NRA Also Elevated LaPierre Loyalists Charles Cotton to NRA President & Willes Lee to First Vice President
NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, today released the following statements after the board of the National Rifle Association voted to re-elect Wayne LaPierre as Executive Vice President and elevated LaPierre loyalists First Vice President Charles Cotton to President and Second Vice President Willes Lee to First Vice President.
“The fact that Wayne LaPierre is keeping his job after using NRA funds to pay for private jets, racking up eye-popping legal fees, and generating more outrageous headlines than an issue of ‘The Onion’ says everything you need to know about the independence — or lack thereof — of the organization’s board,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Under the leadership of Wayne LaPierre and his handpicked loyalists, the NRA is becoming more extreme — and more out of touch with the American people — with every passing year.”
“Today’s NRA elections show that the NRA board of LaPierre allies serves only as a rubber stamp, and that will ultimately be the NRA’s undoing,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The fact that the NRA is sticking with the same leadership who got them into this mess is nothing but good news for the gun safety movement — the more time the NRA is stuck in court, the better.”
LaPierre has held the position for 30 years and has been the key figure in the NRA’s embrace of far-right extremist ideology. His use of private jets, yacht “security retreats” paid for by an alleged stakeholder in multiple NRA vendors, and a $17 million golden parachute have figured prominently in several lawsuits and investigations of the NRA. Former employees, confidants, and board members have testified that LaPierre’s management of the NRA was a “trainwreck” and the organization was run as “Wayne’s kingdom” where he employed what he himself allegedly called “management by chaos.”
Cotton has served as Chairman of the NRA Audit Committee for several years. In that role, Cotton leads the committee responsible for overseeing the implementation and compliance of the organization’s internal financial controls, policy for reviewing related party transactions, and system for handling of whistleblower complaints. During his tenure, the NRA has come under significant scrutiny, including an investigation by the New York Attorney General, for alleged financial mismanagement and self-dealing. In its suit to dissolve the NRA, the New York AG has alleged “[t]he Audit Committee failed to perform its statutory, bylaw, and charter responsibilities.”
Lee has also been a supporter of LaPierre despite the crises under his leadership. He even admitted to not knowing that LaPierre received $300,000 in excess benefits that had to be paid back to the NRA, and yet still defended LaPierre’s character and judgement. Lee also has a history of spreading conspiracy theories, from claiming that Democrats are enacting “genocide” in American cities and blaming voters for supporting them, to suggesting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “planted evidence” at the January 6th insurrection, to spreading lies and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 like measures to contain the virus were a political hoax from the “leftists” to “keep us masked, subjugated, [and] docile.”
Earlier this week, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund launched a new report,“Broken and Bankrupt: The NRA in 2021,” that catalogues the extent of the NRA’s mismanagement and chaos over the past year. Everytown has chronicled the revelations from the NRA’s various legal woes at NRAWatch.org. For further information about the state of play for the NRA, please email [email protected].