New York Governor Andrew Cuomo thought he was on to something. Since there was little he could do to impact the firearm industry outside of New York, he decided to try something else. After all, his state is the financial nerve center of the world.
So, he did. He started exerting pressure on the financial industry to declare war on the gun industry. He didn’t use that rhetoric, but that’s basically what he was doing.
Now, that plan has backfired thanks to the NRA.
The National Rifle Association filed suit against the New York State Department of Financial Services and Governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) on Friday, alleging they violated the group’s First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, said New York engaged in a “viewpoint-based discrimination campaign” against the NRA and its members. It claims that the governor and regulatory agency he oversees have engaged in a pressure campaign against financial institutions that deal with the NRA.
“Directed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, this campaign involves selective prosecution, backroom exhortations, and public threats with a singular goal—to deprive the NRA and its constituents of their First Amendment right to speak freely about gun-related issues and defend the Second Amendment,” lawyers for the gun rights group wrote in their filing. “To effect their sweeping agenda, Defendants issued public demands that put DFS-regulated institutions on notice to ‘discontinue their arrangements with the NRA’ and other ‘gun promotion organizations’ if they planned to do business in New York.”
The suit alleged that the letter from Maria Vullo, superintendent of the state’s Department of Financial Services, to a number of financial institutions it regulates amounts to a public threat against New York banks doing business with the organization. They went on to say the public letter was combined with pressure applied out of public view, which they said were tantamount to coercion.
“At the same time, Defendants engaged in back-channel communications to reinforce their intended purpose,” the filing said. “Simply put, Defendants made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA.”
Basically, Cuomo seems to have engaged in a little, “That’s a nice bank you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”
This isn’t a high school kid from Florida trying to pressure companies with a relationship with the NRA to abandon their partners. As annoying as that is, it’s still a free speech issue.
But Cuomo is the governor of a large state, a man who has the power to really hurt businesses that don’t comply with his wishes. Making what can only be described as threats through his underlings isn’t free speech. It’s an abuse of power designed to destroy his ideological opponents.
It’s not enough that he disagrees with people like us. He has to destroy us.
And, frankly, that’s not power any elected official should have. I don’t care who they’re trying to destroy either. Right is right. It doesn’t matter if the target is the NRA or Moms Demand Action.
It’s just too bad that anti-gun zealots don’t feel the same way.