Former Congressman Allen West, a board member of the National Rifle Association, released an extraordinary statement Tuesday blasting a “cabal of cronyism” within the NRA and demanding the resignation of the organization’s longtime honcho, Wayne LaPierre.
“It sickens me to publicly make this statement,” West writes on his website, The Old School Patriot. Citing internal spending scandals that have recently spilled into public view (read: WTF Is Happening at the NRA, Explained), West decries NRA brass for what he calls the “despicable spending of members’ money.”
West trains his fire on LaPierre, revealing that he had called on the NRA Executive Vice President to step down prior to the NRA’s annual meeting in April in Indianapolis. West repeats the call in his open letter: “I do not support Wayne LaPierre continuing as the EVP/CEO of the NRA.”
A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served Florida in Congress for a single term as part of the 2010 Tea Party wave, West is a Fox News contributor and has been an NRA board member for two terms. He takes particular objection to statements by NRA higher-ups purporting to speak for the board.
The NRA’s new president, Carolyn Meadows, recently issued a statement in response to leaked details of questionable expenditures by LaPierre, declaring that the “entire board is fully aware of these issues. We have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre.” The head of the NRA’s audit board, Charles Cotton, also defended allegedly excessive billing by the gun group’s outside law firm by saying: “The board supports the work the firm is doing, the results achieved, and the value of its services. Importantly, this relationship has been reviewed, vetted and approved.”
West called these statements “outright lies,” insisting: “I have never been told, advised, informed or consulted about any of these details … and who knows how much more despicable spending of members’ money.” Such statements, West insists, “have maliciously, recklessly and purposefully put me, and uninformed Board members, in legal jeopardy.”
“There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors,” West declares. “It is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house.”
The NRA responded to West’s broadside in a lengthy joint statement by NRA president Meadows, Cotton and second vice president Willes Lee.
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It reads, in part: “It is unfortunate that certain board members have resorted to making false and misleading public statements about proceedings of the NRA board of directors.” Citing numerous public and private forums that a board member like West could have utilized to get up to speed on the NRA’s spending controversies, they write that “there is no excuse for any board member to claim they are unaware of legal and business concerns being addressed by this Association.”
The NRA leaders’ statement further suggests that West “may have been part of a failed attempt to oust Wayne LaPierre as CEO and Executive Vice President of the NRA,” adding: “We were all warned that a scorched earth campaign would ensue unless Wayne moved to withdraw the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen” — the gun group’s longtime PR firm — “and walked away from the NRA. Wayne chose the principled path – and did neither.” The statement closes with a call to “end this petty bickering immediately.”
For his part, West reveals that he has drafted a “Resolution of Concerns” that has been circulated to the NRA board. He uses his short statement to make a call for structural reform: “The NRA Board of 76 is too large and needs to be reduced to 30 or less.” West also calls for term limits for board members and for the NRA to return to its core mission: “training and education in marksmanship, shooting sports, and the defense of the Second Amendment.”
West ends his blast with a message to NRA brass. “I do not care if I draw their angst,” he writes. “My duty and responsibility is to the Members of the National Rifle Association, and my oath, since July 31, 1982, has been to the Constitution of the United States, not to any political party, person, or cabal.”