A top NRA official is leaving the group.
Jason Ouimet, head of the gun-rights group’s lobbying arm and political action committee (PAC), told The Reload on Tuesday he is stepping down. Ouimet, who has run the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) and the Political Victory Fund for nearly four years, said he is leaving to join a consulting firm.
“I am taking a new job at Shumaker Advisors,” Ouimet told The Reload. “I’ll have more to come.”
Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, said Ouimet is leaving “to pursue other opportunities.” He thanked Ouimet for his service to the NRA and said the group doesn’t have any news on his replacement.
“We wish Jason all the best with his new endeavors, and know he will continue to be a strong advocate for the Second Amendment,” LaPierre said in a statement published to social media shortly after The Reload broke the news. “We expect to make an announcement soon regarding an interim director of ILA. In the meantime, there will be no change to the advocacy or programs taking place within ILA. I will work with the organization’s leadership team to ensure the continued advancement of our mission in the political and grassroots arenas.”
The resignation comes as the NRA faces mounting problems that threaten its future. The group has lost more than a million members since accusations of financial impropriety were leveled against LaPierre in 2019, which has led to a dramatic drop in revenue. The same accusations have entangled the group in a years-long legal struggle that could see LaPierre and other NRA leaders removed from their positions.
Ouimet was promoted to head of ILA after Chris Cox, the group’s previous top lobbyist, was forced out during a leadership fight in the wake of the corruption allegations. The 2019 internal chaos saw the removal of Cox, then-president Oliver North, and longtime treasurer Woody Phillips among others. The organization has shed nearly a dozen dissenting members from its 76-member board of directors and cut hundreds of employees since the fight began, but LaPierre has remained Executive Vice President.
Many of the allegations against the group have centered around LaPierre’s use of the non-profit’s money, often funneled through the group’s former top contractor Ackerman McQueen, to pay for extravagant personal expenses, such as luxury suits, globetrotting vacations, and private flights for him and his family members. The NRA has also been accused of operating without safeguards usually associated with spending by large non-profits. It has spent millions of dollars with companies who have no formal contract with the NRA and who sometimes have personal relationships with NRA leaders that feature extravagant gift-giving, as is exemplified by repeated free trips by LaPierre on a megayacht owned by David McKenzie who also owns NRA contractor Membership Marketing Partners.
Despite the controversy surrounding those practices, the NRA has continued to spend large sums of money on controversial expenses without board-approved contracts.
And now it’s losing another key piece of its operation in Ouimet, who had been with the group for nearly 20 years. Ouimet got his start doing field research in battleground states for the Republican National Committee during the Bush 2000 campaign just after graduating from Kent State. From there he moved to the National Republican Senatorial Committee before eventually being hired as a legislative assistant for Senator Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.).
Ouimet joined the NRA as a lobbyist in 2005. He later moved to deputy director of federal affairs and then director of federal affairs before ultimately replacing Cox as executive director of ILA in 2019. He has overseen the NRA’s lobbying and much of its political spending efforts since that time.