Legal team shake-up ousts longtime outside counsel
WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association’s outside legal team was reportedly shaken up on Thursday, during what can only be described as a turbulent time for the gun rights lobbying group. Since the spring, the NRA’s president, chief lobbyist and several board members have also parted ways with the organization.
In the apparent next phase of a continuing civil war within the NRA, the country’s most powerful gun lobbying organization cut ties with outside attorney Charles Cooper, the New York Times and both Washington Post both reported. Additionally, another outside counsel, Michael Volklov resigned, the Post also reported citing NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. And the Times reported that a top in-house counsel resigned as well.
Cooper represented the NRA for the past three decades. He said in a statement provided to the Post: “At every turn, I have advised my client as to my best judgment of the steps that should be taken to advance and protect the best interest of the NRA itself.” He also said he had “adhered to the highest standards of professionalism and loyalty.” And that his allegiance had been to the group itself “not to any individual officers or directors of the organization.”
Earlier this year, the infighting within the organization burst into public view when Oliver North, then the NRA’s president, was forced out after expressing concerns about the group’s finances.
North was also reportedly involved in an effort to oust NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who has been facing pressure to resign, including from deep-pocketed donors concerned about the ongoing strife, according to a July New York Times report.
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Just before two recent mass shootings, three members of the NRA board resigned, citing concerns over irresponsible spending by the organization’s leaders. Additionally, Julie Golob, a professional sport shooter, wrote in a post published on her website that she will not be completing her full 3-year term and gave notice of her resignation from the organization’s board to NRA President Carolyn Meadows earlier this month.
Two more board members’ resignations were reported earlier this week, bringing to the total number of departures from the organization’s board to seven, according to the Washington Post.
Previously undisclosed documents obtained by the New York Times reveal an effort by lawyers and top NRA officials to oust LaPierre who thus far has survived such challenges and continues to lead the NRA.
The ending of the organization’s relationship with Cooper was first reported by the Times, and occurred as LaPierre has reportedly been working with another NRA outside counsel, William Brewer, to fend off allegations of financial mismanagement of the organization.
Chris Cox, a longtime lobbyist for the NRA, was also ousted in June, after allegedly attempting to accomplish LaPierre’s removal from atop the group.
The NRA is also facing probes by the attorneys general in New York and the District of Columbia.
Despite also its recent internal turmoil, the NRA remains influential in the debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights in the U.S. Following two mass shootings earlier this month, LaPierre appeared this week to convince President Donald Trump to oppose new measures on background checks.
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