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NRA shuts down NRATV, and top lobbyist Chris Cox resigns

Leaked info details NRA chief's spending
  • Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, resigned Wednesday amid strained relations with the association.
  • NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre also said the gun owners' group is shutting down NRATV.
  • The NRA's advertising firm says it's owed millions in delinquent payments for its work on behalf of the group.

A high-ranking executive at the National Rifle Association resigned Wednesday, the same day the NRA announced the end of NRATV amid turbulent relations with its advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen. Chris Cox, the gun group's chief lobbyist and principal political strategist for the Institute for Legislative Action — the association's lobbying arm — stepped down from his position Wednesday. 

The move comes about a week after the NRA placed him on leave over accusations he tried, unsuccessfully, to extort Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre. The NRA didn't immediately respond to CBS MoneyWatch's request for comment.

LaPierre, in a statement on the NRA's website, blamed advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, from which it has split, for the end of NRATV as it's currently known. "Whether and when we return to 'live' programming is s a subject of ongoing analysis," LaPierre said in the statement.

"What necessitated the change now is our conclusion that our longtime advertising firm and website vendor failed to deliver upon many contractual obligations it made to our Association," LaPierre said.  He also cited members' concern that NRATV's messaging had become "too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment," as one reason for the decision.

Instead, the association will invest in its social media channels and website, where new and archived videos will live. Ackerman McQueen accused the gun rights group of "attempting to avoid the strict financial obligations it undertook when it outsourced its work" to the firm.

"Massive unbudgeted legal costs"

Ackerman claims the NRA owes it several millions of dollars worth of delinquent payments for work that has already been completed. "They are refusing to pay, in part to harm AMc, but also because the NRA probably is having trouble meeting its financial obligations in large measure due to massive unbudgeted legal costs," the company said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. In 2017 alone, the NRA paid Ackerman $40 million

"Ackerman McQueen is not surprised that the NRA is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner. ... For Ackerman McQueen, it is time to move on to a new chapter without the chaos that has enveloped the NRA," the statement said.

The NRA is plagued by financial struggles, amid a lagging membership and a succession of legislative defeats — prompting a rethinking of its investment in live TV. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.