As the National Rifle Association faces government probes and a donor backlash over reports of self dealing and wanton spending by insiders, new legal filings allege that CEO Wayne LaPierre and his allies sought to quash an internal review of the group’s finances.
The accusations are contained in a counterclaim filed in New York State court on Thursday by Oliver North, the ex-NRA president who was ousted and subsequently sued by the organization after trying to remove LaPierre from power during the NRA’s annual meeting in April. North had threatened to reveal details, since leaked online, of LaPierre’s private jet travel and luxury wardrobe. LaPierre pre-empted his disclosures and booted North, instead.
In the new suit, North denied that he had engaged in a coup attempt against LaPierre. Rather, the filings state, “North had a fiduciary duty as President of the NRA and a member of the Board of Directors to responsibly address allegations of financial misconduct,” which the suit indicates he learned about from investigative reporting by The Trace and The New Yorker.
The lawsuit adds: “Each time that North raised concerns about potential financial misconduct and tried to retain professionals to correct any wrongdoing, North’s efforts were thwarted by LaPierre and [NRA outside counsel William] Brewer. No investigations were started.” North claims that he formed a crisis management committee to address the reports. LaPierre had it shut down.
North, through his attorneys, claims that LaPierre removed him as president without first consulting the board of directors. The filing also alludes to reputed retaliations carried out by LaPierre and Brewer as sweetheart contracts and dubious payments at the NRA spilled into public view. On April 22, North alleges, a lawyer representing the NRA’s directors sent documents describing alleged financial misconduct by LaPierre to the NRA’s audit committee. Two hours later, according to the new filings, LaPierre had the lawyer fired.
Another issue that drove the rift between North and LaPierre is the millions of dollars and fees the NRA has accrued with Brewer’s law firm.
On five separate occasions this winter and spring, North’s filing states, he requested a review of Brewer’s billing. North claims he was either ignored or outright denied every time. Three of the requests went to LaPierre, one to the general counsel, and one to the audit committee.
North’s countersuit characterizes him not as one conservative celebrity seeking to wrest control from another, but instead as a diligent fiduciary simply performing his obligations. LaPierre, in his telling, would brook no due diligence that might challenge his iron grip on the organization he has led for decades. The filing states: “LaPierre — demonstrating his total dictatorial control over the NRA, its Audit Committee, its Executive Committee, its Nominating Committee, and its Board of Directors — stopped all of North’s inquiries and prevented others at the NRA from looking into the concerns that North raised.”
Read the full counterclaim here: