After the NRA's funding plummeted by over $300 million, questions surfaced about the group's finances. The new book "Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA" revealed that president Wayne LaPierre was terrified he was going to jail. It's one of many reasons that Oliver North was brought into the organization to essentially become a scapegoat.
The New Republic's write-up of the book highlighted LaPierre's paranoia as the broke organization was hemorrhaging money on "bloated contracting arrangements and a self-dealing executive caste." In response, the NRA brought on more expensive consultants.
Bill Brewer, who the book described as being the son-in-law to Angus McQueen, the named partner for the infamous marketing firm Ackerman McQueen that funneled spending money to LaPierre and his family. Brewer and McQueen hated each other, but LaPierre reportedly "blurted out" his greatest fear, "according to the sworn testimony of another NRA higher-up."
"Bill Brewer's the only one who can keep me out of jail. He's the only one between me [and] the guys with the handcuffs, [between] me and an orange jumpsuit," said the book, noting that LaPierre denies he said it.
It was clear LaPierre was starting to panic so they implemented a two-fold strategy. The NRA filed a lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen blaming them for the financial issues and hiring "Iran-Contra bagman" Oliver North to take over the gun lobby. North was hired on the payroll of Ackerman McQueen, something LaPierre also claims he had nothing to do with.
The strategy was one that LaPierre used in the early 1990s after he blew through $85 million in assets under his leadership.
"Aided by these powerful contractors, LaPierre was able to turn back the tide," the book described. "LaPierre's friends schemed dutifully. Mercury Group president Tony Makris, along with board member John Milius, invited a [Neal] Knox ally to meet up." Knox previously served as the chief of the NRA.
"Over drinks, the two deceived the Knox ally to join a fake conspiracy to bribe Wayne into leaving the NRA," said the book. "Milius then informed Wayne of the bribe scheme, the blame of which fell on the Knox camp. Wayne publicly declared himself shocked that he would be the target of a bribe from the Knox camp."
So when LaPierre was faced with the group's crisis in 2019, he tried the same strategy, "claiming to be the subject of a bribery and extortion attempt." The board ousted North that year after an "alleged extortion scheme against chief executive," the Washington Post headline read at the time.
"The NRA's chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, wrote a letter to the board Thursday accusing North of plotting to remove him from the group by threatening to release to the board 'damaging' information about LaPierre," said the Post in the report. "He claimed North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel perhaps best known for his role in the Iran-contra affair, was pressuring him to resign over alleged financial transgressions."
"Delivered by a member of our Board on behalf of his employer, the exhortation was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA," LaPierre said in a letter published by the Wall Street Journal.
It didn't work this time, however. The idea that North and board members believed LaPierre had "financial transgressions" only added to allegations about the president's lavish lifestyle and $300,000 Rodeo Drive shopping spree on the NRA dime, which was reported months prior.
The book is on sale now, and The New Republic's write-up can be read here.