NRA Board Enters Closed-Door Session

Board meeting to deliberate response to leadership controversies could extend through tomorrow

Chris Cox and Wayne LaPierre / Getty Images

The National Rifle Association's board of directors went into a closed-door executive session shortly after their meeting began on Monday as they deliberate what to do about the recent accusations of wrongdoing between members of NRA leadership.

After swearing in new and reelected board members and presenting the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award to Tulsa Police Sgt. Michael Parsons, NRA first vice president Richard Childress began to deliver his report to the board. However, as Childress started to describe an attempt by him and NRA president Oliver North to perform a special audit of the organization, he was interrupted by a board member who requested the board go into a closed-door executive session. The board then voted nearly unanimously to go into executive session.

The board meeting is only open to NRA staff or members and no electronic recording devices, cell phones, or laptops are allowed inside. At the beginning of the meeting, about 70 of the 76 board members were in attendance as well as another couple dozen NRA members and staff. But once the executive session was agreed to, everyone who wasn't a board member or select staff and legal counsel was required to leave the room. About 30 of those required to leave have lingered outside the meeting waiting to go back inside if and when the executive session is adjourned and the meeting resumes normal order.

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They could be waiting a long time. Before the meeting began, three board members who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon said they expected the meeting could carry on past the early afternoon and even into tomorrow. There is no indication of whether or not the board will even come back out of executive session before it ends the meeting.

During a short morning break from the executive session, the Washington Free Beacon spoke with a number of board members and staff seeking information about what was going on inside. None provided any specific details about the proceedings. Chris Cox, director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said things were "crazy" but didn't elaborate. David Keene, a board member, said he didn't have any insight to offer.

While it's impossible to know for sure what is being discussed inside the closed-door meeting, the leadership of the gun-rights group has been embroiled in a series of controversies and infighting. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president, accused Oliver North, president of the NRA, of attempting to extort him into resigning from his position or he would release damaging information about LaPierre's expenditures. North shot back by forming a special committee to investigate recent accusations of financial mismanagement by LaPierre and others, as reported in the New Yorker, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.

During the NRA members meeting on Saturday, when members eligible to vote on board members are given an opportunity to speak to the board, there was a heated exchange over a proposed vote of no confidence in Wayne LaPierre and members of the oversight committee.

Oliver North was meant to preside over the meeting but was spotted by a Free Beacon source flying out of Indianapolis on Friday night. North was absent at the meeting and a letter from him was read, in which he informed the membership that he would not be nominated for a second term as president. North was also absent from the board meeting.

Additionally, NPR reported on Saturday that the attorney general of New York has opened an investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing.

Several board members reacted to the accusations of wrongdoing with calls for more transparency and accountability within the NRA.

"At the end of the day, I have to sit through and sift all of it," Julie Golob, NRA board member, told the Free Beacon. "And that's the responsibility of every board member. We owe it to the membership, we owe it to America, to put it plainly."

"We have to investigate this and then we have to come up with the reforms that are necessary," Lt. Col. Allen West, a board member, told the Free Beacon. "It's very important for us to have the trust and confidence of the members. I'm a principled guy. You know, in the United States military these are the type of things that we would not allow to happen."

Ted Nugent, another NRA board member, said on Sunday that he wants to open up the process.

"We need total transparency and accountability to the only important element of the NRA and that is We The People membership," Nugent told the Free Beacon. "We will wrestle that into the open. We will make sure that we are accountable to the members who struggle and sacrifice to support the freedom of self-defense."

Nugent said the organization needs to "open all the books" and make sure the NRA's money is being spent effectively.

"When I go on tour, if I make $5 million, I can't spend $10 million," he said. "It's all a resounding ‘duh.' Accountability in the most important civil rights organization in the world. That's why I'm on the board and that's what I'm going to fight for. I believe we will accomplish that."

West suggested a new internal audit system be set up inside the NRA.

"I think one of the key things that we need to have is an internal audit system within the National Rifle Association," he said. "I think it's very important that the board reassert more of its control and power based upon the bylaws so that we don't have any of these, you know, surprises that pop up."

"We cannot meet on Monday and not having done anything, because that would be a failure," he continued. "Failure is not an option."

What exactly the NRA board will do remains to be seen. For those currently sitting outside the executive session, the wait continues.