New York State Attorney General Seeks Dissolution of the NRA

By Shani Saxon Aug 07, 2020

New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Thursday (August 6) in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan accusing executives at the National Rifle Association (NRA) of years of corruption, which has undermined the organization’s ability to function as a nonprofit, The New York Times reports. James argues that misdeeds and misspending call for "the dissolution of the nation’s most powerful gun rights lobby," according to The Times. 

Reports The Times:

The suit was swiftly followed by two others: The N.R.A. struck back with a federal lawsuit against the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, claiming her action was politically motivated and violated the organization’s First Amendment rights. And the attorney general of Washington, D.C., filed suit against the N.R.A. and its charitable foundation, alleging that the N.R.A. misused millions of dollars of the foundation’s funds.

James, who, as The Times notes, has special jurisdiction over the NRA because it was chartered as a nonprofit in New York 148 years ago, included "four current or former N.R.A. leaders" in her lawsuit, according to The Times. She is seeking "tens of millions of dollars in restitution." Included in the lawsuit are, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive, John Frazer, general counsel for the NRA; Josh Powell, a former top lieutenant of Mr. LaPierre; and Wilson (Woody) Phillips, a former chief financial officer.

According to The Times:

While allegations of mismanagement and lavish spending by Mr. LaPierre and others have emerged from the N.R.A.’s internecine warfare over the last year, the New York suit lays out a broad litany of new allegations of corruption and greed from executives who Ms. James said “looted” the N.R.A.

Mr. LaPierre is accused of raiding N.R.A. funds to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle, even though he was already paid millions in direct compensation by the organization.

…The lawsuit accuses the N.R.A. and the executives of “violating numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves, as well as their friends, families and allies, and taking improper actions that cost the organization $64 million over three years. Ms. James is also seeking to oust Mr. LaPierre and Mr. Frazer, and to bar all four men from serving on nonprofit boards in New York again.

LaPierre released a statement obtained by The Times, calling the lawsuit "unconstitutional." 

“This is an unconstitutional, premeditated attack aiming to dismantle and destroy the N.R.A. — the fiercest defender of America’s freedom at the ballot box for decades. We’re ready for the fight. Bring it on,” LaPierre said. 

James, whose lawsuit details a number of tax violations potentially committed by the NRA, said at a news conference that she was also referring this matter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), The Times reports. “It’s an ongoing investigation,” she said. “If we uncover any criminal activity, we will refer it to the Manhattan district attorney. At this point in time we’re moving forward, again, with civil enforcement.”