NRA turmoil creates rift among some big donors

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This Oct. 28, 2019, photo, shows David Dell'Aquila in his home Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Dell'Aquila is a donor to the NRA who is now suing the gun lobby, alleging misspent funds and donations. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Joe Olson was once such a passionate supporter of the National Rifle Association that he pledged to bequeath several million dollars from his estate to the gun organization upon his death.

But the steady drip of investigations and misspending allegations and a shakeup at the top ranks of the NRA compelled him to alter his will. The NRA will no longer get his money.

"The rot had gotten worse and I simply decided: No, I'm not giving those people my money," Olson said.

Olson reflects what has become a new challenge for the NRA as its legal and financial issues stack up: the loss of big donors.

The NRA attributes much of its success and power to rank-and-file members who contribute a few dollars here and there throughout the year, but it's the big-ticket donors who fuel the organization's finances. They also play a role in who serves on the board of directors and are active on the NRA social and fundraising scene, whether it's at galas or hunting trips.

And there are signs that some of them are growing uneasy over the NRA's troubles.

One of them went so far to as to file a lawsuit against the NRA claiming misuse of funds and started a website that seeks changes to the NRA — from the ouster of longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre, to halving the size of the 76-member board of directors.

The donor, David Dell'Aquila, also claims that he has gotten others like him to withhold millions of dollars.