New York Attorney General Letitia James’ announcement that she’s suing to dissolve the NRA is an “affront to democracy,” according to NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre.
(1/2) Statement from NRA CEO & EVP Wayne LaPierre:
“The NYAG’s actions are an affront to democracy and freedom. This is an unconstitutional, premeditated attack aiming to dismantle and destroy the NRA – the fiercest defender of America’s freedom at the ballot box for decades.
— NRA (@NRA) August 6, 2020
In a follow up to his first tweet, LaPierre went on to say that “the NRA is well governed, financially solvent, and committed to good governance. We’re ready for the fight. Bring it on.” Meanwhile, in an email sent to NRA-ILA activist leaders obtained by Bearing Arms, NRA President Carolyn Meadows called the lawsuit a “baseless attack” not only on the gun group, but the “Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend.”
“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.”
As evidenced by the lawsuit filed by the NRA today against the NYAG, we not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail.”
The argument that James’ new lawsuit politically motivated is not without merit, particularly given the simultaneous announcement by Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine that he too is pursuing a civil case of his own, this one against the NRA Foundation.
At the heart of both cases are serious allegations of misspending on the part of NRA leadership, starting with Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. James also named general counsel John Frazer, former General Operations head Josh Powell, and former treasurer Woody Phillips in her Thursday press conference, alleging that the four oversaw the misuse of more than $64-million in organization funds in 2018 and 2019. In addition to seeking financial restitution by the four executives, and barring them from serving in the employ of any non-profit chartered in the state of New York, James declared that she wants to dissolve the National Rifle Association entirely.
If there was actual wrongdoing, there should be actual consequences, but as Allahpundit notes over at Hot Air, it doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence that James is filing suit against the organization and its leadership right as we head into the thick of campaign season, and it’s even more telling that she’s trying to dissolve the NRA rather than “clean house”.
I think that’s the political angle here. Lefties are pointing out on Twitter that dissolution of a corrupt charity isn’t some unheard-of penalty; why, Trump’s own charity agreed to dissolve after James’s office accused it of misconduct too. But the fact that the NRA is facing the same death penalty as Trump’s nonprofit in deeply Democratic New York isn’t an exoneration from the charge that James is playing politics that liberals seem to think. The timing of the lawsuit may be designed to turn the NRA from an advocacy group that’s on offense against Dems this fall into a de facto legal fund that’s playing defense in New York. Maybe the bad publicity and the exasperation among NRA members that so much of their donations have gone to court battles over malfeasance instead of court battles over gun rights will lead to the group being starved of money going forward. In the end, they might choose to dissolve because fighting on is simply too expensive.
Even those who’ve been critical of the NRA say that the push to dissolve the organization is “heavy-handed.”
If there’s fraud and self-dealing (and it seems like there is), prosecute the people who did it. I’ve been very critical of the NRA, but dissolution seems really heavy-handed. It’s also an absolute gift to Trump, 3 months before the election.https://t.co/Ym4VWiv92w
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) August 6, 2020
The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson and Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett were among those accusing the Attorney General of playing politics by trying to shut down the organization, rather than simply pursuing actions against individuals in leadership positions.
There's all the difference in the world between dropping a legal anvil on NRA insiders because you want to vindicate the interests of the org's donors, and demanding the group's dissolution precisely because you don't. /5
— Walter Olson 😷 (@walterolson) August 6, 2020
I oppose an effort to dissolve a nonprofit for governance issues by a public official who, in a 2018 interview, said that, while the NRA presents itself as a “charitable organization,” “in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization.”
Yes, Adam, I oppose this out of hand. https://t.co/0Se94ZAr2O
— Randy Barnett (@RandyEBarnett) August 6, 2020
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents businesses in the firearms and ammunition industries, also released a statement Thursday afternoon calling out the “politically-driven” decision to try to dissolve the NRA.
The lawsuit filed today by Attorney General James seeks to punish the over five million members of the National Rifle Association based on mere allegations of possible wrongdoing by a few individuals.
NSSF is deeply concerned about the apparent political agenda to silence the strongest voice in support of the Second Amendment ahead of the election in November.
This lawsuit, and one filed today by the District of Columbia Attorney General, should concern all Americans who cherish both the First and Second Amendments to our Constitution regardless of their views on what laws and regulations are appropriate to address the criminal misuse of firearms.
Meanwhile, gun control groups are already fundraising off of the decision by the New York AG to pursue litigation against the NRA. In an email, Giffords told supporters that “We won’t rest until the organization has been dissolved for good, but we need your help to keep up the pressure,” before asking donors to contribute anywhere from $10-250 to the gun ban group that accepted a six-figure PPP loan from the federal government to help keep its anti-gun law firm up and running over the past few months.
James decision to try to dissolve the NRA, as well as accuse LaPierre and others of breaking state and federal law without choosing to file any actual criminal charges, adds more weight to the allegations that her investigation and civil lawsuit are motivated more by politics than public service. As Allahpundit noted in his piece at Hot Air, James called the NRA a “terrorist organization” back when she was running for AG in New York. Attacking the NRA has been good politics for James, and with the election just months away anti-gun activists clearly believe her latest salvo is good for the Biden campaign as well. The allegations against NRA leadership are serious, but James is undercutting her own case by making it clear that her ultimate goal is to destroy the NRA, not ensure that its 5,000,000 members are being well-served.