BREAKING: Wayne LaPierre Announces Resignation as NRA EVP, CEO, Josh Powell Cuts a Deal

Wayne LaPierre NRA
Dan Z. for SNW

The National Rifle Association has announced that Wayne LaPierre will resign as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the association as of January 31. This is a day that many of us in the gun rights community have been looking forward to for a good long time.

As Fox News reports . . .

The announcement comes as LaPierre is set to face trial in the corruption case brought by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James. James – who before being elected the state’s AG, vowed to take on the NRA and slammed the group as a “terrorist organization” – brought forth a lawsuit in 2020 accusing NRA leadership of violating state and federal laws to divert millions of dollars to their own pockets. 

The NRA has repeatedly hit back that James’s suit was an example of her weaponizing the powers of her office “to silence” the Second Amendment group due to her “animus” for the organization.  

“The NRA continues its defense of a lawsuit by the New York Attorney General, and LaPierre is an individual defendant in that action. It is well-known that the NYAG vowed to pursue the NRA when she was candidate for her office and, upon being elected, filed a lawsuit to dissolve the Association in August 2020. Trial proceedings in that case begin Monday,” the NRA’s press release states. 

There’s no question that AG James has weaponized her office in order to take down LaPierre and, if possible, the NRA as a whole. But it was LaPierre’s own track record of alleged corruption and serial mismanagement that gave her all of the ammunition she needed to launch her attack.

The NRA issued the following press release . . .

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) announced today that Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced he is stepping down from his position as chief executive of the organization, effective January 31. Long-time NRA executive and Head of General Operations Andrew Arulanandam will become the interim CEO & EVP of the NRA.

“With pride in all that we have accomplished, I am announcing my resignation from the NRA,” says Wayne LaPierre. “I’ve been a card-carrying member of this organization for most of my adult life, and I will never stop supporting the NRA and its fight to defend Second Amendment freedom. My passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.”

During an NRA Board of Directors meeting today in Irving, Texas, NRA President Charles Cotton reported that he accepted LaPierre’s resignation. According to the NRA, LaPierre cited health reasons as a reason for his decision. The NRA continues its defense of a lawsuit by the New York Attorney General, and LaPierre is an individual defendant in that action. It is well-known that the NYAG vowed to pursue the NRA when she was candidate for her office and, upon being elected, filed a lawsuit to dissolve the Association in August 2020. Trial proceedings in that case begin Monday.

In March 2022, the NRA scored a major legal victory, when a New York court dismissed the NYAG’s claims to dissolve the organization. The court issued an opinion that vindicates the NRA’s position: the NYAG’s effort to shut down the Association ran afoul of common sense, New York law, and the First Amendment. Since then, the NRA maintains that it is committed to good governance. With respect to the NYAG’s allegations, the NRA Board of Directors reports it has undertaken significant efforts to perform a self-evaluation, recommended termination of disgraced “insiders” and vendors who allegedly abused the Association, and accepted reimbursement, with interest, for alleged excess benefit transactions from LaPierre, as reported in public tax filings.

LaPierre said, “I am proud of the NRA’s advocacy in New York and, through it all, determination to defend the Second Amendment. I can assure you the NRA’s mission, programming, and fight for freedom have never been more secure. What makes the NRA unlike any other advocacy organization is the depth and experience of its professional team, the unwavering support of its members, and its fighting spirit. I have enormous confidence in our board of directors, executive leadership team, and my long-time colleague Andrew Arulanandam. Andrew knows every facet of this organization and has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me in every arena imaginable. Andrew knows how to help the NRA win – he’s been one of the key authors of our playbook for decades.”

Cotton said, “On behalf of the NRA Board of Directors, I thank Wayne LaPierre for his service. Wayne has done as much to protect Second Amendment freedom as anyone. Wayne is a towering figure in the fight for constitutional freedom, but one of his other talents is equally important: he built an organization that is bigger than him. Under the direction of Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA will continue to thrive – with a renewed energy in our business operations and grassroots advocacy. Our future is bright and secure.”

If only. There’s no question that in years past, LaPierre was, in fact, a powerful and effective advocate for Americans’ gun rights. Those days, however, are long gone.

With the multiple charges of corruption and internal battles that have been raging within the NRA since 2019, as well as the resulting attacks from outside the association from the likes of New York Attorney General Letitia James, LaPierre long ago became a far greater liability than an asset to the association and the cause of gun rights.

Doggedly clinging to his job as LaPierre has done despite credible allegations of corruption and self-dealing, the association’s disastrously inept foray into the concealed carry insurance business, an abortive and laughably transparent bankruptcy filing, and the tens of millions of dollars in legal fees that have been flushed spent defending all of the above has all but drained the NRA’s coffers and left the organization a shell of its former self.

As an aside, SNW has been getting a flood gleeful texts and emails from pro-gun people both within and outside the industry since the news was announced this afternoon. One message simply contained a clip of Dorothy and the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz singing Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. It’s safe to say that after the ordeal of last four-plus years, Mr. LaPierre will not be missed. Those of us who care about the cause of gun rights and see a healthy, effective NRA as an important part of that fight can only wonder whether too much damage has already been done.

Today’s announcement comes as the NRA is due in court next week for the hearing of a lawsuit brought by New York AG James in her attempt to unseat LaPierre and likely much, if not all current board members and officers. Is today’s announcement part of a deal reached to settle James’ lawsuit before it can be heard? SNW has contacted the Attorney General’s office for comment. If and when get a statement from them, we’ll let you know.

UPDATE: We heard back from the New York Attorney General’s office. They said . . .

LaPierre’s resignation validates our claims against him, but it will not insulate him from accountability. We look forward to presenting our case in court.

UPDATE 2: Late Friday afternoon came news that Josh Powell, the NRA’s former COO has reached a deal with the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office to settle any liability he may have for the princely sum of $100,000.

Under the agreement he’s reached with the AG, Powell has agreed to . . .

  1. Admit that he breached his fiduciary duties
  2. Failed to administer the charitable assets entrusted to his care, converting charitable assets for his own benefit and for the benefit of his family members
  3. Pay restitution to the NRA of $100,000
  4. Be permanently barred from serving as an officer, director, trustee or in any other fiduciary position for a non-profit in the state of New York
  5. Appear and testify in the upcoming trial involving the NRA

You can read the stipulation agreement here. A lot of NRA officers and directors will be spending a good deal of the weekend burning up the phone lines talking to their attorneys.

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