The NRA’s Leadership Is in Crisis and All We Can Say Is ‘Thoughts and Prayers’

Photo: Evan Vucci (AP)

An internecine war has broken out among the leadership at the National Rifle Association, with two repulsive human beings—Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North—attempting to pick each other off via threats, counterthreats, and accusations of extortion.

Yet not a single tear would be shed across the great United States should the NRA inevitably destroy itself from within at the hands of two such contemptible men.

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The latest salvo occurred Thursday evening, ahead of the group’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, IN, the next day, which featured a deranged speech by President Donald Trump. LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president and longtime leader, sent a letter to the group’s board of directors accusing North, the NRA president, of extorting LaPierre in an effort to oust him.

“Leaders in every walk of life must often choose: between what is true, and what is polite; between what is convenient, and what is right,” LaPierre wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

“Yesterday evening, I was forced to confront one of those defining choices—styled, in the parlance of extortionists, as an offer I couldn’t refuse. I refused it,” the letter continued. “Delivered by a member of our Board on behalf of his employer, the exhortation was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA.”

LaPierre claims that North called a senior staffer to demand that LaPierre resign or damaging information would be sent to the board to discredit the longtime NRA leader. “The letter would contain a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses,” LaPierre wrote.

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According to the Journal, North already had sent a letter to the board accusing LaPierre of charging more than $200,000 to a vendor for his wardrobe.

LaPierre then accused North, an employee of the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen Inc., of retaliating for a lawsuit the NRA filed against the firm earlier this month. Ackerman McQueen has been a longtime client of the NRA, including producing the group’s violent propaganda wing, NRATV.

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According to the Times, the firm also created the now-famous line by the late actor Charlton Heston, a former five-term NRA president who said: “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

North allegedly was paid millions of dollars to host a program on NRATV called American Heroes. LaPierre said that Ackerman McQueen had agreed to produce 12 feature-length episodes of the program within a year, but only three episodes have aired to date.

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“The NRA wrote a recent letter demanding to know what, exactly it is paying for—and what it is getting—in light of these production shortfalls,” LaPierre wrote. “AM did not respond directly, but appears to have responded indirectly by trying to oust me.”

On Saturday, North appears to have had a change of heart over the matter, saying he would not serve a second term as NRA president, the Associated Press reported. He was named president in May 2018.

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North’s latest announcement comes just ahead of a full 76-member board meeting scheduled for Monday, the Journal reported.

When North was named president last year, LaPierre called him a “legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader.” He added, “In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our president.”

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According to the AP, the NRA is “bleeding money” and faces a “series of investigations,” including allegations that Russian agents funneled millions of dollars to the 2016 Trump campaign via the organization.

“I’ve never seen the NRA this vulnerable,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt told the AP.

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