April 29, 2019

Monday is Oliver North's last day as president of the National Rifle Association, after an unusually public internal struggle evidently won by NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre. North announced Saturday he wouldn't seek the traditional second one-year term as president because the NRA board opposed him. Two days earlier, LaPierre had told the board that North tried to oust him by threatening to expose "a devastating account" of financial other alleged malfeasance.

North was absent from Saturday's meeting of NRA members, and near the end, "some members challenged efforts to adjourn and pushed to question the board about controversies involving its financial management, the relationship with its longtime public relations firm, and details of what North sought to raise about alleged misspending, sexual harassment, and other mismanagement," The Associated Press reports. Board members objected.

The meeting devolved into an intense 45-minute debate "over whether the NRA's financial woes should be discussed in public" and "a resolution calling for the resignation of LaPierre," reports Brian Freskos at The New Yorker. "The resolution, put forward by a member from Pennsylvania, accused LaPierre of having 'squelched and ignored' issues raised nearly 20 years ago regarding Ackerman McQueen," the NRA's longtime public relations firm, which it is now suing. NRA members eventually approved the NRA leadership's motion to move the discussions to Monday's private board meeting.

And not all NRA members are upset by the drama and allegations of financial impropriety. "It just sounds like any other corporation we know of," Jeannette Sharp, who runs a shooting range in Louisiana, told The Washington Post on Sunday.

The NRA faces a potentially existential threat from New York's attorney general, who announced an investigation into the NRA's tax-exempt status on Saturday. You can read more about decades of alleged self-dealing and sweetheart deals among NRA leadership, Ackerman McQueen, and other vendors, in a recent joint investigation from The New Yorker and The Trace. Peter Weber

January 31, 2019

The National Rifle Association is distancing itself from a controversial December 2015 trip to Moscow by several prominent NRA leaders and members, telling The New York Times on Monday that NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre "was opposed to the trip" and forbade staff members from going. LaPierre convinced the NRA president at the time, Allan Cors, to drop out of the trip, NRA lawyer William Brewer III said in a statement Wednesday, "in order that the group was not viewed as representing the NRA."

"Given Mr. LaPierre's power within the organization, it is unclear how such a trip would have proceeded at all despite his opposition to it," the Times notes. And in fact, ABC News reports, "internal NRA emails and photos posted on social media" appear to show that the NRA "was significantly involved in planning it."

"It's not credible for the NRA to claim that they played no official role in the 2015 Moscow trip," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told ABC News on Tuesday. Wyden is heading one of at least four inquiries into the NRA's ties to Russia, focused on whether the gun-rights group illegally used Russian money to help President Trump's campaign and influence the 2016 election. The Moscow trip was organized by Maria Butina, a Russian who pleaded guilty to trying to help Moscow use the NRA to influence American politics, and former NRA President David Keene.

Internal emails show that the NRA paid for at least Keene's travel expenses and provided official NRA "gifts" for the delegation's Russian hosts. The NRA members met with Butina's alleged Kremlin handler, Russian Central Bank deputy governor Alexander Torshin, plus Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozi. And Torshin had dangled a possible interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin before Keene, according to an email obtained by The Daily Beast. Read more about the emails and NRA tensions over the trip at ABC News and The Daily Beast. Peter Weber

May 7, 2018

Oliver North, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, will become the new president of the National Rifle Association, the organization announced Monday.

North was a prominent figure in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s and was convicted on three felony counts related to the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to benefit the right-wing rebel Contras group in Nicaragua. The convictions were later reversed, and the charges dismissed.

He has since become a Fox News commentator and author and is already on the board of the NRA. He will reportedly resign from his Fox News position immediately before taking over at the NRA. Current NRA President Pete Brownell will depart "within a few weeks," and North will step in; Brownell has chosen not to seek a second term as president.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's CEO, called North a "legendary warrior for American freedom" and praised the "unflinching" attitude North has taken throughout his career.

"I am honored to have been selected by the NRA Board to soon serve as this great organization's president," said North. "I am eager to hit the ground running." Summer Meza

February 28, 2018

Even as support for gun control legislation remains overwhelmingly high in the polls, there are consequences for businesses that decide to cut ties with the NRA, a new Morning Consult poll has found. Rental car companies like Enterprise, Alamo, and National all saw their unfavorability ratings more than double when people were told about the companies' decision to end NRA discounts after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.

Likewise, insurance company MetLife Inc. had a 45 percent favorable rating and a 12 percent unfavorable rating before survey participants learned it ended its discount for NRA members. Afterwards, the unfavorable rating doubled to 24 percent, although the favorable rating went unchanged.

Lynda Maddox of the George Washington University School of Business told Morning Consult that brands' decisions could be designed to attract a particular demographic, like millennials. Added Mimi Chakravorti, who serves as the executive director of brand consultant Landor: "Brands are being held to a higher standard than they have been in the past. People are making decisions on the brands that they choose to affiliate with based on how brands behave."

The Morning Consult poll reached 2,201 adults between Feb. 23-25, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points. Read more about the results here. Jeva Lange

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