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NRA’s LaPierre Could Face Challenge From Texas GOP’s Allen West

Congressman Allen B. West
 

West said Thursday he may run to unseat LaPierre, the executive vice president, when the gun rights group convenes this month in Houston for its first annual meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic began. West said he is weighing a call by current and former NRA board members for him to run.

“I guess I’ll have to go into prayer about this and make sure this is something that the Lord would have me do,” West said in an interview. If he did run, he said, he would seek to restore the “honor, the character and the competency” of the organization.

The NRA faces a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who also sued LaPierre and other senior executives in 2020, alleging they misused millions of dollars. A judge ruled in March that the state’s proposed remedy of dissolving the NRA would amount to a “corporate death penalty” and was not appropriate.

‘Cronyism and Nepotism’

West is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who served in Congress in Florida and unsuccessfully challenged Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a Republican primary this year. He also served as a board member of the NRA but resigned in August because he said he didn’t see a desire for reform in the organization.

“I’ve been pretty vocal about what I saw as corruption, cronyism and nepotism at the NRA,” West said. “People don’t have trust and confidence in the current leadership that they see there.”

LaPierre, 72, has led the NRA for more than three decades, boosting the group’s enormous sway in Washington and its full-throated defense of the firearms industry and gun rights. It has beaten back repeated attempts at stricter laws in the wake of mass shootings, especially since the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut. But internal rifts and James’s lawsuit have dented its image of invulnerability.

A spokesperson for the NRA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the potential leadership challenge.

‘True Warriors’

“NRA members are true warriors,” LaPierre said in a Fox News story this week. “For generations they have stood unflinching and unyielding against withering assaults on our freedom. Today, they’re still here standing guard in the face of a hostile administration and despotic billionaires who harass law-abiding gun owners and safeguard criminals.”

In November the NRA’s bankruptcy filing was rejected by a Texas judge, leaving the group vulnerable to the James lawsuit. After a weekslong trial, the judge dismissed the Chapter 11 case and halted an NRA proposal to reincorporate in Texas. New York officials claimed the filing was a bad-faith effort to use the protections of bankruptcy to avoid its lawsuit.

When the New York judge ruled in March that the state attorney general couldn’t seek dissolution, he said that James could nonetheless proceed with most of her claims.

“The attorney general’s allegations in this case, if proven, tell a grim story of greed, self-dealing and lax financial oversight at the highest levels of the National Rifle Association,” the judge said.

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