Thu | Oct 29, 2020

NY attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2020 | 11:14 AM
This February 29, 2020 file photo, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, at the National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

New York’s attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to put the powerful gun advocacy organisation out of business over allegations that high-ranking executives diverted millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.

Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, filed in state court in Manhattan after an 18-month investigation, highlighted misspending and self-dealing allegations that have roiled the NRA and its longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre, in recent years — from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.

Simultaneously, the Washington, D.C., attorney general sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the organisation designed to provide programmes for firearm safety, marksmanship and hunting safety, accusing it of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by its top executives.

The troubles, which James said were long cloaked by loyal lieutenants and a pass-through payment arrangement with a vendor, started to come to light as the NRA’s deficit piled up and it struggled to find its footing after a spate of mass shootings eroded support for its pro-gun agenda.

The organisation went from a nearly $28 million surplus in 2015 to a $36 million deficit in 2018.

James, a Democrat, argued that the organisation’s prominence and cozy political relationships had lulled it into a sense of invincibility and enabled a culture where non-profit rules were routinely flouted and state and federal laws were violated.

Even the NRA’s own bylaws and employee handbook were ignored, she said.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funnelled millions into their own pockets,” James said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “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.”

A spokesman for the NRA’s legal team had no immediate comment.

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