NRA Infighting During Convention

Apr 28, 2019
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And now to this weekend's tumultuous meeting of the National Rifle Association. Amid allegations of financial impropriety and infighting among the group's board, rebellious NRA members tried to oust CEO Wayne LaPierre. And the NRA's president, Oliver North, said that the group was in crisis as he stepped down unexpectedly from his leadership role. NPR's Tim Mak has more from the convention in Indianapolis.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: It all happened the morning after President Donald Trump addressed the convention for a third year in a row, a reflection of the NRA's power in America right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF NRA CONVENTION)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They want to take away your guns. You better get out there and vote.

MAK: But soon after the president's speech, accusations of self dealing and poor management of NRA funds spilled out into the open. On Saturday, the president of the organization, Oliver North, announced that he was stepping aside and appeared to walk away from an organization he'd been affiliated with for more than 20 years. He did not even show up to deliver the message. Another board member had to read a letter North had written.

(SOUNDBITE OF NRA CONVENTION)

UNIDENTIFIED NRA BOARD MEMBER #1: (Reading) Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I'm now informed that I will not - that will not happen.

MAK: The infighting continued in the form of a resolution seeking to oust longtime NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre from office and alleging that he was responsible for the financial impropriety.

(SOUNDBITE OF NRA CONVENTION)

UNIDENTIFIED NRA BOARD MEMBER #2: Therefore, be it resolved that...

MAK: That's the resolution being read aloud.

(SOUNDBITE OF NRA CONVENTION)

UNIDENTIFIED NRA BOARD MEMBER #2: ...Do hereby express our disappointment, frustration and lack of confidence in Wayne LaPierre's ability to guide the association out of the dangerous mess he has created and call for his immediate resignation.

MAK: LaPierre survived the resolution, which failed to garner enough support from NRA members after an impassioned defense by a member from Missouri, a former law enforcement officer.

(SOUNDBITE OF NRA CONVENTION)

UNIDENTIFIED NRA MEMBER: I'm the sheriff. I may be retired...

UNIDENTIFIED NRA MEMBERS: (Cheering).

UNIDENTIFIED NRA MEMBER: ...But you ain't dragging Wayne LaPierre anywhere.

MAK: But to complicate matters for the NRA, the attorney general of New York told NPR on Saturday that their office has issued subpoenas and opened an investigation into the gun rights group. Facing difficulties fundraising, internal turmoil and an external investigation by the New York attorney general, the National Rifle Association appears more vulnerable than it has been in decades. Tim Mak, NPR News, Indianapolis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.