New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to disband the National Rifle Association (NRA), claiming its top officials diverted millions of dollars from the influential gun group for their personal use and enriched their families and close associates by awarding lucrative contracts.
The lawsuit from James, filed in New York state court, alleges the NRA and four of its top executives mismanaged funds and violated state and federal laws, resulting in the loss of more than $64 million for the organization in a span of three years. The senior leaders, James claims, used millions from the NRA's coffers on trips to the Bahamas, private jets, luxury hotels and fine dining.
"It's clear that the NRA has been failing to carry out its stated mission for many, many years and instead has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality," James said during a news conference. "In this state, we have a set of laws that every individual and entity must be held accountable to regardless of who you are, regardless of your power, size, influence, wealth or station in life, one set of laws. And today, we send a strong and loud message that no one is above the law, not even the NRA."
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine also filed a lawsuit against the NRA and the NRA Foundation, which is incorporated in D.C., in the superior court alleging misuse of charitable funds.
NRA President Carolyn Meadows vowed in a statement that the organization will prevail in the dispute.
"This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend," she said. "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."
James' lawsuit seeking to shutter the NRA, which is chartered in New York, is the latest in a series of woes that has left the nation's largest and most powerful gun group reeling. Its existing financial issues have been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, which forced the group in May to lay off dozens of employees, cancel its national convention — which in the past has been attended by President Trump — and call off fundraising and membership events. The NRA also has come under scrutiny from state investigators and regulators, and NRA leaders, namely Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, have faced backlash for their hefty compensation and spending habits.