Washington — A silentoutside the National Rifle Association's Virginia headquarters capped a summer of turmoil within. First, leaked documents showed the group's longtime leader Wayne LaPierre may have misused member dues, spending nearly $300,000 on designer clothes over 10 years and charging the NRA for luxury travel to the Bahamas, Budapest and Italy.
Then, cost and controversy led the group to. NRA president Oliver North left. So did top lobbyist Chris Cox, as LaPierre accused them of extortion.
Just last week, three board members resigned, claiming they were "stripped of committee assignments" after they "sought information" about the "allegations of impropriety."
Now the group's tax-exempt status is being investigated by both the New York and D.C. attorney general.
"When I see the scale of the personal indulgences, the cronyism, it's really disappointing," said Rob Pincus, a longtime NRA member and firearms instructor in Florida.
While the NRA opposes universal background checks, congressional backers now see an opening.
"Their day has come. Their day is over. We can get this done," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The NRA still has deep pockets. It took in $170 million in member dues alone last year and it has the president's ear after spending $30 million to help him get elected in 2016.