The National Rifle Association has reportedly suspended Chris W. Cox, the head of its legislative-lobbying arm, accusing him of being part of a failed coup to oust CEO Wayne LaPierre.
The gun-rights group filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court late Wednesday trying to block Oliver North, its ousted former president, from collecting fees he says he’s entitled to.
But in the filings the NRA implicated Mr. Cox — described in court papers as “another errant NRA fiduciary” — as a participant, along with Mr. North, in an alleged “conspiracy” to get rid of Mr. LaPierre.
The court filing includes copies of text messages between Mr. Cox and Dan Boren, an NRA Board member, though it’s unclear exactly what they’re discussing.
The New York Times reported that Mr. Cox has been “placed on administrative leave” as the NRA looks into the matter.
In a statement to the newspaper, Mr. Cox said the allegations against him are “offensive and patently false.”
“For over 24 years I have been a loyal and effective leader in this organization,” he said. “My efforts have always been focused on serving the members of the National Rifle Association, and I will continue to focus all of my energy on carrying out our core mission of defending the Second Amendment.”
The underlying lawsuit said Mr. North wants the NRA to indemnify him for legal fees and expenses. The gun-rights group itself has subpoenaed him, and the Senate Finance Committee has also requested documents.
But the lawsuit says Mr. North conspired with Ackerman McQueen, its longtime advertising firm, and that it won’t spend money to pay his legal fees “after he chose to pursue his own financial interests at the direct expense of the NRA.”
“Simply put, the NRA exists to fight for the Second Amendment — not pay other people’s bills,” the lawsuit says.
An attorney for Mr. North said they would respond to the lawsuit in court filings, but otherwise had no comment.
Mr. Cox, along with Mr. LaPierre, has been one of the public faces of the gun-rights group, which has battled financial issues and internal turmoil that spilled into the open in April.
Ahead of its annual convention, the group sued Ackerman McQueen, its longtime advertising firm, accusing the company of dragging its feet on supplying information it said it needed to comply with its legal obligations.
The tumult came to a head at the group’s annual convention in Indianapolis, where it was announced that Mr. North would not be seeking another term as president.
Mr. LaPierre had accused Mr. North and Ackerman of trying to extort him by threatening to release allegedly damaging information about him unless he agreed to step down.
Mr. North had said he was tasking a special committee to look into alleged financial improprieties on the part of Mr. LaPierre he said could threaten the NRA’s status as a nonprofit group.
Mr. LaPierre ultimately won out in the power struggle. He was re-elected, and Carolyn D. Meadows was installed as the group’s new president.
Ackerman moved last month to end its longtime relationship with the group.