For me, this whole thing began a couple months ago, when I was told that NRA President Oliver North had a personal contract with one of NRA’s vendors, the media company Ackerman McQueen, or AckMac as it’s known.
I was told this personal contract was worth millions, and that it was unethical for North to have a personal contract with a vendor. I was also told, by someone who should know, that North didn’t disclose this contract until after he was president.
That alone is troublesome.
I called North and left a message on his cell. He called back about an hour later. My caller ID said “FOX NEWS.”
North was cagey. He wanted to know who had told me about the contract. He wanted to know my source.
“You can tell me,” he said. “It’s okay.”
North denied the personal contract was worth $5 million as I’d been told. It was closer to $1 million, he said.
Toward the end of the call, North said the whole conversation was off the record, and that I could attribute everything he said to “a senior NRA official.” Well, it doesn’t really work like that. If you want an off-the-record conversation with a reporter, you need to negotiate that up front, before the conversation begins. North has frequently described himself as a “journalist,” so he should have known this.
For the next few weeks I tried to get some traction for the story with NRA board members, none of whom were willing to speak on the record because things were blowing up with AckMac.
NRA is suing the media firm, alleging they’ve been overcharged dramatically. I was told that North was trying to stop the scrutiny — audits and lawsuits — because of his personal, lucrative AckMac contract.
Supposedly, Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president, was leading the charge against AckMac, along with members of his staff.
Now, a bit of clarification about the two men’s roles is needed. As NRA President, North is relatively powerless. NRA presidents are limited to two, one-year terms. LaPierre, as EVP, has all of the power within the organization, which he’s led for nearly 30 years.
The maneuvering began, and the two men were destined for a power struggle, since North wanted to save AckMac and LaPierre wanted it investigated and held accountable.
Fast forward to last week in Indy.
One of my favorite websites, The Truth About Guns, reported that LaPierre was confronted by a few board members and donors in a backroom and told to resign — or else.
He refused, and quickly fired off a letter to the board.
The letter is pretty telling.
In it, LaPierre alleges that his office was contacted by North and told that if he didn’t resign as EVP, North would release damning information against LaPierre and his staff.
Another clarification is needed. Even though LaPierre does not have ties to AckMac like North — a $1 million contract — LaPierre led NRA while AckMac flourished. If in fact AckMac overcharged, it all happened on LaPierre’s watch. As EVP, he should be held accountable.
Back to Indy…
There are a bunch of formalities that occur at NRA’s annual meetings. One of them is the reelection of the president.
North should have been renominated for his second term as president. But this wasn’t going to happen.
Someone, likely from LaPierre’s camp, told North that he would not be renominated, much less reelected president.
As a result, North did the only thing he could and resigned by saying he wouldn’t accept a second term. Make no mistake — in reality, North was forced out. LaPierre won this one.
I am not an NRA member because, as a journalist, I cannot write about any group that I belong to. Also, I’ve never asked for nor received a single dollar of NRA money. They’ve never advertised once on this site.
In my humble opinion, the fact that an NRA president tried to extort the EVP into resigning is sickening.
I did not enjoy my conversation with North, however brief. There was something about him that I neither liked nor trusted. The members should be glad he’s gone.
As to LaPierre, the allegations North claimed to possess need to be investigated. The NRA has already taken steps to see this through.
LaPierre has led NRA for nearly 30 years and has weathered several coup attempts.
Now, after all of this dirty laundry was aired in public for the whole world to see, it’s up to the members to decide if LaPierre’s contributions to the organization are worth all the hype and hyperbole his actions have generated.