Following weeks of infighting within the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Daily Beast reported on Saturday that New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation into the organization's financial improprieties.
The NRA's leadership has found itself beleaguered with its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, and its former president, Oliver North, blaming each other for trying to oust the other. LaPierre has said that North had been trying to get rid of him, but it was North who was finally ousted, hours before the New York attorney general announced an investigation into the NRA's finances.
"The Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation related to the National Rifle Association (NRA). As part of this investigation, the Attorney General has issued subpoenas," a spokesperson for the attorney general's office told NPR.
The New York Times confirmed the report, claiming that several other businesses with ties to the NRA had also received subpoenas.
Allegations against Oliver North center around NRA's contract with an ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, over promotional work which the company apparently failed to deliver. NRA lawyers have alleged that while no real sponsorship deal existed between the two organizations, Oliver North managed to take a salary from both the NRA and Ackerman McQueen at the same time.
After news of the investigation against the NRA was made public, a lawyer for the pro-gun group confirmed the reports, saying the group was ready to cooperate with New York prosecutors.
"The NRA will fully cooperate with any inquiry into its finances," outside counsel William A. Brewer III said in a statement.The NRA was the subject of major controversies last year after Parkland shooting survivors started a campaign against the pro-gun group, with many of its prominent members, including spokesperson Dana Loesch, getting into national TV debates with teenagers advocating gun control. The months following the shooting saw NRA aggressively push its agenda, with Wayne LaPierre reassuring the group's patrons that Washington lobbyists would never allow for gun reform to take place.
However, the developments also invited further scrutiny of the organization which has not always been transparent about its funding sources. It is not yet clear what exactly the investigators are looking for, but observers believe that the group's "non-profit" status will be seriously under threat if financial irregularities are found. Such an instance would be a major victory for gun control advocates who have long been demanding that the NRA become more transparent about its financial dealings.