New York attorney general Letitia James has filed a lawsuit that seeks to dissolve the National Rifle Association, the biggest and most influential gun-rights lobby in the country, and will set up a legal confrontation that will likely take years to play out in the courts. This comes as the embattled organization (often accused of overt and covert racism), continues to lay off staffers.
In a tweet thread announcing and outlining the lawsuit, James writes “I filed a lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association for years of self-dealing and illegal conduct,” noting that the NRA has become “fraught with fraud and abuse” at the hands of the 148-year-old organization’s senior leadership.
According to the New York Times, AG James’ suit also targets four current and former NRA leaders, including the organization’s most publically visible member, chief executive Wayne LaPierre, as well as general counsel John Grazer, LaPierre’s former top lieutenant Josh Powell, and the NRA’s former CFO Woody Phillips. The suit alleges that the four executives violated “numerous state and federal laws” and took improper actions that cost the NRA $64 million over three years while they enriched themselves as well as their families and close friends.
“The four defendants failed to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the NRA and used millions upon millions from NRA reserves for personal use, including: trips for them and their families to the Bahamas & safaris in Africa, private jets. expensive meals. and other private travel,” Attorney General James outlined in a tweet.
The New York Times reports that since AG James has regulatory authority over the NRA as a nonprofit organization operating in the state of New York, she is seeking to bar all four men from ever serving on nonprofit boards in the state of New York again. The lawsuit alleges that LaPierre spent the organization’s money on private plane trips, visiting the Bahamas by private air charter eight times in just three years, managed to secure a $17 million post-employment contract without board approval, and spent over $3.6 million on travel expenses over just two years — while also failing to accurately report annual filings to the state and IRS.
The lawsuit was officially filed in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan as a civil action on August 6th, 2020.