A Manhattan judge on Thursday denied Oliver North’s request that the NRA cover his legal fees as the Marine colonel and radical gun advocacy group continue an all-out court battle.
North, the NRA’s former president, is locked in an ongoing fight with CEO Wayne LaPierre over management of the gun group’s finances.
North says he was retaliated against for sounding the alarm about questionable spending on the NRA’s ad firm, Ackerman McQueen. He was also concerned about LaPierre’s extravagant lifestyle. The NRA counters that North concocted the allegations as part of a power grab within the politically powerful group.
As the fight continues, North must cover his own legal expenses, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen ruled at the conclusion of an hour-long hearing.
“The NRA could agree to pay Col. North’s fees….but it’s not required to,” Cohen said, adding that the NRA’s bylaws do not give North a “blank check.”
North’s attorney Alexander Zolan had argued unsuccessfully that the NRA bylaws required the group cover costs related to the performance of his duties as president. Zolan declined to say whether he would appeal.
The allegations of self-dealing and mismanagement at the highest levels of the NRA have called its non-profit status into question, leading some to question its financial viability. State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting an investigation into the NRA’s tax-exempt status and has subpoenaed an array of internal records.
Zolan said in court that North believed he was doing his duty by raising questions about “potential financial misconduct, including $2 million billed per month by the Ackerman firm and personal expenses for Wayne LaPierre.”
“Mr. LaPierre told Col. North to ‘stay in his lane,'” Zolan said.
NRA attorney Svetlana Eisenberg scoffed at the idea that North, who did not run for reelection as NRA president in April, raised concerns in good faith.
“Mr. North was not a whistleblower. Mr. North was acting to deflect scrutiny of his own misconduct,” she said.
“Ackerman joined forces with Mr. North and plotted to extort Mr. LaPierre.”
Judge Cohen said the “lurid facts” of the dispute were not relevant to his ruling on legal expenses.
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