New York Sues NRA, Moves to Dissolve Organization

Lawsuits filed in New York and Washington, D.C., allege years of financial impropriety within the National Rifle Association and its D.C.-based foundation, and seek to dissolve the gun-rights organization established in 1871.

New York Sues NRA, Moves to Dissolve Organization

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association. (Photo: NRA)

Lawsuits filed in New York and Washington, D.C., allege years of financial impropriety within the National Rifle Association and its D.C.-based foundation, and seek to dissolve the gun-rights organization established in 1871.

The Washington Post reported that New York Attorney General Letitia James says years of fraud at the highest levels of leadership in the National Rifle Association totaled at least $64 million. Her lawsuit was filed Aug. 6 after an investigation that began in February 2019.

The NRA responded, according to the Post, by saying it will file its own lawsuit against James, charging violations of the organization's First Amendment rights. It did so late Thursday in federal court in New York, and said James in 2018 “made the political prosecution of the NRA a central campaign theme” as she ran for Attorney General.

The New York lawsuit claims top NRA executives — including long-embattled CEO Wayne LaPierre — defrauded the non-profit organization of at least $64 million in three years and calls for the organization's dissolution. James is seeking to have LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former treasurer Woody Phillips and former chief of staff Joshua Powell repay the NRA and its members.

The NRA is headquarted in Fairfax, Virginia, but its articles of incorporation are registered in New York. The organization was founded in November 1871 after being granted a charter by the state.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The investigation, according to the statement, discovered a “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent.”

In a separate lawsuit, Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl A. Racine is taking aim at the NRA Foundation. He charges that the foundation repeatedly loaned the NRA money to address its rising deficits.

James, in New York, is seeking to dissolve the NRA.

“The corruption was so broad and because they have basically destroyed all the assets of the NRA,” she said. “Enough was enough … No one is above the law, not even the NRA.”

From the Post:

In one new revelation, the attorney general said her investigation uncovered that LaPierre recently arranged a post-employment contract for himself with the NRA worth $17 million. He never sought board approval for the deal, the suit claims.

The lawsuit also claims LaPierre failed to report large sums of personal income to the IRS. James’s office said it found that the NRA chief funneled personal expenses through an outside public relations firm, allowing him to avoid reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal income.

LaPierre and the NRA for years have been battling its former Oklahoma-based public relations and marketing agency, Ackerman McQueen. The two have filed lawsuits and numerous legal responses amid the back-and-forth about money, contracts and more.

The NRA, in its counter-suit filed Thursday, said James, with the urging and support of the "New York Democratic Party political machine," had as Attorney General "regrettably succumbed to ‘individual passions, and individual malevolence.’”

“James boasted that she would strike foul blows against the NRA and pound the NRA into submission. She vowed that she would use the NYAG’s investigative and enforcement powers for the precise purpose of stanching political speech (‘deadly propaganda),” the lawsuit states. “She has begun to deliver on her campaign promises to retaliate against the NRA for constitutionally protected speech on issues that James opposes.”

Update: Friday, Aug. 7

The National Shooting Sports Foundation issued a statement about the lawsuits:

NSSF, the trade association for the firearm industry, is troubled by the politically-driven decision of New York Attorney General Letitia James to seek to dissolve the National Rifle Association, America’s oldest civil rights organization. The lawsuit filed today by Attorney General James seeks to punish the over five million members of the National Rifle Association based on mere allegations of possible wrongdoing by a few individuals.

NSSF is deeply concerned about the apparent political agenda to silence the strongest voice in support of the Second Amendment ahead of the election in November.

This lawsuit, and one filed today by the District of Columbia Attorney General, should concern all Americans who cherish both the First and Second Amendments to our Constitution regardless of their views on what laws and regulations are appropriate to address the criminal misuse of firearms.


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