Retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North will step down as president of the National Rifle Association, North said on Saturday, adding he was being forced out due to his allegations that NRA leaders engaged in financial improprieties.
In a letter to the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis read by an NRA board member, North, a conservative commentator best known for his central role in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair, said he had hoped to stand for re-election when his term ends on Monday.
“I am now informed that will not happen,” North said in the letter.
His departure came after NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre accused North of trying to oust him by threatening to release “damaging” information about him, according to a letter from LaPierre to NRA board members that was published by the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
NRA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
North, 75, who was named by the NRA as its president in May 2018, was a pivotal figure in the Iran-Contra affair involving secret sales of arms to Iran by Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration and the unlawful diversion of the proceeds to Nicaraguan rebels.
When he was appointed, LaPierre hailed him as “a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader.”
North, long a hero to some on the political right, was convicted in 1989 of three felonies related to the Iran-Contra affair, but his convictions were overturned on appeal in 1990.
He later became a conservative radio talk show host and frequent commentator on conservative television networks.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Daniel Wallis in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)