The National Rifle Association board of directors have voted to reelect CEO Wayne LaPierre his position as the group’s chief executive officer – despite a scandal over the group’s financing.
A NRA spokesman tweeted the results of the vote, which took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, Saturday. The organization did not share its vote tally.
In addition to LaPierre, Charles Cotton was elected NRA president, Wiles K. Lee first vice president and David Coy second vice president.
The NRA board of directors reelected Wayne LaPierre as CEO of the group despite multiple controversies facing the organization under his leadership
‘The proceedings in Charlotte were an amazing celebration of NRA fellowship and freedom.,’ Cotton said in a statement. ‘Under the direction of Wayne LaPierre, the NRA is strong and secure – well-positioned to chart its course for the future.’
Cotton, an attorney from Texas, claimed shortly after the 2015 church massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that the bloodbath was the result of actions by the church’s anti-gun pastor, who was among nine killed in the shooting.
Cotton in an online forum said that had the Rev. Clementa Pinckney as a state senator not voted against a concealed-carry bill in 2011, the nine people murdered in the shooting, including Pinckney himself, might have been able to defend themselves when mass shooter Dylann Roof opened fire at a Bible study class at the building, which is one of the oldest historically black churches in the United States.
In addition to LaPierre, the board voted Texas attorney Charles Cotton as president
The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the vote.
Saturday’s vote came as the NRA continues to face a lawsuit NY AG James filed against it in August, 2020, accusing the group’s leadership of using the organization as their ‘personal piggy bank’ for years.
She is seeking to have the organization dissolved and its $200million assets redistributed saying its top leaders had illegally diverted millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization ‘for personal use by senior leadership.’
She claimed that LaPierre and three other top executives used tens of millions of dollars from NRA’s coffers to pay for trips for themselves and their families to the Bahamas, all-expenses-paid African safaris, private jets, and expensive meals.
LaPierre and the NRA denied all wrongdoing.
The NRA filed for bankruptcy in January as part of a restructuring plan in a failed bid to leave New York in favor of Texas.
Cotton had claimed that the 2015 Charleston church massacre (pictured) was the fault of a state senator killed in the shooting who voted against a concealed-carry bill in the state
It claimed the move would help it escape what it called a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, although its headquarters are in Fairfax, Virginia.
In May, a federal judge denied the group’s bankruptcy petition, arguing that it had been filed in bad faith, and slammed LaPierre’s conduct as ‘nothing less than shocking’.
The decision by US Bankruptcy Judge Harlin Hale, outlined in a 33-page ruling, marked a major blow to the NRA after the month-long bankruptcy trial, and meant the group could not use bankruptcy to reorganize in the gun-friendly Lone Star state and remain incorporated in New York.
It also cleared the way for James’ lawsuit to continue through the courts.
James had asked the court to throw out the petition accusing the group’s leadership of trying to ‘remove the NRA from regulatory oversight.’
Hale ruled in favor of James’ office, saying the NRA had not filed for bankruptcy under a financial purpose set out by the Bankruptcy Code, but instead filed ‘in bad faith.’
In addition to LaPierre and Cotton, Wiles K. Lee (left) was elected first vice president of the organization, and David Coy second vice president
The organization announced the results of the vote on Saturday, but did not release a vote tally
‘The Court finds there is cause to dismiss this bankruptcy case as not having been filed in good faith both because it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid a state regulatory scheme,’ the judge wrote.
‘The question the court is faced with is whether the existential threat facing the NRA is the type of threat that the Bankruptcy Code is meant to protect against.
‘The court believes it is not.’
The judge also said ‘what concerns the court most’ was the ‘nothing less than shocking’ conduct of LaPierre when he made the Chapter 11 filing.
‘What concerns the court most though is the surreptitious manner in which Mr. Pierre obtained and exercised authority to file bankruptcy for the NRA,’ read the ruling.
‘Excluding so many people from the process of deciding to file for bankruptcy, including the vast majority of the board of directors, the chief financial officer, and the general counsel, is nothing less than shocking.’
The NRA is still facing a corruption lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, (pictured) alleging its leadership diverted millions to fund a lavish lifestyle
Hale’s dismissal is without prejudice, meant the NRA could try again to file for bankruptcy, but the judge said the problems identified in its operations could result in the appointment of a trustee to oversee its affairs.
It has not made any further moves to do so.
During the proceedings, LaPierre admitted he had filed for bankruptcy because he wanted to move the organization to Texas where it would receive a friendlier welcome from Republican lawmakers.
He said he feared James would try to put it into receivership if the group stayed in New York.
He also tried to justify some of the spending within the organization saying hunting wildlife was a justifiable business expense.