Former National Rifle Association President Oliver North is hitting back after the group’s chief executive accused him of attempting to stage a coup.
“At no time did North seek the removal of (Wayne) LaPierre as (executive vice president)/CEO of the NRA,” North’s legal team wrote in a court filing Thursday. “Nonetheless, LaPierre attacked North publicly in an attempt to undermine North and his efforts to address allegations of financial misconduct at the NRA.”
At the NRA’s annual meeting earlier this year, LaPierre told board members that North – then the NRA president – was trying to extort him. In a letter to the board of directors, LaPierre said North had pressed him to resign or be subjected to a smear campaign.
North says in his filing that the letter was “false and defamatory.” Still, he was effectively ousted from the NRA. Soon after, the NRA sued North in New York.
North, in his response to the lawsuit, said he grew concerned about the NRA’s spending on legal fees – “hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing, private jet travel, and other personal benefits” for LaPierre – and other financial mismanagement that could jeopardize the NRA’s nonprofit status.
North urged the NRA to enlist outside professionals to conduct an internal review, which he says was his responsibility as an NRA president and board member.
“LaPierre – demonstrating his total dictatorial control over the NRA … stopped all of North’s inquiries and prevented others at the NRA from looking into the concerns that North raised,” according to the filing from North’s team.
In response to his concerns, North says LaPierre retaliated against him. He claimed LaPierre blocked him from being reelected as NRA president, ousted him from the board of directors, defamed him and sued him – all as payback.
“Indeed, North had been a long-term, close personal friend of LaPierre,” according to North’s court filing. “He did not want LaPierre’s job as EVP/CEO of the NRA, nor did he seek his removal.”
The NRA’s outside counsel shot back in a statement Thursday.
North’s response is “a misguided attempt to deflect from reality,” said William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors, in a statement. “The NRA will not look the other way when it appears that crimes against the Association have been committed by people motivated by their own self-interests.”
North has become embroiled in a wave of litigation surrounding the NRA. The NRA also sued its longtime advertising partner, Ackerman McQueen.
While North operated as a public face of the NRA, he was paid through a contract with Ackerman. As a result of that litigation, North says Ackerman McQueen has not been able to pay him.
In the NRA’s lawsuit against Ackerman, it has criticized some of the ad agency’s spending on contracts, including North’s. North claims that LaPierre was well aware of the deal he had struck with Ackerman – and even encouraged it.
“Indeed, it was LaPierre who encouraged and authorized North to be hired by Ackerman McQueen to work on the NRATV show ‘American Heroes,’ and it was LaPierre who at the same time urged North to accept the role as President of the NRA,” according to North’s court filing. “LaPierre urged and convinced North to leave his job at Fox News to take on these assignments for the NRA.