Former top NRA official skewers the gun group in upcoming book for 'appealing to the paranoia and darkest side of our members'

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesNational Rifle Association members look over pistols in the Ruger display at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 29, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Joshua Powell, the former chief of staff to the head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, tore into the organisation in an upcoming book set to be released next week,The New York Times reported.

In “Inside the N.R.A.: A Tell-All Account of Corruption, Greed, and Paranoia Within the Most Powerful Political Group in America,” Powell accused the NRA of “appealing to the paranoia and darkest side of our members.”

He also wrote that LaPierre “couldn’t run an organisation on a fiscally sound basis to save his life” and that he appeals to “the extreme fringe” to fund the NRA’s activities.

Powell was fired from the NRA in January, according to The Times, and his book is the first in which a former senior member of the powerful group offers such a scathing account of its inner workings.

He also wrote about the outsize influence the NRA has in both Republican politics and on President Donald Trump, specifically. In one instance, Powell said that after a 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, Trump “seemed to support imposing some of the toughest new restrictions on guns in decades.”

However, Powell continued, the president shifted course after he met with LaPierre and Chris Cox, who at the time was the NRA’s top lobbyist, The Times reported. After the meeting, the book said, Trump “was reminded who had helped elect him” and “did a one-eighty, completely changing his tune.”

Both Powell and LaPierre are defendants in a lawsuit the New York attorney general’s office filed last month seeking to dissolve the group.

Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, cited 18 “causes of action” that she said showed how the NRA violated multiple state laws and abused its status as a nonprofit organisation. The lawsuit was the culmination of a more than year-long investigation by James’ office into the NRA’s activities related to campaign finance, tax compliance, and board compensation.

The lawsuit alleged that four top NRA officials, including Powell and LaPierre, “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA.” It also said they improperly managed the NRA’s money and broke several state and federal laws.

In addition to being mired in infighting, the NRA has drawn scrutiny over its ties to Maria Butina, a Russian national who was convicted last year of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian state.

The organisation was also at the centre of an FBI investigation in 2018 into whether a prominent Kremlin-linked gun-rights-activist used it to illegally funnel money to help sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favour.

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