The NRA’s civil war just claimed a high-level casualty as organization sinks into chaos

The National Rifle Association’s civil war just intensified as the organization suspended its second-in-command and heir apparent to the leadership of the failing gun rights lobby.

Christopher W. Cox has been the Executive Director of the NRA’s lobbying wing since 2002 and is one of the chief architects of its political strategy. He has been long viewed as a successor to CEO Wayne LaPierre.

Cox’s suspension was announced by the New York-based gun rights group mass murder lobby, one day after he was named in a new lawsuit seeking to keep its ex-president from collecting millions in legal fees to defend the lawsuits he caused. The Times reports:

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The N.R.A. is conducting an internal review of the matter, and a spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, said on Thursday that Mr. Cox had “been placed on administrative leave.”

The reason NRA suspended Cox was text messages he sent and received during former NRA President Oliver North’s attempted coup before it was revealed that he was an employee of the group’s outside advertising firm.

The NRA has filed two lawsuits against both North and AckMack, who has, in turn, countersued the gun rights group.

Read Grant Stern’s Meet the Candidates 2020: A Voter’s Guide.

Their general counsel (whose father-in-law is the CEO of AckMack) explained why Cox is out in a New York Supreme Court complaint (embedded below) that also implicates former Rep. Dan Boren (R-OK) who is both an NRA director and lobbyist:

North and his co-conspirators orchestrated these threats through, among other things, a string of text messages . . . produced in the Virginia Litigation by Dan Boren, an NRA board member employed by one of Ackerman’s other major clients. . . [who] relayed the contents of Ackerman’s threatened letter to North and helped to choreograph the ultimatum they presented to Mr. LaPierre. . .

The same text messages and email messages demonstrate that another errant NRA fiduciary, Chris Cox—once thought by some to be a likely successor for Mr. LaPierre—participated in the Ackerman/North/Boren conspiracy.

Apparently, the NRA’s Dauphin of Death kept his options open during the fight between North and LaPierre, but he disputes the allegations.

For his part, Boren admitted in writing that the NRA’s longtime advertising company Ackerman McQueen (AckMack) was paying for employees to work on his lobbying account for a Native American tribe.

These are just the latest shots fired in an ever-widening internecine war which – combined with its disturbingly close relationship with Russia – is almost guaranteed to leave the gun industry’s top political ally mortally wounded.

The gun group’s financial woes began when their credit card sponsorship deal fell apart in the wake of the NRA’s bellicose statements after the Parkland massacre. Soon afterward, the group admitted to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that it took Russian cash donations.

Top brass from the NRA visited Russia in late 2015 and worked hard to cover up the group’s involvement until a whistleblower leaked records proving that they knew about the trip.

Convicted spy Maria Butina was in Moscow for the NRA’s trip and became their back channel to Putin’s government before she flipped on her co-conspirators, pled guilty and was recently sentenced to eighteen months in prison on the eve of the group’s national convention late this April.

The North/LaPierre feud broke into full public view the next day and escalated when New York’s Attorney General Letitia James opened a death penalty investigation into the nonprofit, which is chartered in that state.

Just yesterday, a whistleblower revealed that the NRA’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Woody Phillips was actually caught embezzling a million dollars from his prior employer in the early 1990s. But his prior employer covered up the theft for public relations reasons and recovered only half of the money.

Today, AckMack demanded cash and a multi-million dollar up-front guarantee of payment to keep the propaganda group’s hideously awful NRA TV channel afloat.

Pro-gun policies pushed by the National Rifle Association cost thousands of Americans their lives each year.

It’s no surprise that the group’s association with Oliver North has gone downhill fast; he was the first person convicted for obstructing justice by deleting emails, though it was overturned on a technicality later.

Fortunately, in 2019 the corrupt mandarins who run the NRA switched from brandishing weapons of mass destruction to filing lawsuits which guarantee mutually assured destruction.

It might not be long now before LaPierre’s gloom and doom fund-raising pitches about the gun slush fund’s demise become a reality, and the NRA goes out of business.

Original reporting by Danny Hakim at the New York Times.

Follow Grant Stern on Twitter @grantstern and check out his first book, Meet the Candidates 2020: Elizabeth Warren and Meet the Candidates 2020: Kamala Harris is on sale today, as part of his Meet the Candidates 2020 Series.

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.


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