The National Rifle Association won a round in its ongoing dispute with former president Oliver North when a judge ruled Thursday the gun group doesn’t have to foot the bill for his legal fees.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen said after issuing the ruling, “In a nutshell with the facts here, the NRA could agree to pay Colonel North’s legal fees … but it is not required to.”
North asked for the coverage after he was served subpoenas by the New York State Attorney General’s Office as they investigate whether the gun group violated nonprofit laws. North was also served with subpoenas in ongoing lawsuits and a probe by the Senate Committee of Finance.
North split with the NRA in April after he claimed he discovered financial wrongdoing within the organization, while CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre accused North of trying to blackmail him into stepping down in a failed coup attempt.
North’s lawyer, Alexander Zolan, argued that the NRA “is trying to retaliate against Col. North for fulfilling his fiduciary duty,” by treating him differently than other directors by refusing to indemnify him.
NRA lawyer Svetlana Eisenberg said North isn’t entitled to legal coverage because the bylaws don’t require it to and “because his acts were committed in bad faith.”
But Cohen countered, “the lurid facts underlying the dispute … [are] not relevant to what is in front of me which is to construe the bylaws.”
The judge later added, “Col. North’s reading would require something close to a blank check and that’s just not what the bylaw says.”