Chris Cox, NRA's Top Lobbyist, Resigns Amid Organization's Continued Turmoil

Chris Cox, second in command at the National Rifle Association and its top political lobbyist, resigned amid allegations of a coup attempt and continued turmoil at the nation's oldest gun rights organization.

Chris Cox, NRA's Top Lobbyist, Resigns Amid Organization's Continued Turmoil

Chris Cox, former director of the NRA-ILA, resigned days after being placed on administrative leave amid accusations of a conspiracy to oust association CEO Wayne LaPierre. (Photo: NRA)

Chris Cox, second in command at the National Rifle Association and its top political lobbyist, resigned amid allegations of a coup attempt and continued turmoil at the nation's oldest gun rights organization. 

Cox had been with the NRA since 1995, led its Institute for Legislative Action since 2002 and was seen by many as a likely successor to Wayne LaPierre, the organization's CEO and Executive Vice President. According to the NRA, the ILA was established in 1975 and "is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Earlier this year reports began circulating about internal unrest, an investigation into its finances and issues between the NRA and its longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, which is based in Oklahoma City. That was revealed more broadly during the NRA's annual convention in Indianapolis, where the lid blew with accusations of impropriety against LaPierre and an effort by former NRA President Col. Oliver North to oust him, public accusations by LaPierre of blackmail by North, the ouster of North and vice president Richard Childress before and after the convention, and leaks about the problems to The New York Times and other outlets.

The NRA is suing Ackerman McQueen for $40 million, which is what the NRA paid the agency in 2017. This came after the NRA's initial lawsuit, filed in April, in which it said the agency refused to provide documents about billings and payments. Leaked documents after that filing revealed LaPierre charged bills for clothing and travel to the agency, among other billings, totaling about $542,000.

Throughout all this Cox's name didn't arise publicly. But on June 20 he was placed on administrative leave, according to the Times and The Washington Post. The Post report said:

Cox, the NRA’s second-in-command and leader of its powerful political arm, was placed on administrative leave after the organization filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New York against former NRA president Oliver North, who resigned in April after accusing the NRA of exorbitant spending.

Chief executive Wayne LaPierre has accused North of attempting to extort the group. In its new suit, the NRA accused Cox of participating in a “conspiracy” with North.

According to the Times, lawsuit documents say the NRA has text messages implicating Cox. It added that the full context of the messages was unclear. Cox denied the allegations, telling the Times that charges he conspired with North are “offensive and patently false. For 24 years I have been a loyal and effective leader in this organization.”

On Wednesday, just days after being put on leave, Cox's association with the NRA was severed. The group also ended its 38-year association with Ackerman McQueen and shut down its live broadcasts on NRA TV. The latter was created and operated by the advertising firm, which said it will continue to fight the NRA via legal means.

“When given the opportunity to do the right thing, the NRA once again has taken action that we believe is intended to harm our company even at the expense of the NRA itself,” the company said in a statement published by the Associated Press.

“For Ackerman McQueen, it is time to move on to a new chapter without the chaos that has enveloped the NRA,” the statement continued. “Ackerman McQueen will continue to fight against the NRA’s repeated violations of its agreement with our company with every legal remedy available to us, but we will always be proud of the work that we completed during our 38-year relationship on behalf of the individual citizens that are the NRA.”

In a statement on the NRA site, LaPierre said the decision to shutter NRA TV was based on "our conclusion that our longtime advertising firm and website vendor failed to deliver upon many contractual obligations it made to our Association." The statement said videos will be repackaged and information still will be distributed on the NRA's website and social media channels.


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