The National Rifle Association (NRA) sued the New York attorney general’s office on Thursday, accusing the state AG of defamation and violating the organization’s First Amendment rights.
The NRA’s 19-page civil lawsuit, filed in the federal court of New York, was in response to a lawsuit announced by state Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday morning seeking to “dissolve” the gun rights group over alleged financial “fraud and abuse.” The NRA countersuit alleges that James “made the political prosecution of the NRA a central campaign theme” during her 2018 run, and has continued to denounce the group as a “criminal enterprise” and “a terrorist organization” since, according to Fox News.
“Despite hopes that playing by the rules would procure a just outcome, the NRA has not been treated fairly by James’s office,” the NRA lawsuit says. “The New York Democratic Party political machine seeks to harass, defund, and dismantle the NRA because of what it believes and what it says.”
“James boasted that she would strike foul blows against the NRA and pound the NRA into submission. She vowed that she would use the NYAG’s investigative and enforcement powers for the precise purpose of stanching political speech (‘deadly propaganda’),” the lawsuit continues. “She has begun to deliver on her campaign promises to retaliate against the NRA for constitutionally protected speech on issues that James opposes. As NYAG, James has regrettably succumbed to ‘individual passions, and individual malevolence.’”
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who is named in James’ lawsuit, responded in a separate statement put out on the NRA’s Twitter account.
“The NYAG’s actions are an affront to democracy and freedom. This is an unconstitutional, premeditated attack aiming to dismantle and destroy the NRA – the fiercest defender of America’s freedom at the ballot box for decades,” LaPierre said. “The NRA is well governed, financially solvent, and committed to good governance. We’re ready for the fight. Bring it on.”
(2/2) The NRA is well governed, financially solvent, and committed to good governance. We’re ready for the fight. Bring it on.”
— NRA (@NRA) August 6, 2020
James’ lawsuit against the NRA claims that LaPierre and three other executives illegally used funds from the organization to pay for lavish travel and activities unconnected with the organization’s mission to advocate for the Second Amendment and gun rights.
“We are seeking to dissolve the NRA for years of self-dealing and illegal conduct that violate New York’s charities laws and undermine its own mission. The NRA diverted millions of dollars away from its charitable mission for personal use by senior leadership,” James wrote. “Our lawsuit charges the NRA as a whole and four senior leaders, including Wayne LaPierre, with failing to manage the NRA’s funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws. These actions contributed to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years for the NRA.”
The NRA issued a statement denying the allegations made in James’ lawsuit.
“The NRA has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance,” the NRA said. “The association’s financials are audited and its tax filings are verified by one of the most reputable firms in the world. Internally, the association has an appropriate conflict of interest policy, which provides that all potential conflicts are reviewed and scrutinized by the audit committee.”