The National Rifle Association is suing its estranged former ad firm, Ackerman McQueen—again.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Dallas, Texas, demands that the ad firm remove any reference to the NRA from its website. And it blasts a central product the firm created for the gun group: its often-controversial, now-defunct streaming service, NRATV.
“[T]he NRA recently concluded, despite years of false reporting from defendants, that NRATV was a failed endeavor under any appropriate performance metric,” the lawsuit reads.
The NRATV programming featured major conservative personalities, including Oliver North, Dana Loesch, and current Fox News contributor Dan Bongino. And it often waded into culture wars—one notorious segment featured a digitally altered picture of Thomas the Tank Engine wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.
The gun group sued the ad firm in Virginia Circuit Court earlier this year demanding information about its billing practices. Then it sued the ad firm again, seeking tens of millions of dollars. The ad firm sued back, and the two entities are now locked in a pricey legal fight. Thanks to today’s litigation, that fight just got bigger—and, at least for whichever entity loses, more expensive.
One exhibit in the lawsuit cites a letter that the NRA’s communications chief, Andrew Arulanandam, sent to the ad firm yesterday.
“Despite the now obvious fact that the digital network built and run by Ackerman was an abject failure, your website creates the false impression Ackerman’s work on the ‘Second Amendment to the Constitution’ and ‘Second Amendment issues’ is endorsed by its former client–the NRA,” he wrote. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
An attorney for the NRA reiterated that in a statement provided to The Daily Beast.
“As alleged in the complaint, Ackerman McQueen continues to use the properties of the NRA and extol its relationship with the Association,” said Michael J. Collins, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the gun group. “This is likely to mask a cold reality: the NRA believes Ackerman abused the trust of the Association, took benefits to which it was not entitled, and misled NRA leadership about the value and performance of the agency’s services.”
In a statement, Ackerman McQueen responded: “This latest meritless filing represents a new low in the NRA’s ceaseless waste of its members’ dues. The NRA stopped fighting for any aspect of their members’ agenda over a year ago.Instead, they became a factory for frivolous lawsuits.”
The firm continued: “With all the smart people that saw this foolish strategy and left, the NRA’s understanding of the Second Amendment, and now apparently the First, seems to be nearing an all-time low. In light of its continual ‘shooting itself in the proverbial foot’, one can only conclude that the people who are supposedly running this apparently failing organization did not ever believe in the Constitution in the first place. The NRA continues to spend its members’ money on useless fights in an obvious attempt to deflect attention from its dwindling influence across the country.”
The NRA faces a hosts of controversies at the moment, including a recent report from ProPublica about allegations of sexual harassment against one of its senior employees. Ackerman McQueen said in a statement that they have evidence that that NRA employee, Josh Powell, harassed one of their senior employees. That statement also said their criticism of Powell appears to have played a role in the souring of their relationship with the gun group.
The NRA said in a statement that Powell denies the allegations, and that they emerged as part of an alleged effort to blackmail the gun group CEO Wayne LaPierre.
This story has been updated to include a new statement from Ackerman McQueen.