New York Sues to Dissolve the NRA, Alleging Widespread Fraud
2020-08-07 03:39

What to Know

  • New York filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association
  • The suit alleges NRA executives, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, misused charitable funds for personal expenses
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating the NRA's finances since early 2019

New York filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the leaders of the National Rifle Association of rampant fraud for their personal benefit, and seeking to have the powerful pro-gun lobbying group dissolved.

The state alleges that NRA leadership, including long-time CEO Wayne LaPierre, diverted millions of dollars in charitable donations for personal use. Over a three-year period, the state claims their behavior cost the group $64 million.

"Mr. LaPierre exploited the organization for his and his family's personal benefit and a close circle of NRA staff, board members and vendors," New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a news conference announcing the suit.

James said LaPierre and others used the NRA as their "personal piggy bank" and said her office had to act now because they had "destroyed all the assets of the organization."

The organization blasted the lawsuit as little more than a political stunt and said it would fight back aggressively.

“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.

President Trump also addressed the lawsuit outside the White House, suggesting that the group simply relocate. (The NRA is registered as a not-for-profit organization under New York law, and has been for nearly 150 years, giving James's office jurisdiction to look into its operations.)

“I think the NRA should move to Texas and lead a very good and beautiful life. I've told them that for a long time. I think they should move to Texas," Trump said.

James's office has had a long-running investigation into the NRA. The AG issued subpoenas to the group 16 months ago, following a campaign promise to probe its finances.

A year ago, the attorney general's office deposed former NRA president Oliver North as part of its investigation -- a deposition the NRA sued to listen in on, unsuccessfully.

More recently, the NRA was forced to cut staff and salaries and cancel major events due to the coronavirus pandemic, limiting what otherwise would have been a major presence in the 2020 election.

James declined to answer a question about whether NRA funds were inappropriately used in any way for a political campaign, but did say her office's investigation was ongoing.

In addition to dissolving the NRA, the suit seeks to force LaPierre and three other executives to pay restitution, and to bar them from ever serving on the board of a New York-registered charity again.

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