Infighting on display at NRA as president Oliver North steps down

A contentious public infight within the National Rifle Association came to a head on Saturday with the organization's president, retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, announcing that he will not return for a second term.

North had intended to make an appearance at the organization's national convention in Indianapolis over the weekend, but instead of attending, Richard Childress, who serves as one of the NRA's current vice presidents, read a letter on his behalf.

"Please note, I hoped to be with you today as interim president endorsed for reelection. I'm now informed that will now not happen," Childress read to a convention hall full of NRA members. "I've been on the NRA board for more than two decades, it was a great privilege to serve as your president this past year."

North's departure comes amid a heated battle with Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer and the longtime spiritual leader of the NRA. North reportedly asked LaPierre to resign from his post earlier this week as the organization faces challenges surrounding fundraising and its nonprofit status, the New York Times reported.

Image: President Trump And Other Notable Leaders Address Annual NRA Meeting

The organization's 2016 election spending, including $36 million to help Trump, has prompted regulators in its charter base of New York state to threaten to investigate its nonprofit status.

North told organization brass that he created a committee to investigate possible financial improprieties committed by the organization, the Times reported. North also sent a letter to the board with allegations that LePierre charged a vendor more than $200,000 on wardrobe purchases, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In response, LePierre sent a letter to the NRA board alleging he was being extorted and pressured by North, who threatened to release "damaging" information about him if he did not resign, according to the Journal. LaPierre said he refused and called on board members to "see this for what it is: a threat meant to intimidate and divide us."

The dispute between the two NRA titans was triggered in part after the organization filed a lawsuit against advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, alleging the agency was not being transparent with how it used NRA money, according to the Journal. The NRA paid Ackerman McQueen $42.6 million in 2017, making it the group's largest vendor, the Journal reported.

The lawsuit is also connected to a looming investigation by New York state regulators seeking to re-examine the NRA's tax exemption status as a non-profit.

North, who accepted a "salaried position" with Ackerman McQueen, said that the lawsuit was filed without notice to the board, according to the letter read by Childress.

LaPierre alleged that North has "contractual and financial loyalties" to Ackerman McQueen and was, therefore, protecting them, according to the Journal.

North, a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, was selected last year to be the NRA's president and his term will end on Monday.

The 76 member NRA board will face pressing decisions when it meets on Monday.

17 PHOTOS
Trump and Pence attend NRA annual meeting
See Gallery
Trump and Pence attend NRA annual meeting
U.S. President Donald Trump makes a fist as he addresses the National Rifle Association (NRA) Convention in Dallas, Texas U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) and Wayne LaPierre, executive VP of the NRA, applaud from the stage at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A page of notes is seen in U.S. President Donald Trump's hand as he speaks at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A man takes aim with a Taurus revolver at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
U.S. President Donald Trump greets executive vice president of the NRA Wayne LaPierre and Donald Trump Jr. at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Convention in Dallas, Texas U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures before he speaks at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Attendees sing the national anthem at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North speaks during the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum during the NRA annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Friday, May 4, 2018. President�Donald Trump�delivered a strong sign of support for the National Rifle Association at its annual meeting on Friday, as gun-rights advocates regroup in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump arrives speak at the NRA's annual convention on May 4, 2018 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, speaks during the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum during the NRA annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Friday, May 4, 2018. President�Donald Trump�delivered a strong sign of support for the National Rifle Association at its annual meeting on Friday, as gun-rights advocates regroup in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum during the NRA annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Friday, May 4, 2018. Trump�delivered a strong sign of support for the National Rifle Association at its annual meeting on Friday, as gun-rights advocates regroup in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees walk past a sign at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the National Rifle Association (NRA) Convention in Dallas, Texas U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Executive vice president of the NRA Wayne LaPierre and Donald Trump Jr. attend the National Rifle Association (NRA) Convention in Dallas, Texas U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L), is applauded by NRA executive director Chris Cox and NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre (R), after speaking at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
People listen as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.