Sixteen GOP attorneys general are backing a National Rifle Association (NRA) lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James who accused the group’s leadership of using the organization as their ‘personal piggy bank’ for years in a complaint filed earlier this year.
James went after the NRA in August and sought to have the organization dissolved over alleged self-dealing by top leaders of the group.
But the NRA has counter-sued James, alleging that her bombshell lawsuit ‘was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend’.
The lawsuit has the backing of the following attorneys general: Acting AG of Alaska Clyde Sniffen Jr, Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge, Georgia AG Chris Carr, Idaho AG Lawrence Wasden, Kansas AG Derek Schmidt, Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron, Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, Mississippi AG Lynn Fitch, Missouri AG Eric Schmitt, Ohio Dave Yost, Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter, South Carolina AG Alan Wilson, South Dakota Jason Ravnsborg, Texas AG Ken Paxton, Utah AG Sean Reyes and West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey.
Sixteen GOP attorneys general are backing a National Rifle Association (NRA) lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James (pictured) who accused the group’s leadership of using the organization as their ‘personal piggy bank’ for years in a complaint filed in August
James has insisted that the organization be dissolved and not restructured because, she claims, the alleged fraud is so ‘broad’. Her lawsuit against the NRA alleges that Wayne LaPierre (pictured in February) hired his friends and used NRA funds to pay for a luxury lifestyle
According to the Wall Street Journal, the attorneys general wrote in the filing: ‘The New York AG cannot be allowed to wield the power of her office to discriminate against the NRA simply because she doesn’t like its members’ political views, advocacy, and defense of a fundamental constitutional right.’
The suit says the NRA has not been treated fairly since James made the ‘political prosecution of the NRA a central campaign theme’ when she was running for the attorney general seat in 2018.
James has previously called the group a ‘terrorist organization’ and a ‘criminal enterprise,’ which were both cited in the lawsuit.
‘These are not the words of a state official scrupulously enforcing nonprofit governance law,’ the 16 attorneys general said in a brief on Tuesday.
‘Rather, those words underscore what the New York AG’s dissolution case really is: a politically motivated assault on free speech and an effort to destroy both a fundamental constitutional right and a political opponent dedicated to defending that right,’ the brief reads.
The NRA’s counter suit alleges that James is in bed with New York Gov Andrew Cuomo and that the pair have both been trying to destroy the organization for years because it furthers their political agendas.
In response to the brief, James told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday: ‘The NRA has been a breeding ground of fraud, abuse, and brazen illegality.
‘Simply put, the rot runs deep, which is why our lawsuit to dissolve the organization will continue undeterred,’ she added.
In the lawsuit James filed, she claimed that Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wilson ‘Woody’ Phillips, former Chief of Staff and the Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer used NRA funds – built by donations from members – to pay for ‘trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, and expensive meals’.
James claims the organization diverted millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization.
The suit says the NRA has not been treated fairly since James made the ‘political prosecution of the NRA (conference pictured in 2018) a central campaign theme’ when she was running for the attorney general seat in 2018
President Donald Trump called James’ lawsuit ‘terrible’ and told the NRA to ‘move to Texas’. It is currently based in Virginia
In response to James’ lawsuit, the NRA immediately said Democrats have ‘blamed the NRA for President Trump’s 2016 election victory, and were brainstorming ways that New York State could weaken the NRA as a political force in 2020’.
The NRA says it has carried out lengthy investigations over the last few years to ensure its operations were all above board.
In 2016, the organization gave more than $30million to Trump’s campaign.
James said that an ongoing thread in her investigation was whether or not any mismanaged funds were used to donate to political campaigns.
She is aggressively seeking restitution from the NRA. She alleges that the fraud cost the organization $64million in losses.
Trump called James’ lawsuit ‘terrible’ and told the NRA to ‘move to Texas’. It is currently based in Virginia.
James has insisted that the organization be dissolved and not restructured because, she claims, the alleged fraud is so ‘broad’.
Her lawsuit against the NRA alleges that Wayne LaPierre hired his friends in the 1990s and then used NRA funds – which had been donated by supporters – to pay for a luxury lifestyle.
‘Yacht trips in the Bahamas, private jets, gifts, black car services and lucrative consulting contracts for ex-employees and board members’ are among the things she claims he spent the money on.
LaPierre approved private jet flights on the company dollar for his family members, including his niece’s husband, the lawsuit claims.
Among them was an alleged private flight for his niece and her husband from Dallas, Texas, to North Platte, Nebraska that cost $11,435.
Later, he allegedly authorized a flight for his niece and her daughter from Dallas to Orlando for $26,995.
It’s also alleged that in October 2016 he approved a flight for his wife to go alone from Wisconsin to Nebraska for $8,800 and in January 2017, he authorized a flight for his niece’s husband from Nebraska to Las Vegas for a Safari Club convention.
His reasons for them included that it was difficult to find commercial flights to parts of Nebraska, and that his niece sometimes had a young child with her, the lawsuit claims.
It also alleges that he himself spent company donations on yachting trips to the Bahamas.
‘Since June 2015, LaPierre and his family took private flights to and from the Bahamas on at least eight occasions. On most of those trips, LaPierre stopped in Nebraska on each leg of the trip to pick up and drop off his niece and her family,’ the lawsuit alleges.
‘The NRA paid over half a million dollars for these flights,’ the lawsuit says.
LaPierre claimed he was going to the Bahamas for a ‘celebrity retreat’ that was run by ‘an individual’ who is the major stakeholder in Associated Television Inc, Membership Marketing Partners, Allegiance Creative Group, Concord Social and Public Relations.
The lawsuit claims the NRA gave $100million to those companies, and LaPierre worked with them to produce projects like Crime Strike, a TV show he hosted.