New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit to Dissolve NRA
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Thursday against the National Rifle Association and a number of its current and former executive leadership, claiming the non-profit organization is “fraught with fraud and abuse.”
In the filing, the Attorney General alleges that improper management has cost the powerful gun lobby organization some $63 million in three years and that leadership had been “violating numerous state and federal laws” by using the organization’s funds for their own personal gain. The NRA’s Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre and three others — former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former chief of staff and Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer — were named in the suit. According to James, these executives used NRA funds for “personal use, including trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel.”
LaPierre, the suit claims, hired the other executives “despite their lack of skills or experience for their respective roles and responsibilities” because he believed they would help him consolidate his power and “facilitate his misuse of charitable assets.”
“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 said 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.”
The suit outlined other examples of corruption uncovered during James’ investigation into the NRA. The filing said LaPierre has secured a $17-million post-employment contract for himself that was never approved by the NRA board and says LaPierre funneled personal income through a PR firm to skirt paying taxes on it. LaPierre also allegedly used upwards of $500,000 in NRA money to fund private charter flights to the Bahamas for him and his family, where they were “gifted the use of a 107-foot yacht” by an NRA vendor. And, according to the suit, the NRA used “improper expense documentation, improper wage reporting, [and] improper income tax withholding.”
The NRA’s board, in a statement last year, said they stand behind Pierre and have “full confidence in the NRA’s accounting practices and commitment to good governance.”
President Donald Trump called the action by the New York AG “a terrible thing” and urged the NRA to “move to Texas and lead… a beautiful life,” as the group is currently registered in New York state, meaning they are within James’ jurisdiction.
And gun rights advocate Rob Pincus of Save the Second expressed concern at the suit as well. “None of us who have been pushing for NRA reform are celebrating today’s announcement,” he said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “It is tragic that the NY AG’s office is having to step in to clean up the NRA.”
“This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend,” NRA President Carolyn Meadows said in a statement. “You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda. This has been a power grab by a political opportunist – a desperate move that is part of a rank political vendetta. Our members won’t be intimidated or bullied in their defense of political and constitutional freedom.”
Meadows added, “As evidenced by the lawsuit filed by the NRA today against the NYAG, we not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail.”
But James argues in the filing that the organization has “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight” that led to “the waste and loss of millions in assets.”
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