National Rifle Association President Oliver North told NRA members on Saturday he will not be renominated president of the group following a dispute with its CEO Wayne LaPierre.
The announcement was made in a letter read Saturday during the NRA convention being held in Indianapolis, NRA officials confirmed to CNN.
North said in the letter that he hoped he would be renominated for a second term but, “I am now informed that will not happen,” according to a video of the letter being read.
North, a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, was selected last year to be the NRA’s president. At the time, LaPierre — the group’s longtime executive and key public face — called him “hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board.” Already a controversial figure due to the Reagan-era scandal over secret arms sales to Iran, North joined the preeminent gun rights group at a critical juncture for it as it responded to renewed calls for gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
But on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that LaPierre told the NRA’s board that he had refused a demand by North to step down and accused the NRA president of trying to extort him.
According to the Journal, North told the board that he was forming a crisis committee to look at the organization’s finances and had told the board’s executive committee that LaPierre charged more than $200,000 in wardrobe purchases to a vendor.
The dispute between LaPierre and North originated in part from a dispute between the NRA and contractor Ackerman McQueen Inc., an ad agency which runs NRATV, its online media service. That resulted in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the NRA.
In the lawsuit, the NRA claimed Ackerman McQueen did not justify its billings with records, according to the Journal. Ackerman McQueen called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “inaccurate,” the Journal reported.
In his letter this week, LaPierre wrote that North called his office to relay that unless he resigned, Ackerman McQueen Inc. was prepared to release a damaging letter to the NRA board, the Journal reported
“I believe the purpose of the letter was to humiliate me, discredit our Association, and raise appearances of impropriety that hurt our members and the Second Amendment,” LaPierre wrote. “The letter would contain a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses.”
The feud between the two high-profile conservatives came in the middle of the NRA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis. The NRA’s full 76-member board is set to meet on Monday, and it is expected the group’s board will elect the next president at that session.
The NRA presidency has previously been a ceremonial post, but the New York Times reported North had asked for it to be a paid position.
Contributions to the NRA are lagging, the Times reported, and the organization is facing an increasingly well-financed opposition movement in the wake of several mass shootings.