Steve Hart, the longtime lawyer for the National Rifle Association board, has been suspended from that role, two people with knowledge of the move told The Daily Beast.
In addition, Col. Oliver North–who announced his departure from the powerful gun rights group this morning–has warned board members that the organization could lose its nonprofit status.
A spokesperson for the NRA’s outside law firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and neither did Hart. A lawyer for North declined to comment.
Hart represented the board for years, and his suspension came before North announced that he is stepping away from his leadership role at the organization after only six months on the job.
The lawyer’s ouster represents the departure of another senior, long-time NRA insider with detailed knowledge of the organization’s troubles. And it comes as internal turmoil and sniping rocks the gun-rights group.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre wrote a letter to the board claiming that North tried to blackmail him into leaving the organization. The NRA also claimed in an update to a lawsuit against its long-time advertising vendor, Ackerman McQueen, that North double-dipped by simultaneously taking a salary from the firm and being on contract with it to make a documentary series for NRATV.
North, meanwhile, told the board recently that he fears serious financial mismanagement by the NRA’s leadership. He recently wrote a letter to board members raising concerns and announcing the start of a crisis management committee. “I did this because I am deeply concerned that these allegations could threaten our nonprofit status,” North wrote, per a copy of the memo reviewed by The Daily Beast.
North also told board members he’d tasked the committee with investigating “allegations of financial misconduct related to Mr. LaPierre, which have been made in response to the NRA’s recently filed lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen.”
“We are facing a serious crisis,” North continued. “To date, my repeated efforts to inquire about the propriety of management’s financial decisions have consistently been rebuffed.”
“We need responsible leadership and advice from outside professionals to appropriately deal with this crisis,” he added.