NRA Re-Elects Embattled Leader Wayne LaPierre

(Bloomberg) -- The National Rifle Association’s board unanimously re-elected Wayne LaPierre as its chief executive officer and replaced President Oliver North amid an eruption of public squabbling and a probe into the gun-rights group’s nonprofit status.

The vote came Monday, following a weekend of drama in the group’s highest ranks, including barb trading between LaPierre and North over allegations that LaPierre had engaged in self-dealing. The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed it is investigating the NRA’s nonprofit status after the New Yorker published the allegations against LaPierre.

NRA Re-Elects Embattled Leader Wayne LaPierre

North was replaced on Monday by Carolyn D. Meadows, who had served as the second vice president of the NRA and as vice president of the NRA Foundation board.

The vote, which was held at the NRA annual meeting in Indiana, followed a battle in which LaPierre and North slung allegations of wrongdoing at each other over the financial relationship between the NRA and its advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc. The NRA sued the firm this month over billing issues.

The lawsuit is “frivolous, inaccurate and intended to cause harm to the reputation of our company,” Ackerman McQueen said in a statement. “We will defend our position and performance aggressively and look forward to continuing to serve the NRA’s membership.”

In a letter sent to NRA board members, LaPierre accused North of extortion, claiming he had threatened to send an embarrassing letter to the 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 wrote. “The letter would contain a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses.”

North did send a letter to the board’s executive committee alleging wrongful spending, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A lawyer for the NRA told the New Yorker the group “has serious concerns about the accuracy of this reporting.”

At the group’s annual meeting over the weekend, North announced he would not seek re-election and reiterated his concern about LaPierre’s financial dealings within the NRA. Monday’s re-election of LaPierre as CEO was reported earlier by American Rifleman, a publication operated by the NRA.

James, a Democrat and a vocal supporter of gun-safety laws who took office in January, said she issued subpoenas to the NRA as part of a probe into the organization’s nonprofit status. She had promised during her campaign to investigate the NRA. In an interview with Ebony magazine, she called the group “a terrorist organization.”

President Donald Trump, whose campaign got millions of dollars in donations from the NRA, slammed the New York investigation, saying in a tweet that James was trying to illegally “take down” the organization. James shot back in a tweet of her own, saying she wished Trump “would share our respect for the law.”

The New York attorney general’s office had crossed Trump even before its probe. It sued the president’s personal charity last year, accusing it of squandering donated money on business and political purposes. In March, James said Trump should pay a $5.6 million penalty on top of $2.8 million in restitution.

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