- New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office has filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association in its entirety.
- James cited 18 "causes of action" that she said showed how the NRA violated state laws and abused its status as a nonprofit organization.
- The lawsuit James' office filed alleges that four top NRA officials, including its longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre, "instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA."
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New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office has filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association in its entirety.
James cited 18 "causes of action" that she said showed how the NRA violated multiple state laws and abused its status as a nonprofit organization. Thurdsay's lawsuit is the culmination of a more than year-long investigation by James' office into the NRA's activities related to campaign finance, tax compliance, and board compenstation.
In addition to being mired in infighting, the NRA has drawn scrutiny over its ties to Maria Butina, a Russian national who was convicted last year of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian state. The organization was also at the center of an FBI investigation in 2018 into whether a prominent Kremlin-linked gun-rights-activist used it to illegally funnel money to help sway the 2016 election in President Donald Trump's favor.
Thursday's lawsuit alleges that four top NRA officials, including its longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre, "instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA." It also says they improperly managed the NRA's money and broke several state and federal laws.
Prosecutors also alleged that LaPierre "exploited the organization for his financial benefit, and the benefit of a close circle of NRA staff, board members, and vendors." The lawsuit names three other officials — Wilson Phillips, John Frazier, and Joshua Powell — as co-defendants along with LaPierre and the NRA.
Phillips and Powell no longer work at the organization, but the lawsuit said they, along with Frazier, were "handpicked" by LaPierre to "facilitate his misuse of charitable assets."
James listed several allegations against LaPierre in a press release accompanying the lawsuit. The state attorney general accused LaPierre of flying his family members on private NRA-funded jets when he wasn't using them and obtaining a $17-million post-employment contract for himself without board approval. She also alleged that LaPierre used a private charter jet to take eight trips to the Bahamas which cost the NRA more than half a million dollars.
The 18 causes of action prosecutors brought against LaPierre, the NRA, and senior officials included false reporting on annual filings with the New York attorney general's office and the Internal Revenue Service; improper expense documentation; improper wage reporting; improper income tax reporting; payments in excess of reasonable compensation of disqualified persons; waste of NRA assets; and more.
James said Thursday that her office is also asking the court to ask Phillips and LaPierre to pay restitution, to remove LaPierre and Frazier from the NRA's leadership, and to ensure that none of the four co-defendants can serve on the board of a charity in New York state.
"The NRA's influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets," James said in the press release. "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."
William Brewer III, who serves as legal counsel to the NRA, said last year that the organization has "full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance."
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