During a press conference on Thursday, Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she had filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA). James is accusing NRA leadership of widespread fraud, saying their leaders spent “years of illegal self-dealings” that funded a “lavish lifestyle.”
According to James, the NRA diverted “millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, 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.”
“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law,” she said.
Also named in the complaint are Wilson “Woody” Phillips, a former treasurer and chief financial officer; Joshua Powell, a former chief of staff and the executive director of general operations; and John Frazer, the corporate secretary and general counsel. They are accused of failing to manage the NRA’s funds and abide by state and federal laws, contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in three years, James said.
The left-wing attorney general accused NRA executives of using the organization as a “personal piggy bank.”
“Given the breadth and depth of the corruption, the illegality and the brazen attempts to evade the law,” James said. Her real motives became clear when she announced that the NRA must be disbanded, a clear assault on the Second Amendment.
Check out what else NBC News reported:
James confirmed in April 2019 that an investigation of the NRA was underway, part of a campaign promise to dig into the group’s not-for-profit status if elected. James had issued subpoenas as part of the investigation, reportedly looking into its campaign finances, payments made to board members and tax compliance.
That same month, Oliver North, the retired U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel who became NRA president in 2018, stepped down from the role after alleging other leadership had engaged in financial improprieties.
His departure revealed a fractured organization and internal power struggle in which North and his supporters had reportedly tried to oust LaPierre, the NRA CEO and Executive Vice President who has led the organization of more than 5 million members since 1991.
LaPierre later accused North of trying to extort him. But the longtime public face of the NRA has also come under scrutiny from major donors worried about the group’s revenue and mounting legal troubles.
After learning of James’ probe last year, President Donald Trump defended the NRA, tweeting that the group was “under siege” by her and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats, “who are illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy this very important organization, & others.”
William A. Brewer III, an attorney representing the NRA, said in a statement in December that the “financial records of the NRA and affiliates were audited and reported in tax filings, in accordance with state and federal regulations — a fact that underscores the Association’s commitment to good governance.”
He added that James’ investigation had a “partisan purpose — not an actual concern that the NRA is not effectively using its assets to pursue its members interests.”
While the NRA is headquartered in Fairfax County, Virginia, the New York attorney general has investigatory authority over its status as a not-for-profit organization as it is chartered in New York. The group remains the most powerful gun lobby in the United States, although amid the coronavirus pandemic, it has laid off or furloughed dozens of employees and cut salaries.
In July, it endorsed Trump’s re-election for the White House, saying he had “done more than any president to protect the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
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