New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that the state is suing the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several of its high-profile leaders, and looking to “dissolve” the organization over alleged financial irregularities.
The NY AG announced early Thursday that her office was planning a major announcement that would have a national impact. Although many anticipated an investigation or charges against President Donald Trump or members of his family, the NY AG said she was suing to “dissolve” the NRA over “fraud and abuse,” citing recent reports and an internal investigation she claims show fiscal mismanagement.
“I filed a lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association for years of self-dealing and illegal conduct. The @NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse. No organization is above the law,” James wrote on Twitter.
The lawsuit, James claims, is a consumer interest move designed to protect NRA members and donors.
“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,” she 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.”
James claims that LaPierre and others used donations meant to go toward preserving the Second Amendment on private travel and meals, and alleges that LaPierre and at least three others breached their fiduciary duty to organization members, diverting “tens of millions of dollars” from the organization’s mission.
John Frazier, Woody Phillips, and Joshua Powell, three other NRA executives, are mentioned by name in the suit, which accuses the four of using “millions upon millions from NRA reserves for personal use, including trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel.”
In a separate press release, the New York Attorney General’s office accused the NRA of “illegal conduct,” including “awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no- show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.”
James is taking an extreme approach to suggested remedies, demanding that the NRA, which is chartered in New York, be dissolved.
“The NRA has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance,” the NRA said in a statement responding to the lawsuit, which has yet to be filed. “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.”
The NY AG has been investigating the NRA for more than a year, according to ABC News – an investigation they claim gives rise to Thursday’s lawsuit. But the NRA itself has been experiencing internal turmoil for some time. Back in April, the organization sued longtime ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, exposing ongoing internal battles over leadership and direction. In May, a trove of leaked documents surfaced online, purportedly showing a conflict between LaPierre, then-NRA President retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, and several other board members over allegations of “secretive” dealings, per ABC.
Supporters of the NRA questioned the NY AG’s timing, given that the organization typically pours millions into Republican campaigns, and President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign would likely see large donations from the gun rights organization.
The lawsuit is expected to be filed Thursday.