Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPride Month concludes without Equality Act vote in Senate Republicans should hit the reset button on Biden infrastructure deal The world is no longer fit for Sept. 11 war authorizations MORE (D-N.Y.) on Sunday called for the National Rifle Association (NRA) to be investigated for bankruptcy fraud by the Justice Department (DOJ), claiming that the organization continued to spend money on advertising despite filing for bankruptcy.
A judge in May dismissed the NRA’s bankruptcy case, ruling that the advocacy group cannot use the bankruptcy code to move from New York, where it is the subject of a lawsuit, to Texas, a more gun-friendly state.
The court determined that the bankruptcy case was not “filed in good faith” because “it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid a state regulatory scheme.”
The group filed for bankruptcy in January and sought to reincorporate in Texas by “utilizing the protection of the bankruptcy court.”
The legal action followed an August lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), which called for dissolving the organization.
Schumer on Sunday said the NRA continued spending large sums of money on advertising efforts criticizing proposed gun proposals and the nomination of gun control lobbyist David Chipman to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, contending that those pursuits bolster the allegation that the bankruptcy claim was motivated by legal, not financial, concerns.
“They recently told the judicial branch of government that they are bankrupt after the lawsuit by Tish James, and at the same time they’re saying they’re bankrupt, they’re spending millions of dollars on ads to stop universal background checks,” Schumer told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
“That demands an investigation by the Justice Department,” he added.
He specifically cited a $2 million advertising push announced by the NRA in April, when the bankruptcy case was still pending, which targeted gun control proposals, the AP reported.
The organization said it was showcasing ads on TV and digital platforms, placing mailers in the field and hosting town hall meetings in at least 12 states.
“How can you say you’re bankrupt at the same time you have millions of dollars to spend on ads throughout the country trying to prevent universal background checks, fundraising and other things that will stop the killings on the streets?” Schumer asked, according to the AP.
“The bottom line is the NRA shot itself in the foot when they declared bankruptcy and still have millions of dollars,” he added.
The NRA reacted to Schumer’s comments in a statement to The Hill, calling his plea for a DOJ investigation a “weak, tyrannical threat.”
“The NRA has said repeatedly in public forums that we are financially stronger than ever. We have also said that we will continue to wage, and win, the public debate over ‘gun control.’ It is regrettable that Sen. Schumer chose to ignore those salient facts in his press conference Sunday,” Andrew Arulanandam, managing director of NRA Public Affairs, said in a statement.
“And unfortunately for Sen. Schumer and his gun control money masters, our winning arguments are protected by the First Amendment. That’s why Sen. Schumer’s weak, tyrannical threat of DOJ retaliation fails,” he added.
William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA, accused Schumer of “promoting a false narrative,” contending that the group filed for bankruptcy and sought to reorganize in Texas “to streamline its financial and legal affairs”
“The truth is, the proceedings in question confirmed what the Association disclosed from the outset – the NRA is financially solvent, and the filing in Texas was part of its long-term plans to effectively serve its members. Although the bankruptcy court did not believe the filing was for a proper bankruptcy purpose, it specifically did not find the NRA acted in bad faith. The facts speak for themselves, despite the political gamesmanship of the NRA’s adversaries,” Brewer added.
The Department of Justice declined to comment to The Hill.