NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana / Stephen Gutowski

Wayne LaPierre Resigns From NRA

The longtime leader of the National Rifle Association is leaving the organization on the eve of a corruption trial.

Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, announced he plans to resign at the end of the month. Andrew Arulanandam, who was the group’s spokesperson until last month, will succeed him.

“With pride in all that we have accomplished, I am announcing my resignation from the NRA,” LaPierre said in his resignation statement. “I’ve been a card-carrying member of this organization for most of my adult life, and I will never stop supporting the NRA and its fight to defend Second Amendment freedom. My passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.”

The resignation marks the end of LaPierre’s decades-long run at the top of the NRA and the gun-rights movement. It also comes as the New York case against the NRA, which centered on accusations that LaPierre used millions of NRA dollars for lavish personal expenses, is set to begin next week. LaPierre’s exit calls into question how the case against the group might proceed and how the NRA itself moves forward.

74-year-old LaPierre has served as NRA executive vice president since 1991. He led the organization to new heights of membership and political influence while serving as the face of the group during that time. Under his stewardship, the NRA became one of the most powerful advocacy organizations in the country, with governors, senators, and even presidents turning to them for advice and backing.

“Wayne has done as much to protect Second Amendment freedom as anyone,” NRA President Charles Cotton said in a statement. “Wayne is a towering figure in the fight for constitutional freedom, but one of his other talents is equally important: he built an organization that is bigger than him.”

But he also stands accused of using members’ money to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included expensive clothes, private flights, and luxury vacations. The allegations and internal fight over them have prompted an enormous exodus of NRA members, with over a million leaving, according to internal documents first reported by The Reload. The ordeal has also left the NRA’s finances in shambles, with upwards of $70 million being spent on administrative legal fees alone over the past three years.

LaPierre and the NRA have admitted to some wrongdoing but also denied many of the allegations and claimed reforms have been enacted to deal with the issues. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.) has argued the group’s reforms have been of little consequence, and those responsible for the misuse of charity funds are essentially still in charge.

“While the end of the Wayne LaPierre era is an important victory in our case, our push for accountability continues,” James said in a statement. “LaPierre’s resignation validates our claims against him, but it will not insulate him or the NRA from accountability. All charities in New York state must adhere to the rule of law, and my office will not tolerate gross mismanagement or top executives funneling millions into their own pockets. Our case will move ahead, and we look forward to proving the facts in court.”

LaPierre’s resignation could help the NRA challenge that narrative in court when the corruption case begins. However, the current makeup of NRA leadership and how they got to their positions may blunt the impact of the resignation.

Arulanandam has been a close advisor to LaPierre for decades. He was one of only a handful of people, alongside LaPierre and outside counsel William Brewer, who knew about the NRA’s (failed) bankruptcy filing before it was announced to the public or even the group’s Board of Directors.

Up until last month, Arulanadam served as an NRA spokesperson. However, he was appointed head of General Operations after the previous head was removed. That unusual move put him in line to succeed LaPierre as executive vice president–at least until the Board decides on a permanent appointment.

Cotton, a longtime LaPierre supporter who has held multiple key positions on the Board, was able to retain his position longer than usual after pushing out a rival and having NRA rules amended. So, LaPierre’s leading allies remain in control of the group even with his resignation.

“I have enormous confidence in our board of directors, executive leadership team, and my long-time colleague Andrew Arulanandam,” LaPierre said in his statement. “Andrew knows every facet of this organization and has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me in every arena imaginable. Andrew knows how to help the NRA win – he’s been one of the key authors of our playbook for decades.”

The trial portion of the New York case against the NRA is set to begin on Monday.

UPDATE 1-5-2024 10:34 PM EASTERN: This piece has been updated to include additional information on LaPierre’s resignation.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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