The civil war threatening to rip apart the National Rifle Association spilled into public view today at the gun lobby group’s annual meeting.
Reports of a clash between NRA president Oliver North and longtime NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre have been brewing for some time, with The New York Times reporting that a group of “insurgents” within the NRA were bent on overthrowing LaPierre on Friday.
But at the NRA’s annual meeting on Saturday, it appeared clear that the NRA CEO had triumphed. North was conspicuously absent from the gathering, which featured speeches from US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
NRA board member Richard Childress read out a letter from North. The statement alleged that the NRA is in the midst of a “clear crisis” due to in-fighting and murky financial practices. The NRA president, perhaps best known for his role in the Iran Contra scandal, also announced that he will not serve a second term.
NPR reporter Tim Mak tweeted that the audience of NRA members remained “incredibly silent” as Childress read North’s letter.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Oklahoma-based public relations firm Ackerman McQueen is at the center of the battle between North and LaPierre. The NRA sued its longtime ad agency in early April, alleging improper billing practices. Complicating matters, North reportedly has a contract with Ackerman McQueen.
Dana Loesch, the NRA’s controversial spokeswoman, is also technically employed by Ackerman McQueen, according to The New Yorker. Loesch herself hasn’t addressed any bad blood between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen, tweeting that “NRA members are not divided” on Friday.
Despite Loesch’s assertions, things at the NRA heated up behind the scenes on Thursday, when LaPierre penned a letter to the NRA board, accusing North of extortion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal had previously reported that North had previously told the board that the CEO dropped $200,000 on wardrobe purchases, only to charge the bill to a vendor.
Despite the increasingly public nature of the NRA’s internal struggles, the gun lobby group continues to insist on social media that it’s primary enemies are external, tweeting “Never in the history of the NRA have so many powerful forces attacked us on so many different fronts.”
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