NRA president Oliver North is out after major infighting within the gun-rights organization

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and president Oliver North

In what should be a celebratory weekend for the NRA — the organization’s annual convention is currently going on and members heard from the president himself on Friday — the gun rights group has seen infighting lead to a major change in leadership.

NRA President Oliver North announced on Saturday that he will not be seeking reelection. North didn’t even make the announcement himself. Second Vice President Richard Childress announced North’s decision to a crowd at the group’s national convention in Indiana.

“Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I’m now informed that that will not happen,” Childress said, reading from a letter written by North.

North went on to say in his letter that he has been forced out of the organization due to his allegations that others in the organization participated in financial improprieties. North’s term as president ends on Monday.

North leaving the NRA comes after he had reportedly called for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre to resign.

LaPierre has been the National Rifle Association’s CEO since 1991. He sent a letter this week to NRA board members warning that North was trying to force him out. He indicated that North called one of his senior staff members with a warning. LaPierre relayed that warning in his communication to board members as saying that an “allegedly damaging letter” documenting improprieties of a financial nature would be sent to the board unless he “were to promptly resign.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the central point of contention involved the NRA’s advertising firm:

The fight stems in part from a long-simmering dispute between the NRA and its longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc., which resulted in a lawsuit filed by the NRA earlier this month. In the suit, the group claimed Ackerman McQueen had refused to provide records justifying its billings. Ackerman McQueen has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “inaccurate.”

LaPierre’s letter said that other people have now also warned him that he should “withdraw the NRA lawsuit against AM [Ackerman McQueen] or be smeared.” The CEO reportedly said that the damaging information North is threatening to leak is supposedly connected to himself and other NRA executives.

The LaPierre letter charged that North has “contractual and financial loyalties to AM,” implying a conflict of interest.

A report in the New York Times states that the lawsuit filed against Ackerman says the company might have overbilled the NRA and that North was conflicted in his duties because Ackerman paid him. It said North had refused to provide a copy of his contract with Ackerman to the gun rights organization. The suit also claimed that Ackerman had failed to provide financial records as part of a review of contractors it is conducting amid ongoing governmental threats of aggressive regulatory action.

North has been the organization’s president for less than a year. Following LaPierre’s letter, North had reportedly advised the NRA board that he was forming a committee to investigate financial improprieties. The Times has reported that certain members of the NRA board “had grown dismayed at the performance of Ackerman because of its NRATV online media service, which has drifted into right-wing politics far beyond gun rights. Ackerman employs Mr. North, who hosts an NRATV series called ‘American Heroes.'”

The NRA presidency has historically been a ceremonial position. However, The Times had reviewed documents showing that North had asked for a salary.

The annual NRA convention is currently taking place in Indianapolis. President Trump and Vice President Pence both addressed attendees on Friday. Trump spoke for an hour, during which he spoke about his support for the Second Amendment and he announced that he is removing the United States from the UN Arms Trade Treaty.

Victor Rantala

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