The National Rifle Association is in turmoil amid allegations that Oliver North, recently installed as the gun lobbying organization’s president, threatened to release damaging information about longtime CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre unless he agreed to resign.
In a letter to the NRA board of executives on Thursday, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, LaPierre accused North of extorting him and pressuring him to resign over alleged financial improprieties.
“The extortion was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA,” LaPierre wrote. “Alarmed and disgusted, I refused the offer.”
LaPierre alleged that the NRA’s longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc., had drafted a letter with damaging information about him and would send it to the board if he refused to resign.
North, who hosts a documentary show on NRATV that’s produced by Ackerman McQueen, reportedly relayed this information to LaPierre’s staff on Wednesday, claiming the letter would be “bad” for LaPierre.
The letter would be “a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses,” according to La Pierre.
North also said Ackerman McQueen wouldn’t send the letter if LaPierre agreed to resign, LaPierre wrote to the board.
“And, if I supported Col. North’s continued tenure as President, he stated that he could ‘negotiate’ an ‘excellent retirement’ for me,” LaPierre wrote.
LaPierre also said he had been pressured to withdraw the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, filed over concerns that it over-billed the organization and had resisted providing financial records.
Ackerman McQueen did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
In his own letter to the board later on Thursday, North said he would create a special committee to investigate allegations of financial impropriety, including “allegations of financial misconduct related to Mr. LaPierre,” according to The New York Times.
“I did this because I am deeply concerned that these allegations of financial improprieties could threaten our nonprofit status,” North wrote.
The confrontation between LaPierre, who has led the NRA for nearly 30 years, and North, a former Marine Corps officer and a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, falls during the gun rights group’s annual meeting, which is being held in Indianapolis. President Donald Trump spoke at the convention on Friday.
The NRA’s 76-member board is scheduled to meet on Monday.
LaPierre has been one of the most prominent faces of the NRA in recent years, often speaking out after mass shootings to deflect the blame from the powerful gun lobby and wide availability of guns in the U.S.
He called for an increase in “effective, trained armed security” at schools after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said a week after the shooting at the Conservative Political Action Conference, using his oft-repeated ― and debated ― catchphrase.
LaPierre also blamed school shootings on “elites” and “socialists” in the U.S. who support gun control measures.