The ad firm embroiled in a very public shooting match with the National Rifle Association is saying that it wants out of its contract with the gun rights group.
Oklahoma City-based PR shop Ackerman McQueen said in a Wednesday statement that it has “decided it is time to stand up for the truth” and end its 38-year partnership with the NRA.
The NRA and Ackerman have been trading public accusations and lawsuits over the past six weeks, as a power struggle within the firearms group exposed allegations of widespread self-dealing among its top execs.
“Over the last very difficult year, the NRA’s chaos led us to lose faith in the organization’s willingness to act on behalf of the NRA’s mission,” Ackerman says in the statement, emailed by a company spokesman to TPM. The Wall Street Journal first reported the statement.
In the statement, the PR firm goes on to accuse the NRA of attacking it with “frivolous lawsuits” and of slandering it “with made-up stories that were then cowardly peddled to the media.”
Ackerman has been responsible for some of the NRA’s most visible media campaigns, from the “I Am The NRA” effort to Charlton Heston’s septuagenarian rebirth as a gun-toting Moses, who would only allow a gun to be pried from his hands once cold and dead.
As the NRA raked in cash from these marketing campaigns, recent allegations suggest that money flowed between top NRA and Ackerman officials in various ways that may be out of line with the gun group’s status as a New York State non-profit. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the group’s compliance with state regulations that govern charities.
Ackerman accuses the NRA of “drag[ing] false allegations into the public with leaks and innuendo.”
It’s not clear how much of Ackerman’s business has gone to the NRA. An April court filing said that the NRA paid it as much as $40 million per year.
“The turmoil the NRA faces today was self-inflicted,” the statement reads. “It could have been avoided. We deeply regret that it wasn’t.”
An NRA spokesman did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment. The NRA has accused Ackerman of running a smear campaign against it in the press.