Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, has written an extraordinary letter to the board of the NRA, accusing the organization’s ceremonial president, Col. Oliver North, of both seeking his ouster and threatening to share a “damaging letter” with the NRA board if LaPierre refused to resign.
In the letter, LaPierre links the ouster threat to the NRA’s longtime PR firm, Ackerman McQueen, which the NRA recently sued for not being transparent about its spending, including on North’s multi-million-dollar NRATV contract.
The letter was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which posted it in full. (The NRA did not respond to a Rolling Stone request to confirm the document’s authenticity. Rolling Stone messages to North and to Ackerman McQueen were also not immediately returned.) The letter comes just as the NRA is celebrating its annual convention in Indianapolis, where Donald Trump delivered a keynote address on Friday.
In the letter, LaPierre writes that North’s demand for his resignation was delivered as “an offer I couldn’t refuse” in an April 24th phone call. Per LaPierre, North delivered the message: “Resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA.” LaPierre rejected the demand.
According to LaPierre, North threatened that Ackerman would unveil these allegations in its own letter to the NRA board. “I believe the purpose of the letter was to humiliate me, discredit our Association, and raise appearances of impropriety that hurt our members and the Second Amendment,” LaPierre writes. He relates that the Ackerman letter would include a “devastating account of our financial status” among other charges of impropriety.
The NRA increasingly appears in financial disarray. Rolling Stone reported last summer on legal filings in which the association complained of being blacklisted by the financial services industry, and warned that its inability access insurance and banking services could leave it “unable to exist.” Earlier this month, the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety submitted a complaint to the IRS calling for “potential revocation” of the NRA’s non-profit status, citing a litany of reported financial irregularities.
But in Friday’s letter, LaPierre alleges that North gave him an out. If LaPierre resigned and continued to support North’s tenure, the Ackerman letter “would not be sent” and LaPierre would be rewarded with an “excellent retirement.”
LaPierre writes that he sees the letter as connected to the suit that the NRA recently filed Ackerman and that rather than comply with the NRA’s request for financial transparency, the agency has “responded indirectly by trying to oust me.”
LaPierre writes that the NRA is now facing friendly fire. “When I became your Executive Vice President, I took an oath to defend the freedoms for which the NRA stands, against all adversaries and threats. It is regrettable that threats now emanate from our fiduciaries and friends,” he writes, concluding: “I believe our Board and devoted members will see this for what it is: a threat meant to intimidate and divide us. I choose to stand and fight, and hope to bring 5 million members with me.”