors, to matters of political and legislative strategy.

Through all of that, from Dad’s leadership in the Cincinnati Revolt of 1977 and his time as Executive Director of NRA-ILA to his ejection from the NRA Board and his subsequent reelection and ascension to the First Vice President chair and beyond, our objective has always been to see the NRA fulfill its duty to its member, and more broadly, to the nation and the Constitution. It wasn’t always comfortable or cordial, but we always put the NRA and its mission over any personal goals or benefits.

David Dell’Aquila New York Times Article July 2nd 2019
David Dell’Aquila New York Times Article July 2nd, 2019

I believe David Dell’Aquila has a similar attitude. Mr. Dell’Aquila is a longtime member of the NRA who has donated thousands of dollars to the organization over the years. A retired tech industry entrepreneur, Dell’Aquila had pledged to leave the NRA some $10 million from his estate, but around 2018, he began looking closer at where his donations were actually going, and he began asking questions about how his and other members’ money was being spent. It didn’t take long to realize that just asking the questions caused significant discomfort among NRA “leaders.” Rather than backing off and not asking questions, as so many people – including many on the NRA Board of Directors – have done, Dell’Aquila dug deeper and asked tougher questions.

Dell’Aquila’s decision to sue the organization he loves did not come easy. His initial hope was to pressure enough NRA Directors to get them to take corrective action. That pressure started with the withdrawal of his own pledges of future contributions, then extended to the withdrawal of support from other major donors. He publicly challenged Directors for their failure to take substantive action, worked to raise awareness of the situation inside NRA, and kept hoping all of this, along with the lawsuit hanging over them, would be enough to wake them up and get them moving in the right direction.

Failing all of that, Dell’Aquila’s last resort was to push forward with the lawsuit in the hope of having the court force the removal of LaPierre and his co-conspirators and order a complete restructuring of the Association.

Suing the NRA was not David Dell’Aquila’s first choice, but like dealing with a child, spouse, or friend with an addiction, sometimes the only option is to take harsh measures to force them out of their destructive cycle. It isn’t called “tough love” because it’s easy.

Along with the possibility of directly forcing corrective action through this lawsuit, keeping it alive also retains the prospect of Dell’Aquila being an important player in any new attempt by the NRA to declare bankruptcy, and it establishes him and his fellow plaintiffs as prominent leaders of the “Loyal Opposition” to the current NRA regime. That could become very important if the New York suit against the Association finally gets to trial and that judge goes looking for dedicated NRA members to help guide the restructuring of the Association.

All NRA members, gun owners, and lovers of liberty should be thankful for David Dell’Aquila and his dogged determination to do whatever it takes to save his beloved organization.

Note: Copies of several court documents from this case, along with documents from other NRA-related cases, are available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org as well as numerous articles detailing the problems within the NRA and efforts to right the ship. There are also numerous articles on the National Rifle Association – both from reformers like me and from current Directors who still support LaPierre – posted on AmmoLand.com.