Despite Turmoil at Annual Meeting, NRA Remains a ‘Potent Political Force’

Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski summarized the turmoil among NRA leadership playing out at the organization's annual meeting, but said the group remains a "potent political force."

"This weekend, it seems undeniable that at least the NRA's leadership is in crisis," Gutowski reported from the annual meeting in Indianapolis.

The controversy has manifested in a public leadership battle between Oliver North, the group's president, and Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president. LaPierre accused North of trying to blackmail him into resigning by threatening to release harmful information about his expenditures. LaPierre then accused North of withholding information about his contract with the NRA's top ad maker.

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North informed members he would no longer serve as the NRA's president and would not seek a second term.

The public controversy resulted in a contentious meeting.

One member, a Vietnam War veteran, characterized it in no uncertain terms.

"I've seen some s—, but I haven't seen nothing like this s—," he said.

Members ultimately decided to refer allegations of wrongdoing by leadership to the board for further investigation.

Former Republican congressman Allen West told theĀ Free Beacon it is "very important for us to have the trust and confidence of the members."

"I think one of the key things that we need to have is an internal audit system within the National Rifle Association. 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," West said.

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

Board member Julie Golob said she will "have to sit through and sift all of it" before making a judgment.

"As a board member, I just have to look at all the angles and think of the best thing for our rights," Golob continued.

Gutowski observed that the organization remains strong, despite turmoil in the leadership.

"Whatever turmoil might be occurring at the top of the NRA, it's clear from my time here at the 148th annual meeting that the group is still a potent political force," Gutowski said. "There's 15 acres of exhibits here on the display floor in Indianapolis with 80,000 people expected to attend, and they even rented out Lucas Oil Field where the Indianapolis Colts play in order for Republican senators, governors, and House leadership to give speeches to the membership. And, of course, President Trump made his third consecutive appearance, praising the organization's activism."