The tantalizing leaks have spilled out in the weeks since the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Indianapolis devolved into civil war.
Amid anxiety over falling revenue and mounting legal trouble has come news that the gun group’s longtime chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, billed $275,000 for purchases at the Zegna luxury men’s wear boutique in Beverly Hills. Its largely ceremonial president, Oliver L. North, had a contract worth millions of dollars a year. And a litany of payments benefited prominent officials, like the $60,000 for advertising on a TV show featuring the rock musician and N.R.A. board member Ted Nugent.
But behind the internecine squabbling lie deeper financial problems. A review of tax records by The New York Times shows that, to steady its finances, the powerful lobbying group has increasingly relied on cash infusions and other transactions involving its affiliated foundation — at least $206 million worth since 2010.
The role of the foundation is among the issues being examined in a new investigation into the N.R.A.’s tax-exempt status by the New York attorney general, Letitia James. The N.R.A. and the charity received separate letters last month from Ms. James’s office ordering them to preserve pertinent records, according to several people who had seen them.
At issue for investigators, tax experts say, would be whether that money was being used for charitable purposes, as required by law, and not to help finance the N.R.A.’s political activities.