Gun Laws & Legislation

Major NRA Donor: Chief ‘Has Become Radioactive And Must Step Down’

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
Font Size:

A major donor to the National Rifle Association (NRA) wants chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre gone before he’ll give again.

David Dell’Aquila said Tuesday that NRA head Wayne LaPierre has become an obstacle not only to further donations but to the organization itself as the chief has become the focus of the group’s highly-publicized financial struggles, legal battles and investigations into its tax-exempt status, according to The New York Times.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 27: Wayne LaPierre, NRA vice president and CEO attends the NRA annual meeting of members at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. A statement was read at the meeting announcing that NRA president Oliver North, whose seat at the head table remained empty at the event, would not serve another term. There have been recent reports of tension between LaPierre and North, with North citing financial impropriety within the organization. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Wayne LaPierre, NRA vice president and CEO attends the NRA annual meeting of members at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Dell’Aquila says the chronic trouble “has become a daily soap opera and it’s decaying and destroying the N.R.A. from within, and it needs to stop.” He stipulated that the situation has gone far beyond merely containing the crisis:  “Even if these allegations regarding Mr. LaPierre and his leadership are false, he has become radioactive and must step down.” (RELATED: LaPierre Reelected To Top NRA Post After Showdown)

Dell’Aquila, who has provided about $100,000 in his lifetime and has promised millions more after his death, is apparently ready to lead a revolt of big-money donors to convince LaPierre that it is time to go.

Dell’Aquila claims that with other disgruntled donors he can deny the NRA more than $134 million in funding — but the Times noted that the would-be insurgent would not confirm who these other donors are. At least one other wealthy donor — who wishes to remain anonymous — did say he was prepared join Dell’Aquila’s rebellion and would not be providing further funding to the NRA at this time until the group’s leadership is reformed.

Keleigh Glover looks over a rifle scope in the Vortex booth at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Keleigh Glover looks over a rifle scope in the Vortex booth at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on Apr. 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“The donors are rebelling,” the unnamed source told the Times, saying that the ongoing dissension within the gun rights organization is “helping to destroy, temporarily, the strength of the NRA as one of the strongest lobbying groups.” (RELATED: Col. Allen West Goes After NRA: CEO LaPierre Should Resign, President Meadows Is ‘A Liar’)

But the NRA could still survive a revolt by elite donors if the grassroots of the organization remains committed and, as the Times notes, LaPierre has successfully kept the vast majority of the 76 members of his board of directors loyal. 75% of the board would have to vote against LaPierre to remove him from office.

Last month, the NRA suspended top lobbyist Chris Cox after alleging he was spearheading a “coup attempt” on the leadership. Last week he officially resigned.

As the Times notes, the only murmuring from the rank and file may have been the recent announcement of social media Second Amendment advocate Greg Kinman who said he could no longer support  the NRA.

But the squabble might have more serious political ramifications. Republicans have long counted on the NRA’s moral and financial support in elections and will be hoping for a unified and robust organization in 2020.

President Donald Trump has frequently indicated his profound appreciation of the work the NRA does and just this week commented on New York state Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation of the tax-exempt status of the organization, tweeting that the NRA was “a victim of harassment by the A.G.”

Follow David on Twitter