NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York State Attorney General Letitia James is trying to put the National Rifle Association out of business.
James filed a lawsuit Thursday to dissolve the gun advocacy organization after an 18-month investigation found evidence the non-profit is fraught with fraud and abuse, the attorney general said.
The lawsuit claims high-ranking executives diverted millions of dollars in charitable funds for personal benefit.
"The NRA has failed to carry out its stated mission for many years, and instead, operated as a breeding ground for greed and abuse," James said, accusing the NRA of years of self-dealing and illegal conduct in violation of New York's charities law. "The organization went unchecked for decades while top executive funneled millions into their own pockets."
She accused its top leaders of using the funds for lavish personal trips to the Bahamas, expensive meals, private jet travel, "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' complaint names the NRA as a whole as well as four current and former executives, including Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre. The lawsuit accuses them of "failing to manage the NRA’s funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years for the NRA."
"In New York, we have a set of laws that every individual and entity must be held accountable to, regardless of its size, influence, power, or wealth. No one is above the law, not even the NRA, one of the most powerful organizations in this country," James said.
In addition to shuttering the NRA’s doors, James is looking to recoup millions in lost assets and stop the four individual defendants from serving on the board of any not-for-profit charitable organization in the state of New York again.
The NRA president calls the attorney general's action "a baseless, premeditated attack" on the organization and Second Amdendment rights.
“You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda. This has been a power grab by a political opportunist – a desperate move that is part of a rank political vendetta. Our members won’t be intimidated or bullied in their defense of political and constitutional freedom," NRA President Carolyn Meadows said, adding, “As evidenced by the lawsuit filed by the NRA today against the NYAG, we not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail.”
Meadows said the group was counter-suing the New York attorney general’s office.
President Donald Trump slammed the lawsuit as a "terrible thing."
The president told reporters the NRA should "move to Texas and lead...a beautiful life" there.
Since 1871, the NRA has been registere in New York as a not-for-profit.