Oliver North Out As NRA President Amid Ongoing Scandal

After just a year in office, Oliver North is out as President of the National Rifle Association as the group faces an ongoing series of scandals centered around Wayne LaPierre and others.

In the wake of a controversy at the ongoing annual convention of the National Rifle Association involving allegations of financial improprieties by Chairman Wayne LaPierre and his associates, Oliver North, who has been President of the NRA for roughly the past year has been ousted as President of the organization even as the allegations that led to conflict between him and LaPierre continue to hang in the air:

INDIANAPOLIS — Oliver L. North announced on Saturday that he would not serve a second term as the National Rifle Association’s president, deciding to step down as the organization grappled with a bitter dispute over its future and its worst leadership crisis in decades.

He made the announcement as the N.R.A. faced a challenge from the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who had opened an investigation into the gun group’s tax-exempt status.

On Friday, Ms. James’s office sent letters instructing the N.R.A. and affiliated entities, including its charitable foundation, to preserve relevant financial records. Some of the N.R.A.’s related businesses also received subpoenas, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry. A lawyer for the N.R.A. confirmed the investigation.

The move by Ms. James came amid a stunning internal power strugglethat took a major turn on Saturday when Mr. North, in a letter that was read on his behalf at the N.R.A.’s convention, said he would not be renominated. He and insurgents in the N.R.A. this past week had been trying to oust Wayne LaPierre, the group’s longtime chief executive.

“It was a great privilege to serve as your president this past year,” Mr. North said in the letter. He added that the N.R.A. had “a clear crisis” that it needed to deal with “immediately and responsibly,” and that he had recently created a committee to investigate financial improprieties.

His move appeared to end the struggle against Mr. LaPierre, though it was likely that their dispute would be fully resolved at a board meeting on Monday. Supporters of Mr. North spoke up during a contentious gathering after his statement, but Mr. LaPierre appeared to hold substantial support in the room.

Their standoff began on Wednesday, when Mr. North urged Mr. LaPierre to resign. On Thursday, Mr. LaPierre sent a letter to the board in which he accused Mr. North of threatening to release damaging information about him and other executives if he refused to step down.

The shadow cast by Ms. James’s looming action had in some ways spurred the confrontation unfolding at the N.R.A.’s annual convention.

Even before her election last year, Ms. James had promised to investigate the organization’s tax status, and had told Ebony magazine that the N.R.A. held itself “out as a charitable organization” but was actually “a terrorist organization.”

She has special jurisdiction over the group because it was chartered in New York. Her office has broad authority to investigate nonprofits and can seek a number of potential remedies against them in court; a previous inquiry by Ms. James’s predecessors led to the shuttering of President Trump’s charitable foundation, a far smaller enterprise.

“The N.R.A. will fully cooperate with any inquiry into its finances,” William A. Brewer III, the N.R.A.’s outside counsel, said in a statement on Saturday. “The N.R.A. is prepared for this, and has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance.”

The controversy between LaPierre and North apparently involved the organization’s ties to an advertising firm that has been its primary public relations contact for years and Mr. LaPierre’s contacts with that firm:

N.R.A. officials, including Mr. LaPierre, have said that its most prominent contractor, the Oklahoma-based ad firm Ackerman McQueen, did not comply with its requests to turn over financial records, a contention that Ackerman has contested.

The dispute led the N.R.A. to sue Ackerman earlier this month, and the lawsuit is at the heart of the infighting. Mr. North is an employee of Ackerman and is paid “millions of dollars annually” by the company, Mr. LaPierre told the board on Thursday. Mr. North had sided with Ackerman in the legal battle, alarming some board members.

The legal fight has crippled a longstanding relationship between the N.R.A. and Ackerman, two organizations that are tightly intertwined. Ackerman came up with memorable lines such as Charlton Heston’s proclamation that his gun would have to be pried “from my cold, dead hands.” Ackerman also developed NRATV, a controversial online streaming network that had aroused concerns among some board members for straying too far from gun rights. The network’s personalities warned of race wars and portrayed the talking trains in the children’s show “Thomas & Friends” in Ku Klux Klan hoods.

There are a number of potential issues that could arise in Ms. James’s inquiry. Earlier this year, The Times reported that the N.R.A.’s affiliated charity, the N.R.A. Foundation, had transferred more than $100 million since 2012 to the N.R.A., and that it also lent the N.R.A. $5 million in 2017. Donations to the N.R.A. Foundation are tax-deductible, while those to the N.R.A. are not, and the transfers concerned some tax experts.
The Times also reported that the N.R.A. had paid $18 million since 2010 to a company that produces “Under Wild Skies,” a hunting show on NRATV. Tyler Schropp, the N.R.A.’s advancement director, had a stake in the production company until at least 2017; nonprofit rules require a cautious approach for transactions that benefit key executives.
The Wall Street Journal has reported on multiple transactions benefiting firms with ties to N.R.A. officials, while The New Yorker further scrutinized internal conflicts within the organization.

The New York Times Danny Haskim provides further detail about the conflict between LaPierre and North and the controversies that led to today’s ouster of North as President, but the best way of putting all this is that problems seem to be multiplying for the group. In addition to this conflict and the investigation by the New York Attorney General, the NRA also faces the possibility of an investigation by authorities in Virginia, where its headquarters are located, as well as potential criminal and civil investigations by Federal authorities to the extent that there are any allegations of violations of Federal law in the ongoing and evolving story. In addition to all of that, the NRA was also the focus of an investigation related to the efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election that recently led Marina Butina, a self-identified Russian agent, to plead guilty to charges related to those efforts for which she was recently sentenced to 18 months in a Federal prison. Obviously, all of this has had a serious impact on the organization over the past year and now appears to be breaking out into the open in a way that could do real harm to the NRA as an effective organization.

In any case, it appears that with North’s resignation LaPierre and his associates have won this early round but that hardly matters given the fact that the investigations themselves are continuing and, most likely going to expand. This is a situation where North appears to have been on the side of those who recognized that there was something very rotten going on at the NRA and sought to do something about it. For now. LaPierre appears to have won this battle but the war continues and he still has plenty to worry about.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Frankly I’m ashamed I even financially supported an organization that would allow a traitor and criminal like North to be a leader….

    Wasn’t surprised when the other stuff came out about the NRA after that selection…

    Sucks too because the NRA used to be good about spreading/teaching reasonable firearm safety. Which frankly the country could use a whole lot more of.

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  2. @Matt:

    Ironically North appears to be the good guy here. He’s the one who was leading the charge against LaPierre and his cohorts.

  3. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Shh. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake.

  4. Gustopher says:

    Not sure where Ollie can go from here. Are there other organizations dedicated to selling weapons to terrorists?

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    Bwhahahahaha. Confusion to our enemies.

    Reports so far are pretty sketchy. Smells more like two grifters fighting over the spoils. I mean, seriously, North couldn’t see LaPierre was a con man when he took the job? Seems more likely North thought he was entitled to a bigger share. Or maybe he knows enough about laundering Russian money into the Trump campaign to know it’s time to jump ship.

    On the other hand, perhaps I’m being too cynical. This is the NRA, the one place in the western world where someone can say, ‘I’m a gun rights advocate from Putin’s Russia.’ and people don’t look at her funny and move further down the bar.

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher: Trumpsky just announced, not coincidentally in a speech to the NRA, that he’s pulling us out of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, so I expect shortly there will be a few more organizations selling arms to terrorists than there are right now.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:

    A gift to the gun industry, whose sales have tanked.

  8. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I said in 2016 that if I was running the NRA I’d be supporting the Republican in public and the Democrat under the table. Barack Kenya Malcolm X McMuslim was probably the best thing that ever happened to them.

  9. Teve says:

    @gVOR08:

    Reports so far are pretty sketchy. Smells more like two grifters fighting over the spoils.

    I tried to read an article this morning on what was going on and it was confusing about which one was the bigger crook. So I went back to reading this awesome new novel I just got (The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O) and figured I’d wait a week or two and there’d be a huge feature in one of the magazines I follow explaining the whole thing in depth.

  10. Teve says:

    “Democrats are going to take your guns!!!” is very similar to “The world will end on _______!!!”

  11. Moosebreath says:

    My preference would be for the North-LaPierre dispute to be resolved with live ammunition.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    Mayor Steve Vaus: “This is not Poway.”
    Today it is…

    Pud: “It looks like a hate crime. Hard to believe. Hard to believe.”
    He doesn’t have a clue.

  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Teve:

    Agreed

    @Mister Bluster:

    And in Sunnyvale, a man crashes his car into a group of people because he believed some were Muslim. And they claim that the terrorism comes from the left and from immigrants.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The gunman, identified as a white 19-year-old man, used an AR-style weapon and opened fire on the people inside the synagogue,

    A day that ends in “y” brought to you by the gun culture nursed by the NRA and Republicans.

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  15. Andrew says:

    This reminds me of the which came first the Chicken or the Egg?

    Did the NRA first get undermined by traitors and power hungry sociopaths, in which Russia latched onto…
    or did Russia long ago undermine America’s largest pro-Second Amendment group by using subterfuge and Russian money to have power hungry, sociopathic, idiots ( Read: patriots) help undermine their own cause? Just like Trump?

    Either way, the NRA is NOT what it once was.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    A gift to the gun industry, whose sales have tanked.

    That’s because there’s a Republican in the White House…the next time a Democrat gets there, sales will spike…

    …it was confusing about which one was the bigger crook.

    That’s not surprising…they’re both huge crooks…

    My preference would be for the North-LaPierre dispute to be resolved with live ammunition.

    A pay-per-view televised duel…where’s my credit card…

    @Andrew: Ollie North becoming involved with the NRA was the perfect combination…a traitor joining a traitorous organization…

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Ollie North becoming involved with the NRA was the perfect combination…a traitor joining a traitorous organization…

    Not only a traitor, but an illegal arms dealer.

  18. Andrew says:

    @An Interested Party:

    That is what I mean, though.

    Did North seek out the position and willingly do this…or was North picked for the position knowingly he and his character could be counted on…and it’s in question if he was aware or not?

    Hanlon’s Razor…I do not know how that may apply to those who are serial bad people. Are they dumb, bad people…useful idiots? Or are they sociopaths with no allegiance to country? Or Both?
    Sociopathic, ignorant, greedy, immoral idiots.

    I think I just answered my own question.
    Lock Him Up!!!

  19. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    The problem of the NRA is that the responsible gun-owner does not bring profits. A person that has a rifle for sport or hunting, or occasional self-defense will not buy enough guns. They need these weirdos that buy dozens and dozens of guns because Maxime Waters will take away their guns.

  20. Warren Peese says:

    The NRA is going to have to decide whether they’ll be a National Rifle Association and stay on American soil or go the unpatriotic route and nename themselves to the International Rifle Association and take money from Putin’s hacks.

  21. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Also it’s important for many people to own multiple guns so that when it all collapses into the tumult, I know whose door to kick in so I can get me a gun (or 3).

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker: Loved a line I heard years ago on the subject of survivalists. Guy said that if civilization really collapsed these pretend tough guys would run into actually tough guys who would turn their lily white arses into preppy jerky.

  23. charon says:

    The New Yorker has a very lengthy piece on the NRA. I have only read part so far, looks like lots of grifting, like most of the money raised goes to personal enrichment.

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/secrecy-self-dealing-and-greed-at-the-nra

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Warren Peese: Visited your site. Had no idea that “classical debate” could be conducted in single incoherent sentences. Always thought it was harder.

  25. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Thoughts and prayers.

    BWHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAAHAAAA!

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    screwed this up. will repost

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @gVOR08:..if civilization really collapsed these pretend tough guys…aka: pussies…

    For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II
    …beside a stream there was a dwelling. Blackened by time and rain, the hut was piled up on all sides with taiga rubbish—bark, poles, planks. If it hadn’t been for a window the size of my backpack pocket, it would have been hard to believe that people lived there. But they did, no doubt about it…. Our arrival had been noticed, as we could see.

  28. Tyrell says:

    @Matt: I am not some sort of gun “nut” as such. I only own one rifle and it is basically unusable except maybe as a history lesson*. I have some friends and relatives who are members of the NRA. At one time the NRA seemed to be more of a support group and public interest association. It provided training and information. Then it got into politics. Perhaps it is time for a new organization that helps and speaks for gun owners.
    I used to watch the “American Sportsman” often. I fish some, but just small stuff – pond catfish and bass. I would like to try my hand at bow hunting, particularly boar.
    * I have always wanted a flintlock.