NRA pres­i­dent tries to oust CEO LaPierre,

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY DANNY HAKIM

Tur­moil wrack­ing the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion is threat­en­ing to turn the group’s an­nual con­ven­tion into out­right civil war, as in­sur­gents ma­neu­ver to oust Wayne LaPierre, the fore­most voice of the U.S. gun rights move­ment.

The con­fronta­tion pits LaPierre, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s long­time CEO, against its re­cently in­stalled pres­i­dent, Oliver North, the cen­tral fig­ure in the Rea­gan-era IranCon­tra af­fair, who re­mains a hero to many on the right.

Be­hind it is a widen­ing crisis in­volv­ing a le­gal bat­tle be­tween the NRA and its most in­flu­en­tial con­trac­tor, Ack­er­man McQueen, amid re­newed threats from reg­u­la­tors in New York, where the NRA is char­tered, to in­ves­ti­gate the group’s tax-ex­empt status. With con­tri­bu­tions lag­ging, the NRA faces an in­creas­ingly well-fi­nanced gun con­trol move­ment, mo­ti­vated by a string of mass shoot­ings.

North asked LaPierre to re­sign Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments re­viewed by The New York Times. He said he had also cre­ated a com­mit­tee to re­view al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­eties that threaten the NRA’s status as a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion.

LaPierre, in a sting­ing let­ter sent Thurs­day night to the NRA’s board, ac­cused North of threat­en­ing to leak dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about him and other NRA ex­ec­u­tives un­less he stepped down.

“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,” LaPierre wrote. “I re­fused it.”

Even as the NRA’s lead­er­ship tus­sled be­hind the scenes, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ad­dressed the con­ven­tion Fri­day and pro­claimed him­self a cham­pion of gun rights. In a speech that was part po­lit­i­cal rally and part pep talk, he said his administration would not rat­ify an arms treaty de­signed to reg­u­late the in­ter­na­tional sale of con­ven­tional weapons.

The NRA power strug­gle is an abrupt es­ca­la­tion of a le­gal bat­tle be­tween the or­ga­ni­za­tion and Ack­er­man McQueen. The Times re­ported ear­lier this year that prom­i­nent 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 North, who hosts an NRATV se­ries called “Amer­i­can He­roes.”

It is not clear whether North has the board sup­port to oust LaPierre, who has led the NRA for decades. Pre­vi­ously, the pres­i­dency has been a cer­e­mo­nial po­si­tion, al­though North, in doc­u­ments re­viewed by The Times, has asked for it to be a paid post. A key fac­tor will be Chris Cox, who runs the NRA’s In­sti­tute for Leg­isla­tive Ac­tion and is ef­fec­tively the group’s sec­on­drank­ing of­fi­cial.

The dis­pute rep­re­sents the NRA’s deep­est in­ter­nal crisis since a strug­gle for con­trol of the board in the late 1990s, when LaPierre and Ack­er­man were on the same side.

Wayne LaPierre

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