The National Rifle Association on Monday said it has reelected Charles Cotton as president and Wayne LaPierre as CEO and executive vice president, despite recent controversies surrounding their leadership, including efforts by New York officials to shut down the group over alleged “fraud and abuse.”
The election results were announced at the end of the group’s annual meeting in Houston and comes at a critical time for the organization, as Democrats and activists are making new calls for gun control, including an assault weapons ban, expanded background checks and incentives for states to establish red flag laws.
“The NRA stands strong, safe and secure,” Cotton said in a statement at the end of the three-day meeting, which began on May 27. “We have never been better positioned to protect the Second Amendment or lend our collective voices in support of important issues like school security.”
LaPierre said he was “honored to continue my work for the NRA, and to join our members in their campaign to promote responsible gun ownership and defend Second Amendment freedom for all law-abiding Americans.”
LaPierre also recognized the victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, calling for improvement in mental health services and making schools “more safe and secure.”
LaPierre easily survived a challenge from former Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West, who ran to replace him as executive vice president. West ended up receiving only one vote, according to an NRA press release announcing the results of the election.
The shooting in Uvalde and another mass killing at a Buffalo supermarket have put new scrutiny on the NRA and its influence over Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“We know all too well the vice grip that the NRA and the MAGA wing hold over the GOP,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor Thursday, explaining the slim chances for getting a deal on gun-control legislation in the Senate.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) canceled their planned appearances at the NRA convention in Houston, while former President Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attended despite the timing.
GOP and Democratic strategists say the political influence has waned in recent years over ongoing turmoil over its finances.
Trump chastised the group in 2019 and demanded that it “get its act together quickly” in the face of allegations of financial misconduct.
The group tried to declare bankruptcy last year to avoid an effort by New York Attorney General Letitia James to shutter it over allegations of financial mismanagement and abuse of power. A federal bankruptcy judge, however, ruled the bankruptcy had not been filed in good faith.
Even so, the advocacy group retains considerable clout with a budget of $300 million, according to The Washington Post.