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FRESH AIR: The NRA, which has, for decades, been regarded as an unstoppable, powerful, political force, is now being torn by internal conflicts. A power struggle at the top of the leadership came to a head last month at the NRA’s annual convention. Leaked documents have revealed the CEO’s extravagant spending on clothes and travel with the use of NRA money. The NRA is suing its own advertising PR company. Its revenues are falling, and its tax-exempt status is being investigated by the New York state attorney general. My guest is New York Times investigative reporter Danny Hakim, who has been writing about these and other issues regarding the NRA.
TERRY GROSS: Danny Hakim, welcome to FRESH AIR. So last month at the NRA convention, a kind of civil war broke out. Paint a picture for us. What went on?
DANNY HAKIM: Well, a day or two before the convention started, Oliver North, who was the president of the NRA at the time, called an aide to Wayne LaPierre, who was the CEO – who is the CEO of the NRA, and said that LaPierre needed to resign. And if he didn’t resign, a damaging letter was going to be sent to the NRA’s board. It was going to expose LaPierre’s spending practices – his spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothing, on travel expenses, things of that nature. And if LaPierre did resign, North said he would make sure he had a comfortable retirement package.
LaPierre felt like he was being threatened. He felt like he was, basically, being extorted. And he told the board that he had no intention of resigning. This started to play out as the group’s annual convention began, as President Trump was addressing the convention. And a few days of infighting followed. And Mr. LaPierre, who is a – you know, has been running the NRA for many years who’s a veteran sort of infighter, prevailed. And Oliver North was ousted by the end of the convention. MORE