'It was a delicious con': NRA insider reveals how they used donor cliques to swindle cash
Wayne and Susan LaPierre -- via Facebook

In the new book Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA, reporter Tim Mak revealed a strange story about former NRA boss Wayne LaPierre's wife, Susan LaPierre.

In a bizarre tale, Mak revealed Mrs. LaPierre used her influence and the NRA's cash to create cliques among donors and their wives. According to the book, Mrs. LaPierre created an off-shoot called the Women's Leadership Forum (WLF) that funneled money from the NRA to lavish events.

"The organization was centered on events that flaunted wealth. Members would gather for tea at the Salamander Resort, a posh country getaway just outside the capital, for example," writes Mak. "One attendee recalled being struck by the scene of WLF members writing $50,000 checks, many of them spending money earned by someone else."

"High-dollar donors were extravagantly wined and dined by Susan and her aides, but the joke was on them," the book described. "It was their donated money being spent. 'It was a delicious con,' said one NRA insider."

She used jealousy to manipulate the donors, taking some out for dinners with NRA bigwigs. Some WLF would hear about it and be filled with envy. They grew desperate to curry favor with Susan.

One of Mak's sources recalled an event where the WLF women were given brooches with stones that would indicate their level of donation, then segregated by their stone color.

"The sapphire brooch indicated a gift of at least $50,000;" the book explained. "Emerald meant at least $100,000; ruby meant a contribution of at least half a million dollars; and the coveted diamond brooch showed that a member and her spouse had contributed at least one million dollars to the National Rifle Association. There was a competitiveness about the brooches."

Then there were the fights about who had the greatest proximity to Susan's table at events. One auction event even sold the head table, sitting with the donor and 10 friends with Susan drinking champagne at a big WLF event. It sold for $25,000.

"Those who were associated with the WLF and later departed would compare it to, among other things, an abusive relationship—relationship—one in which you could rationalize a situation while you were in it, but it became repulsive once you put a little distance in between," the book described.

There are other stories about Mrs. LaPierre that flow through the book, including her demand for an ambassador position in Donald Trump's new administration. She never got it.

Mak's new book Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA is on sale now.