NRA President Oliver North leaving gun rights group amid clash

National Rifle Association (NRA) President Oliver NorthOliver Laurence NorthNRA board member Allen West urges CEO LaPierre to step down Leaked documents show more than 0,000 in alleged spending by NRA CEO Senate Dems request NRA documents related to alleged financial wrongdoing MORE announced Saturday that he will not run for reelection amid a rash of infighting at the gun rights group's annual meeting.

“Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I’m now informed that that will not happen,” North said in a letter read at the NRA’s national convention by Richard Childress, the group’s first vice president.

The announcement comes less than a day after bombshell reports surfaced in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal detailing a leadership struggle between North and NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

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The reports revealed a letter LaPierre sent to the NRA board alleging that North was extorting him and pressuring him to resign over allegations of financial misdeeds. In his own letter, North said he was looking out for the NRA’s best interests and that he was forming a crisis committee to probe internal financial matters. 

The clash between North and LaPierre is playing out amid the group's annual national convention in Indianapolis. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE traveled to Indiana to address the gathering of gun rights advocates on Friday before returning to Washington.

The feud between the top NRA officials is reportedly rooted in a larger row between the gun rights group and Ackerman McQueen, its advertising firm, which led the NRA to file a lawsuit earlier this month.

The NRA says Ackerman McQueen has refused to provide records to support its billings, while the advertising firm ripped the lawsuit as “frivolous” and “inaccurate.” The NRA is seeking details regarding Ackerman McQueen’s contract with North. The firm produces a documentary program on NRATV hosted by North.

The NRA executive vice president claimed that while the advertising firm paid North millions of dollars annually for the documentary program, only three episodes have been produced so far.

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

LaPierre reportedly 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.”

He added that he was informed that Ackerman McQueen would not send the damaging letter if he resigned.

“Without notice to the board, the NRA filed a lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen. In addition, a series of articles in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times were alleged of financial mismanagement by senior NRA officers. If true, the NRA nonprofit status is threatened,” North said of the dispute to the NRA in Saturday’s letter.

North, whose term ends Monday, said he joined the NRA as president at LaPierre’s urging.

“In spring of 2018, NRA EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre urged me to retire from my job at Fox News, become the president and [accept] a salary position with Ackerman McQueen, so I agreed to do so in order to help build the NRA membership and resources,” he said. 

The 76-member NRA board will likely seek to work to resolve the new leadership vacuum when it meets on Monday.