The bitter leadership battle that has engulfed the National Rifle Association and recently burst into public view has come out with a clear winner. Oliver North surprised attendees at the group’s annual convention by announcing that he would not serve a second term as president of the organization, as is tradition. Although he doesn’t outright say it, the letter North had someone read on his behalf at the convention makes clear that he was forced out following his efforts to get longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre out of the organization.
In the statement, North says he was “informed” that he would no be nominated for reelection after his term ends Monday.
“I’ve been on the NRA board for more than two decades,” North said. “It was a great privilege to serve as your president this past year, an honor second to only serving our country as a U.S.
Marine in combat.” North went on to say that shortly after he took office in September he was faced with a spate of complaints about how much money the NRA was paying a contractor. North also called for a committee to be set up to review the NRA’s finances.
The shocking turn of events at the organization that is embroiled in an intense leadership battle comes a day after it was revealed that LaPierre wrote a letter to the board accusing North of extortion. In the letter, LaPierre said North, the former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who is best known for the role he played in the Iran-contra affair, had threatened to release “damaging” information about him to the board. “Delivered by a member of our Board on behalf of his employer, the exhortation was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA,” LaPierre wrote in the letter that was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The leadership dispute also comes at a time when the New York attorney general, Letitia James, has opened an investigation into the group’s tax-exempt status, reports the New York Times. That looming investigation is in part what sparked the confrontation. “The current situation,” North wrote in his statement, means that the organization’s “non-profit status is threatened.” James’ actions were hardly a surprise. Before he relection last year, she had vowed to investigate the NRA’s tax-exempt status, saying in an interview that while the group claimed to be “a charitable organization” it was actually “a terrorist organization.”