Friday, January 5, 2024

Wayne LaPierre Resigns from NRA Amidst Corruption Trial and Declining Organization Influence

NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., April 14, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Wayne LaPierre stepped down from his role as the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Friday. His resignation marked the end of a tenure that saw the NRA rise to significant influence in Washington but also face challenges due to accusations of corruption and a bankruptcy filing.

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At 74, LaPierre, who has been the NRA's chief executive since 1991, resigned just days before a corruption trial, initiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James, was scheduled to start. LaPierre is one of the individual defendants in this trial and is expected to give testimony before Justice Joel Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court.

The NRA attributed LaPierre's resignation to health reasons and announced that Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's director of general operations and a longtime associate of LaPierre, would temporarily take over as CEO and executive vice president.

LaPierre, in his departing statement, reaffirmed his commitment to the NRA and its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and that under his leadership, the NRA became a formidable force in both Washington and state legislatures, advocating for gun rights and opposing gun control measures.

The impending trial in Manhattan is still set to proceed as planned. Attorney General James commented on the significance of LaPierre's departure, stating it confirms the allegations against him but does not exempt him from being held accountable. The NRA's counsel, William Brewer, expressed the organization's readiness to defend its governance and advocacy efforts.

Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020, accusing it of misappropriating funds for the lavish lifestyles of its top executives, including travel expenses for LaPierre. The NRA, founded in 1871, has accused James of politically motivated actions and infringing on its First Amendment rights.

The trial comes at a challenging time for the NRA, with declining revenue and membership, despite an expansion of gun rights by the U.S. Supreme Court and increasing public interest in firearms for personal safety. Revenue has dropped significantly since 2016, and membership numbers have decreased from a peak of 5.5 million to about 4.2 million in recent years.

Former NRA board member Phil Journey noted a significant decline in membership and expressed concerns about the organization's direction. Despite these challenges, LaPierre was re-elected last year by the board.

James's lawsuit highlights various alleged misconduct within the NRA, including failure to secure board approval for conflict-of-interest transactions, awarding contracts without due process, and retaliating against whistleblowers. The misconduct reportedly violates state laws governing nonprofit organizations.

James had previously attempted to dissolve the NRA, but this effort was rejected in March 2022 by the court. In a bid to reorganize, the NRA filed for bankruptcy in Texas in January 2021. However, a bankruptcy judge dismissed the case four months later, criticizing some aspects of the NRA's operations.

Let us know your thoughts on Wayne's resignation in the comments or on the Gun Coyote Forum.

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