In what the New York Times calls the continuing palace intrigue at the National Rifle Association, the group suspended its second-in-command and top lobbyist Christopher Cox, accusing him of complicity in the failed coup against chief executive Wayne LaPierre. The accusation came in a lawsuit against former NRA president Oliver North, who led the attempt to oust LaPierre before the group’s annual convention in April. In the suit, the NRA said text messages and emails demonstrated that “another errant NRA fiduciary, Chris Cox … participated” in what was described as a conspiracy. The court filing includes text exchanges in which Cox and a board member appear to be discussing an effort to oust LaPierre. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said Cox and a top aide, Scott Christman, had been placed on administrative leave.
Cox responded that, “The allegations against me are offensive and patently false. For over 24 years I have been a loyal and effective leader in this organization.” The lawsuit is likely to send new shock waves through the NRA. Cox has worked for the NRA since 1995 and led its lobbying arm since 2002. He has been a leading presence at the organization’s gatherings. He has been a fervent defender of the AR-15, the semiautomatic rifle used in many mass shootings. Together, Cox, 49, and LaPierre, 69, have been the public faces of the NRA, but they have had an uneasy relationship. Cox runs the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which has a separate media relations team from the NRA, and his choice of consultants has also sometimes diverged from LaPierre’s.