As the National Rifle Association has been consumed by public infighting, Wayne LaPierre has maintained a firm grip on its leadership. Now a major benefactor is preparing to lead an insurgency among wealthy contributors to oust LaPierre as chief executive, the New York Times reports. A rebellion would represent a troublesome threat to LaPierre as his organization’s finances and political machine are strained amid several legal battles, notably the New York attorney general’s investigation into its tax-exempt status. Donor David Dell’Aquila said the internal warfare “has become a daily soap opera and it’s decaying and destroying the NRA from within, and it needs to stop.” He added, “Even if these allegations regarding Mr. LaPierre and his leadership are false, he has become radioactive and must step down.”
Until that happens, Dell’Aquila, a retired technology consultant who has given $100,000 to the NRA, said he would suspend donations, including his pledge of an estate worth several million dollars. He said he was among a network of wealthy donors who would withhold $134 million in pledges, much of it earmarked years in advance through estate planning, and would give the gun group’s board a list of demands for reform. “The donors are rebelling,” said a firearms industry executive, saying he believed that the leadership turmoil was “helping to destroy, temporarily, the strength of the NRA as one of the strongest lobbying groups.” The extent of any rebellion is difficult to discern, and the NRA insisted it still had the firm backing of its donor base. LaPierre has the support of the NRA’s 76-member board. It would take a three-fourths vote by the board and one of its committees to oust him. The turmoil has stoked fear among some Republicans that the NRA’s political potency could be blunted heading into the 2020 elections.