National Rifle Association President Oliver North won’t seek reelection amid a plague of scandals enveloping the gun group.
The NRA’s yearly convention is generally a time for the gun group to pat itself on the back while whining about feeling threatened by those seeking stronger gun control. But on Saturday morning in Indianapolis, the convention opened with a somber tone. The organization’s First Vice President Richard Childress read a letter from North ― who was not in attendance ― to say that the retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel will not seek reelection. Childress said he was not aware of the decision until the night before.
“I hope to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I’m now informed that that will not happen,” North wrote in the letter.
On Friday night, infighting within the NRA hit a climax as top executive Wayne LaPierre called for the removal of North after saying the president was attempting to oust him by releasing “damaging” information, The Associated Press reported.
“The extortion was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA,” LaPierre wrote in a letter to the board. “Alarmed and disgusted, I refused the offer.”
In his own letter read aloud Saturday, North said board members “expressed concern about the amount of money the NRA was paying to the Brewer law firm.”
The removal of North comes after a damning new report by The Trace in conjunction with The New Yorker that outlined how the lobbying group has willfully obscured where its money goes, made dubious payout arrangements and found itself deep in the pockets of public relations firm Ackerman McQueen.
Following The Trace’s report, Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action announced that the gun safety group Everytown had filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service over the NRA’s tax-exempt status.
If the allegations are true, North warned in the letter, “The NRA’s nonprofit status is threatened.”
“Wayne LaPierre works for the NRA,” Marion Hammer, a former NRA president, told the AP. “His loyalty is to the NRA. Oliver North is employed by Ackerman McQueen, a vendor of the NRA. And it is clear that his loyalty is to Ackerman McQueen.”
Another NRA casualty was Steve Hart, a longtime lawyer for the board. He was suspended from his position Saturday shortly before North’s announcement, The Daily Beast reported.
These devastating blows to the gun group are little surprise to those following its downward trajectory: In 2017, the group reported a loss of $55 million in income as membership plummeted. More recently, a HuffPost investigation found that an NRA official was in contact with a prominent Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist in an attempt to cast doubt on the facts of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 people dead. The NRA declined to say whether it fired that official.
Enjoy the rest of the convention.
This story has been updated with additional information.