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By Dennis Romero
Oliver North, the president of the National Rifle Association, has asked its longtime spiritual leader and chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, to step down amid challenges surrounding the organization’s fundraising and nonprofit status, the New York Times reported Friday.
The report came just hours after President Donald Trump addressed the gun owners’ rights group at its annual meeting in Indianapolis. The organization’s 2016 election spending, including $36 million to help Trump, has prompted regulators in its charter base of New York state to threaten to investigate its nonprofit status.
The report also comes on the day Maria Butina, the Russian operative who used her NRA activism to illegally infiltrate American conservative circles, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
That episode correlates to fundraising difficulties for the NRA.
North, installed as NRA president almost one year ago, asked LaPierre to resign on Wednesday, according to the report.
LaPierre responded with a letter, quoted by the Times, addressed to the NRA’s board. It alleges North has threatened to leak damaging information about LaPierre unless he resigns.
“Yesterday evening, I was forced to confront one of those defining choices — styled, in the parlance of extortionists — as an offer I couldn’t refuse,” the letter reads, according to the Times. “I refused it.”
The Times reports that North, a key figure in the Reagan era Iran-Contra scandal, created a committee to investigate alleged financial improprieties at the NRA.
The Daily Beast reported Friday that a civil complaint in Virginia filed earlier this month and amended Wednesday claims that North has been receiving income from advertising firm Ackerman McQueen while it has been under contract with NRATV to produce a documentary series.
“North, in effect, double-dipped by drawing a salary from both the gun-rights group and Ackerman McQueen at the same time,” the Daily Beast reported.