The National Rifle Association confirmed on Tuesday that it had picked a new interim head of its lobbying arm.
Jason Ouimet will become the head of the group’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), NRA spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam told the Washington Free Beacon. Ouimet had previously been the group’s director of federal affairs. He will replace Chris Cox who had led the ILA since 2002 but resigned in June as a result of internal turmoil.
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Multiple sources inside the NRA said Ouimet is well liked at ILA with one source calling him a "great guy."
Ouimet will face a number of challenges in the new role. The National Rifle Association is facing a number of investigations from hostile government officials, infighting between groups lead by CEO Wayne LaPierre and former president Oliver North that has spilled over into dueling lawsuits, and a potential revolt by some donors. The group also faces an election between President Donald Trump (R) and whichever Democrat makes it out of the increasingly pro-gun-control primary field. Not to mention the gun control bills which have passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and President Trump’s own statements calling for a new ban on firearms suppressors.
Ouimet will also likely be tasked with trying to build on the group’s positive 2018 fundraising efforts in order to ensure they can rebound from their decreased election spending. He will also have to show he can build the same relationships with the congressional leadership that Cox had.
"Chris Cox is the guy everybody dealt with," Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, told Politico.
Ouimet has said publicly the NRA should not be underestimated and they plan to mobilize as many gun owners as possible.
"Anyone who chooses to discount us does so at their peril," he told Politico. "The NRA is poised to mobilize the tens of millions of Second Amendment supporters in the upcoming elections."
There's no indication yet on how long Ouimet's interim leadership will last. The head of the ILA is appointed by executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.
UPDATE 8:41 A.M., Thurs. 4 July: This post has been updated to show the NRA's executive vice president appoints the executive director of ILA, not the board of directors.