In retrospect, it was weird.
On a mid-July day at National Rifle Association headquarters, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre gathered with top officials from the gun group’s lobbying arm for a frank conversation. Turmoil had rocked the organization for months, reaching a zenith with the resignation of top lobbyist Chris Cox, who for years had helmed the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Affairs (ILA). The association had grown balkanized, with top staff torn between LaPierre and Cox. And with the LaPierre camp on the march, Cox loyalists had reason to be nervous about their job security.
So LaPierre sought to reassure the senior ILA officials who gathered that day, according to two people familiar with the meeting. He said ILA was “moving forward” and that staff there would have a “clean slate.” His message, which attendees then relayed to their subordinates, was simple: People could breathe easy about their jobs, and things were stabilizing. His message was wrong.
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