Ex-NRA President Gives Boost to Letitia James in Case Against Gun Group

Gun Rights

The testimony of a former National Rifle Association (NRA) president has bolstered New York Attorney General Letitia James’ corruption case against the organization.

James launched a civil lawsuit against the NRA in summer 2020 following an 18-month investigation. The suit alleges fraud within the organization, including financial misconduct and misuse of charitable donations by executives.

A key figure mentioned in the allegations was the outspoken then-CEO Wayne LaPierre, who recently resigned from his long-held position shortly before the trial finally commenced in Manhattan, citing health reasons. LaPierre has previously denounced the suit as an “unconstitutional, premeditated attack aiming to dismantle and destroy the NRA.”

On Tuesday, testimony from another major former NRA leader provided potentially damning insights into the association’s conduct. Oliver North, ex-National Security Council counter-terrorism coordinator who was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, served as NRA president from September 2018 to April 2019. Speaking in court about his time with the organization, his testimony largely supported James’ allegations.

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As documented by Law360 white-collar crime reporter Stewart Bishop, North claimed that the size of the NRA’s expenses took him by surprise, including large legal fees paid to the Brewer Attorneys & Counselors law firm. In a letter sent to the NRA board during his time with the organization, North cited a growth in their monthly payments to the firm from $25,000 in March 2018 to over $1.8 million in February 2019.

“Multiple times​ … I would say something like the ​Brewer bills are astronomical, these are extraordinary,” North said, according to Bishop.

oliver north nra corruption testimony
Former National Rifle Association President Oliver North, pictured, on Tuesday testified in Letitia James’ corruption trial against the organization.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

When North repeatedly attempted to raise the issue with LaPierre and others, the CEO initially agreed to let him investigate but later denied North while stressing the importance of Brewer to the organization. The NRA remains strongly affiliated with the firm, which is also representing the association in the corruption case.

Newsweek reached out to the NRA via email on Tuesday evening for comment.

“He would say things like, ‘Brewer is the reason why I’m not going to spend the rest of my life in an orange jumpsuit,'” North continued, also noting during his testimony that LaPierre once told him: “Stay in your lane, stop doing this, stop asking questions.”

North further testified that LaPierre and others began to retaliate against him for his questions, including efforts to undermine his reelection as NRA president. When he was not reelected, he opted to resign from the organization altogether.

Beyond the soaring legal fees, James has also accused LaPierre and other NRA executives of improperly using donor funds to purchase things like private-jet travel, vacations and high-end clothing. They are also accused of attempting to keep the issue quiet by targeting potential whistleblowers and withholding certain financial documents from investigators.

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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