A former high-ranking official of the National Rifle Association member says gun owners should be “horrified” by what he’s seen inside the problematic organization.
Joshua Powell, who formerly served as chief to staff to longtime NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, is stepping down from the lobby and publishing a book that accuses its leaders of decades worth of mismanagements and fraud, in which he says shows the organization is a haven for financial and moral messiness. Powell sat down with ABC News for an interview and explained that the lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which seeks for the NRA to be dissolved over “illegal misconduct,” barely touches on the Association’s corruption. “I think the NRA faces a massive threat. I think that the attorney general is really at the tip of the iceberg in understanding what’s gone on at the [NRA] for 30 years,” said Powell.
There are four top NRA executives, including Powell, that are named in the lawsuit. Powell said he is now looking to move away from the lobby and doubled down on claims of alleged mismanagement of millions of dollars in charitable donations by top execs for their own personal use. He also condemned the org’s stance on the issue of gun violence, particularly its response to the slew of school shootings and domestic terrorist attacks. He called it self-serving and dangerous, ABC News reports. “Gun owners across America should be horrified by what I saw inside of the NRA,” Powell said.
An NRA spokesperson wrote a statement that challenged Powell’s intent for speaking out. “This is a fictional account of the NRA, period,” said Andrew Arulanandam, the managing director of NRA Public Affairs. “Mr. Powell was effusive in his praise of NRA leadership and the Association’s mission — right up until the day he was fired. He has now reversed course on every position he ever took during his time with the NRA. The facts are, Mr. Powell was replaced as an officer in December 2018, relieved of all of his professional obligations in fall 2019, and, thereafter, terminated in January of this year for misappropriation of funds. Those facts tell you all you need to know about the veracity of the book and Mr. Powell’s motivations.”
But Powell says he is still a proud gun-owner and described himself as a “huge Second Amendment supporter.” He said as the NRA’s “No. 2 guy,” he “worked side by side” with LaPierre over several years. But an NRA spokesperson said that Powell “had zero input or influence on the NRA’s political or legislative strategy.” On the other hand, Powell says he was involved in “every single important conversation that went on in the NRA.” Powell went on to say that his passion for the NRA dried up when LaPierre’s alleged misuse of members’ money came to his attention. He called his previous work with the org “soul-sucking,” and he said it was a “low-point in [his] life.” In his forthcoming book, “Inside the NRA: A Tell-All Account of Corruption, Greed, and Paranoia Within the Most Powerful Political Group in America,” Powell speaks on his disappointment in LaPierre, a person he says he once “look[ed] up to.”
He accuses LaPierre of brainwashing the public about gun violence and “stoking a toxic debate” for the purposes of “keeping those donation dollars coming.” “I think the biggest transgression of the NRA under Wayne was that he turned the NRA into an organization of ‘No,’ in response to any effort to quell gun violence. He helped to create and fuel the toxicity of the gun debate over the years until it became outright explosive,” Powell writes. “Wayne, in essence, bowed to the most militant and extreme faction of the NRA’s five million members. Whenever the organization fell short in its funding drives, Wayne would ‘pour gasoline on the fire’ to ignite donations. And that strategy worked, time and again.”