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NRA Upheaval: President Oliver North Resigns As Outside Investigations Begin

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the NRA Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis, Saturday, April 27, 2019. On Saturday, retired Lt. Col. Oliver North has announced that he will not serve a second term as president of the NRA amid inner turmoil in the gun-rights group. (Michael Conroy/AP)
National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the NRA Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis, Saturday, April 27, 2019. On Saturday, retired Lt. Col. Oliver North has announced that he will not serve a second term as president of the NRA amid inner turmoil in the gun-rights group. (Michael Conroy/AP)

With David Folkenflik

The NRA in crisis. Infighting among its top officials, red ink and a burst of government investigations. We discuss the fallout and the future of the NRA.


Mike Spies, staff writer at The Trace, an independent news publication covering gun policy in the United States. The Trace was funded by Bloomberg. (@mikespiesnyc)

Stephen Gutowski, staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. (@StephenGutowski)

Rob Pincus, owner of Integrity, Consistency, Efficiency Training Company and developer of the Combat Focus Shooting Program. NRA member. (@PincusRob)

From The Reading List

The Trace: “Lawsuit Targets FEC’s Failure to Act on NRA Campaign Finance Complaints” — “A campaign finance watchdog and gun safety group are suing the Federal Election Commission for its failure to act on multiple complaints alleging that the National Rifle Association unlawfully coordinated with political candidates over several election cycles, as first reported by The Trace.

“The lawsuit, filed on April 24 by The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that monitors campaign spending, and Giffords, a gun violence prevention group, accuses the FEC of ignoring four separate complaints detailing the gun rights organization’s alleged use of shell corporations to support seven candidates for federal office, including President Donald Trump.

“‘We’re asking a court to tell the agency to take action to uphold the law,’ Brendan Fischer, the CLC’s director, told The Trace. ‘The NRA has engaged in this covert scheme over the last three election cycles, and it’s vital the FEC do its job so these illicit schemes don’t continue through 2020.’ ”

Washington Free Beacon: “Allen West Says NRA Board Voted for LaPierre, Others in Voice Vote” — “On Wednesday, National Rifle Association board member Lt. Col. (ret) Allen West shed more light on the election of the group’s officers during a closed-door session of the board’s meeting.

“‘The new slate of officers for the National Rifle Association was decided upon, and nominated by, the NRA Board of Directors nominating committee,’ West said in a post on his personal website. ‘There were no nominations from the floor when these names were put forth. With no opposing nominations, the vote was done by acclamation, not roll call vote. This is similar to passing a piece of legislation by voice vote.’

“The NRA announced on Monday that Wayne LaPierre and other officers were elected unanimously by the board. The elections were the only publicly disclosed information to come out of the closed-door executive session, where the board spent most of its Monday meeting.”

The Trace: “Secrecy, Self-Dealing, and Greed at the NRA” — “This winter, members of the National Rifle Association — elk hunters in Montana, skeet shooters in upstate New York, concealed-carry enthusiasts in Jacksonville — might have noticed a desperate tone in the organization’s fundraising efforts. In a letter from early March, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s top executive, warned that liberal regulators were threatening to destroy the organization. ‘We’re facing an attack that’s unprecedented not just in the history of the NRA but in the entire history of our country,’ he wrote. ‘The Second Amendment cannot survive without the NRA, and the NRA cannot survive without your help right now.’

“LaPierre is right that the NRA is troubled; in recent years, it has run annual deficits of as much as $40 million. It is not unusual for nonprofits to ask prospective donors to help forestall disaster. What is unusual is the extent to which such warnings have become the central activity of the NRA. Even as the association has reduced spending on its avowed core mission — gun education, safety, and training — to less than 10 percent of its total budget, it has substantially increased its spending on messaging. The NRA is now mainly a media company, promoting a lifestyle built around loving guns and hating anyone who might take them away.

“On NRATV, the organization’s programming network, the popular host Grant Stinchfield might appear in a ‘Socialist Tears’ T-shirt, taking a sledgehammer to a television set cycling through liberal news shows. The platform’s Twitter account circulates videos of the spokesperson Dana Loesch, a former Breitbart News editor who has said that mainstream journalists are ‘the rat bastards of the earth’ and deserve to be ‘curb-stomped.’ Over menacing images of masked rioters, she asserts that the only way to stop the left is to ‘fight its violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.’ A lawyer and activist called Colion Noir, whose real name is Collins Idehen, Jr., also has a large following. After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, Noir appeared in a video chiding ‘all the kids from Parkland getting ready to use your First Amendment to attack everyone else’s Second Amendment.’ ”

Washington Free Beacon: “Marathon NRA Board Meeting Ends With Few Publicly Announced Changes” — “A nine-and-a-half-hour-long National Rifle Association board of directors meeting ended Monday night with few publicly announced changes to the leadership or operation of the organization.

“The meeting ran almost entirely as a closed-door executive session. Only the very beginning and the very end of the meeting were open to regular NRA members. The session was restricted to board members and select NRA staff. Details of exactly what transpired have not been made public.

“When the Washington Free Beacon asked newly elected NRA second vice president Willes Lee about what decisions had been made by the board during its closed-door session or for insight on when those decisions would be made public, he said he could not talk about what transpired and referred further questions about the session to NRA secretary and general counsel John Frazer. When the Free Beacon spoke to Mr. Frazer, he said he could not comment and referred further questions to NRA spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam.”

Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.