New York Attorney General Sues To Dissolve NRA
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she has filed a civil lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) after an 18-month fraud investigation. The lawsuit accuses the group’s leadership of misusing charitable funds for their own personal gain.
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” said James in a statement. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”
In a tweet before her live televised announcement, James called the 149-year-old organization “fraught with fraud and abuse.”
The NRA, a long controversial, not-for-profit organization, is registered in New York State, under James’ jurisdiction but has represented the interests of gun enthusiasts and sportsmen for generations. It has also been the foundation of the powerful national gun lobby, which has been blamed by anti-gun violence advocates as the fuel behind the nationwide mass shooting epidemic.
But James’ focus is primarily NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and other members or former members of the board. They included former treasurer and CFO Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former chief of staff Joshua Powell, and corporate secretary and general counsel John Frazer — all named as defendants. She accuses them of “failing to follow numerous state and federal laws,” which she says caused the loss of $64 million in three years for the organization.
The state’s lawsuit alleges that the four men engaged in a culture of “self-dealing,” negligence and mismanagement that was “illegal,” “oppressive” and “fraudulent.” Their actions included skirting their own internal rules to allow themselves and their cohorts to benefit from reimbursables, side deals, wastes of charitable assets and other malfeasances.
The civil complaint outlines several instances in which LaPierre and the other defendants used the NRA for their own personal financial benefits.That includes lavish travel, illegal contracts, shady dealings with vendors, substantial salary increases, and failure to comply with financial oversight rules. On top of all this, attempts to execute a legally mandated audit by the Office of the Attorney General were made numerous times but the organization failed to comply.
The motion is a civil manner, but James said that as her office’s investigation continues, if any evidence of criminal activity is found, it will be referred over to the Manhattan District Attorney.
It is likely that James’ motion will be fought by the NRA, but it is a group that has been mired in financial chaos for years. Legal costs from defending itself against several other state attorneys general investigations, a lawsuit from its former publicity firm and the millions it spent to support the election of President Donald Trump have all weighed heavily against the organization.
The Washington D.C. attorney general also filed a lawsuit against the NRA and against the NRA Foundation according to the Associated Press. This is the arm of the organization set up to create programs supporting firearm safety, but it is accused of diverting funds from there to the NRA itself to pay for its leadership’s extravagant spending.
“We send a strong and powerful message that no one is above the law, not even the NRA,” James said in her announcement.