A statement issued through Mr. Powell’s lawyer called the matter “a nonissue.”
“Josh’s business expenses were approved by the N.R.A. and reimbursed in the ordinary course for more than three years,” the statement said. “Expenses only became a controversy once he began to point out some of the problems in the organization. Josh hoped to just put it to rest — and so he wrote a check for more than $40,000.”
During his more than three-year tenure, Mr. Powell served at various periods as Mr. LaPierre’s top deputy, and chief of staff, and likens himself to Ned Stark, a well-meaning and ultimately ill-fated counselor to a king in the television show “Game of Thrones.”
A hunter since childhood and former Chicago options and derivatives trader, Mr. Powell says that the N.R.A. has fundamentally lost its way, abandoning “its roots as an organization focused on gun safety and education.” That has led it to limit its own long-term membership growth, he argues, by turning its back on the majority of gun owners who support background checks.
After the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., the N.R.A. rebuffed new gun control measures and instead promoted a “School Shield” program in which it would help review and recommend school safety countermeasures like arming security guards. Mr. Powell writes that he worked to boost the program after discovering it was little more than empty rhetoric — in the four years after Sandy Hook, the N.R.A. assessed the safety of only three schools.
“Wayne was out there selling the program to our members, raising money off it, claiming we were protecting kids’ schools,” he writes. “It was another example of the wizard behind the curtain — lots of inflamed rhetoric and fireworks and noise, but very little effective action on countering gun violence.”
Joel Friedman, an N.R.A. board member, said School Shield “began very slowly because it needed to be proven,” and called Mr. Powell’s book “a 180-degree flop.”
Despite the N.R.A.’s problems, its influence remains. Mr. Powell describes the organization’s officials repeatedly persuading Mr. Trump and his administration to stand down from efforts to impose gun control measures.