NRA's LaPierre tells board he is being extorted by group's president in effort to oust him

Longtime National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Wayne LaPierre told the group's board that its president, Oliver North, is extorting him, accusing North of trying to force his resignation over allegations of financial misdeeds.

LaPierre, the NRA’s CEO and executive vice president, wrote to board members in a letter Thursday that he refused North’s demand for his resignation, calling it a “threat meant to intimidate and divide us,” people familiar with the situation reportedly told The Wall Street Journal.

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North sent the board a letter of his own Thursday evening, saying he was looking out for the NRA’s best interests and that he was forming a crisis committee to probe internal financial matters, according to the Journal.

North had previously sent a longer letter to the NRA board that highlighted new allegations of financial misconduct centering around more than $200,000 of wardrobe purchases by LaPierre that were charged to a vendor, the Journal reported.

One person familiar with the situation told the newspaper that LaPierre’s letter was an “angry reaction” to North’s longer, initial letter.

The tensions comes in the midst of the NRA’s annual national convention, at which President Trump spoke Friday.

Insiders believe that the battle will reach a climax by Monday, when the 76-member board is set to meet, the Journal reported.

The fight between LaPierre and North is reportedly rooted in part over a quarrel between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen Inc., its advertising firm, which led the NRA to file a lawsuit earlier this month.

The NRA claims Ackerman McQueen declined to provide records supporting its billings, while the advertising firm slammed the lawsuit as “frivolous” and “inaccurate.”

Among its claims in the NRA’s suit is that its request for details regarding Ackerman McQueen’s contact with North are being roadblocked. North hosts a documentary program on NRATV produced by Ackerman McQueen.

According to the Journal, LaPierre discussed in his letter a phone conversation between North and a senior NRA staffer this week in which North said Ackerman McQueen was readying a letter to the board that would be “bad for me, two other members of my executive team and the Association.” 

LaPierre wrote that the letter in question “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.” He added that after the call “others informed me that I needed to withdraw the NRA lawsuit against [Ackerman McQueen] or be smeared.”

The NRA chief wrote that North said that Ackerman McQueen would not send the damaging letter if the executive vice president resigned. He added that the threat was expressed “in the parlance of extortionists, as an offer I couldn’t refuse. I refused it.”

LaPierre claimed that Ackerman McQueen paid North millions of dollars annually for the documentary program but that only three episodes have thus far been produced, resulting in questions from the NRA as to why it is paying the advertising firm “in light of these production shortfalls.”

The dispute pits two conservative juggernauts against each other. LaPierre, the almost 30-year head of the influential group, lifted the NRA out of grass-roots obscurity into the national advocacy giant it is today. North, in his own right, is widely respected among Republicans for his work in the 1980s on the National Security Council. 

North, who became NRA president a year ago, will have to stand for reelection after his tenure expires on Monday.