(Bloomberg) -- Former National Rifle Association President Oliver North accused the group’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, of defaming him, forcing him out of the gun rights group and retaliating after North raised questions about lavish spending and financial mismanagement.
In a court filing Thursday, North said the NRA falsely accused him of fomenting a failed “coup” to get LaPierre, once a “long-term, close personal friend,” to step down. Instead, North lost the power struggle and resigned in April after saying he had quietly tried to protect the NRA and its mission.
LaPierre, aided by the NRA’s outside counsel, William Brewer, has since used adverse publicity to “undermine North and his efforts to address allegations of financial misconduct at the NRA,” according to the filing.
North is responding to an NRA lawsuit filed last month in New York state court in which the gun group claims he’s not entitled to legal fees. North says the NRA’s bylaws require the association to cover fees stemming from a May 3 inquiry by the Senate Finance Committee and any other queries he may receive from law enforcement or investigative bodies about the gun rights group.
The NRA has been in turmoil since North left his unpaid presidency. It suspended its chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, after accusing him of joining North and the NRA’s former advertising and public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc., in the failed coup. Cox has left the association, and Ackerman McQueen cut ties after LaPierre accused it of breach of contract.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the NRA’s finances. The group claims in a lawsuit that the state illegally discouraged banks and insurers from doing business with it. The NRA also sued Ackerman McQueen, which produced the now-defunct NRATV. The advertising firm countersued.
North said he objected in April to LaPierre receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing, private jet travel, and other personal benefits paid by Ackerman McQueen. He also sought an independent review of Brewer’s law firm, which North said was billing the NRA $2.9 million a month in fees.
Ackerman McQueen hired North in 2018 after he left Fox News, when LaPierre “urged and convinced” him to take on the new role. However, Ackerman McQueen has been “unable to pay” North since late June. The NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen “appears to be motivated by Brewer’s long-simmering animosity toward his current in-laws, who run Ackerman McQueen,” according to North’s filing.
“The NRA views this as a misguided attempt to deflect from reality -- Col. North played a central role in an extortion scheme that caused the issues for which he now seeks indemnification,” Brewer, the outside NRA attorney said in an email. “The NRA will not look the other way when it appears that crimes against the association have been committed by people motivated by their own self-interests.”
(Updates with details of lawsuit and NRA attorney’s response.)
To contact the reporters on this story: David Voreacos in New York at email@example.com;Neil Weinberg in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey D Grocott at email@example.com, Joe Schneider
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.