The embattled National Rifle Association is seeking an exit from its financial and legal woes by declaring bankruptcy, with a plan to reorganize in the state of Texas.
In a statement to reporters on Friday, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said the NRA had reached a “transformational moment” and that a move to Texas opens “a pathway to opportunity, growth and progress.” He added that “an important part of this plan is ‘dumping New York,’ ” where the NRA has been incorporated for more than 150 years, but has come under immense legal pressure, including a move to dissolve the organization over allegations of unlawful self-enrichment by senior executives. (LaPierre recently repaid the NRA more than $300,000 in illicit benefits, and the organization is seeking the return of more than $1 million from its former chief lobbyist.)
New York Attorney General Letitia James responded to the gun lobby’s news with a burn: “The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” she said. James insisted that the NRA’s hopes of evading her legal reach are misguided: “While we review this filing, we will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.” In a Friday evening virtual town hall with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, James expanded on her thinking: “We filed suit against the NRA because, basically, they were diverting funds from this charitable organization for their own personal use. And so the corruption and greed has finally, unfortunately, resulted in this organization filing bankruptcy,” she said. “But we will continue our efforts,” James vowed, “because this organization has gone unchecked for years, and it’s critically important that we continue to hold them accountable, even in bankruptcy court.”
LaPierre referred to Texas as a “state that values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and will join us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom.” The NRA’s top lawyer, William A. Brewer III said the plan allows the NRA “protection from New York officials who it believes have illegally weaponized their powers against the NRA and its members.”
NRA is filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Texas. Its petition filed January 15th lists millions in unsecured obligations to creditors, including nearly $1.3 million alone to the NRA’s longtime former PR firm Ackerman McQueen. In 2019 he NRA went through a toxic, public breakup with Ackerman McQueen, which had plowed millions into a failed media project, NRATV. The fight eventually led to both sides suing one another, amid allegations that Ackerman McQueen client and then-NRA president Oliver North had attempted to oust LaPierre in an “executive coup.”
Straining credibility, the NRA sought to put a positive spin on its current finances, insisting, “the move comes at a time when the NRA is in its strongest financial condition in years.” The NRA said “Chapter 11 proceedings are routinely utilized by businesses, nonprofits and organizations of all kinds to streamline legal and financial affairs.” The gun group added that it intends to render “payment in full of all valid creditors’ claims” and “to uphold commitments to employees, vendors, members, and other community stakeholders.”
In addition to reorganizing in Texas, the NRA is also weighing moving its physical headquarters from their current location in Northern Virginia. “The Association will analyze whether a move of its headquarters, now located in Fairfax, Virginia, is in the best interests of its members,” it writes. “In the meantime, the NRA’s general business operations will remain in Fairfax.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.