The National Rifle Association’s board of directors re-elected its longtime leader Wayne LaPierre in Houston on Monday, despite the group’s deteriorating finances, claims he misused its funds and a challenge from a prominent Texas Republican.
The 76-member board voted 54-1 in favor of LaPierre. The native New Yorker has held the title of NRA’s executive vice president since 1991, according to Phillip Journey, a board member who attended the meeting. It’s unclear if all board members were in attendance or if any abstained from the balloting.
The group’s annual meeting became a source of controversy, coming days after a mass elementary-school shooting in the state that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Protests were held outside the convention center during the event, and some speakers dropped out.
During his three decades in office, the 72-year-old has overseen the transformation of the NRA from a group once associated with hunters and marksmen into one of the most potent forces in American politics. Under LaPierre, the group became a generous supporter of mostly Republican candidates and was the largest outside spender backing former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Over the past few years, however, LaPierre has been fighting allegations that he misused NRA funds and that the organization’s board engaged in self-dealing. New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the group, LaPierre and other top executives in 2020, alleging they had misused millions of dollars of the New York-chartered nonprofit’s assets. The defendants have denied wrongdoing, and may face trial later this year.
LaPierre was challenged at Monday’s vote by Allen West, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and former head of the Texas GOP. West served on the NRA board for five years but resigned in 2021 due to “a lack of resolve to reform the organization in the face of quite serious, and substantiated, allegations of financial impropriety,” according to a letter he wrote the board on May 9.
West was nominated, and received his sole vote, from Journey, a family court judge in Wichita, Kansas, and NRA board member who has pushed to remove LaPierre over the allegations of financial wrongdoing.
It was the second year in a row that a rival has challenged LaPierre. Frustrations over his leadership were also voiced briefly on Saturday during its annual general meeting, when a member said that LaPierre had “brought shame down on this organization” and accused him of cowardice for failing to carry a firearm for personal protection.