Oliver North, who was pushed out as president of the United States National Rifle Association in a dispute within the gun-rights group, has taken legal action over his ouster.
The retired Marine said in court documents filed that he was thwarted when he tried to raise alarm bells about alleged misspending and denied that he tried to oust the organisation's longtime top executive.
The documents detail concerns North said he raised over several months and the efforts he said he took to try to have NRA spending audited and reviewed by an outside, independent entity.
He said the red flags began to emerge this past spring when he heard that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre had received tens of thousands of dollars in clothing, private jet travel and other perks from the group's longtime marketing firm, Ackerman McQueen; he also has questioned money being paid to the law firm that has represented NRA in its fight against that firm.
North said in the filings that each time he raised concerns about potential financial misconduct, his efforts were "thwarted" by LaPierre and the NRA's lead counsel, William A. Brewer III.
"LaPierre - demonstrating his total dictatorial control over the NRA ... stopped all of North's inquiries and prevented others at the NRA from looking into the concerns that North raised," he said in the court documents. "This included a retaliatory campaign against North, waged by LaPierre and Brewer, in an effort to stop North from responsibly addressing the allegations against LaPierre and the multimillion-dollar monthly payments to Brewer."
The documents were submitted as part of a lawsuit the NRA filed against North last month in New York state Supreme Court objecting to his request to be reimbursed for legal fees. North has received subpoenas related to the NRA lawsuits against Ackerman McQueen as well as a U.S. Senate investigation into NRA operations.
"The NRA views this as a misguided attempt to deflect from reality; Colonel North played a central role in an extortion scheme that caused the issues for which he now seeks indemnification," Brewer said in a statement. "The NRA will not look the other way when it appears that crimes against the (NRA) have been committed by people motivated by their own self-interests."
The NRA has been embroiled in legal battles and internal disputes on several fronts over the past year. Besides North's departure as president, the NRA's top lobbyist, Chris Cox, recently resigned after he had been placed on leave for what LaPierre claimed was his role in seeking to oust him.
Australian Associated Press