On Thursday, a New York Attorney General decided to take action against the National Rifle Association. After a long 18-month investigation, the New York Attorney General has found enough evidence that the NRA indulges in abuse and fraud.
Letitia James, New York Attorney general, filed a lawsuit on Thursday in order to dissolve the NRA. The investigations revealed that the NRA has contributed to at least $64 million loss in a period of over three years. They also found that the association is linked to multiple financial frauds of several million.
The lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General alleged that funds collected from charities have been used by top NRA officials for personal use. The other allegations include the NRA providing friends and family with contracts and handing contracts out to ex-staff members for their loyalty.
This latest lawsuit by the New York Attorney General is one of the aggressive measures taken against the NRA. Letitia James has the authority to order organizations registered in New York to cease all their operations. She can also dissolve orders to New York organizations. Reports suggest that the not-for-profit NRA will contest the lawsuit in court.
In a statement released by the NRA, they accused the New York Attorney General of being politically biased in taking this action. They also said that the lawsuit is a premeditated action against the NRA and is baseless. The NRA further argued that this lawsuit fringes upon the second amendment rights of every American. They further stated that they are ready to fight the lawsuit, defend the second amendment right, and prevail against it.
Meanwhile, the New York Attorney General said in a statement that the NRA holds immense political influence, and so, they were left unchecked for several decades. She claimed that millions of dollars have been funneled by top NRA executives. James further said that because of the various fraudulent activities inside the NRA, they have decided to dissolve the organization. She also added that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.
The New York Attorney General’s lawsuit mentions the name of the association as a whole. Additionally, it also mentions some former and current NRA execs. Some of them include Wayne LaPierre – Executive Vise President and CEO, John Frazer – General Counsel, Woody Phillips – Former Chief Financial Officer, and Joshua Powell – Former Chief Of Staff of the NRA.
The list of financial misconduct includes several examples. Some of them include the top NRA execs using charity funds for private jets, expensive exotic meals, and private vacations. The New York Attorney General’s office released a statement saying that the NRA presided over a culture of exploitation, negligent oversight, self-dealing, and mismanagement. It further states that millions of assets have been wasted because of it.
If successful, according to the lawsuit, none of the four mentioned individuals will ever be able to serve on a New York charity board again. The New York Attorney General also demanded that the four mentioned NRA executives pay back the funneled money, resign from the organization, and dissolve the NRA.
Charges Against The CEO Of NRA
Wayne LaPierre has served the organization, at the capacity of a top executive, for almost thirty years. One of the accusations against LaPierre is that he used charity funds to secure a retirement contract worth $17 million. The contract has not been approved by the NRA BoA.
Other allegations include pocketing expense reimbursement of $1.2 million. The lawsuit also claimed that LaPierre spent over $3.6 million for private purposes in just the last 2 years. It has also been noted that anyone who tried to speak up against LaPierre’s behavior was shut up.
The New York Attorney General Names Four More Top NRA Executives
Woody Phillips is the former CEO of the NRA, and the lawsuit accuses him of not disclosing try finance forms and setting up personal deals for his girlfriend and himself.
The investigators found that Phillips directed a $1.8 million retirement package without the knowledge of the NRA treasurer. He has also, allegedly, directed a similar contract of $1 million towards his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Joshua Powell is accused of tripling his income in just 2 years of service. The New York Attorney General also alleged that Powell used charity funds to benefit his family. He has, allegedly, approved a $5 million consulting contract with McKenna & Associates. In return, the firm gave Powell’s spouse a consulting salary of $30,000 per month. He also manipulated a vendor into hiring his father to be their photographer. All the bills were ultimately sent to the NRA.
James Frazer, on the other hand, is not accused of fraud himself, but he is accused of overseeing and ignoring the frauds. He is also accused of misleading NRA’s annual financial statements and not complying with the whistleblower laws.
What Are The Other Financial And Legal Challenges?
Apart from the Thursday lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General, Attorney General From Columbia has also filed a suit. The lawsuit was filed against the NRA Foundation in Washington DC.
Karl A. Racine, Attorney General From Columbia, said that the NRA Foundation has prioritized the interest of the top executives rather than the charities. Racine states that it violates the local laws of Columbia.
In a statement released by Racine’s office, they said that organizations dedicated to charities should not violate the trust of the public. They further added that, with the lawsuit, they wish to recover whatever public funds that the NRA executives pocketed. Racine also stated that charitable groups should focus on the welfare of the public and not indulge in lobbying, private profit, and political campaigns. The Attorney General’s office further warned other nonprofits from indulging in illegal activities.
It looks like the NRA has several legal battles to fight. In another investigation by NPR, last April revealed a voice recording from the NRA meeting, where LaPierre can be heard saying that the legal battle will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to the NRA.
In the audio clip retrieved by NPR, LaPierre can be heard saying that in the years of 2018 and 2019, the National Rifle Association lost over $100 million.
The finances of the NRA have sagged over the years as they have faced many congressional investigations and multiple inquiries by several state attorney generals. The lawsuit by the state attorney general of Columbia and the New York Attorney General Are just the recent names in the list of lawsuits against the NRA. Another cause of trouble for the NRA is the several whistleblowers from inside the association who have exposed them to the press or members of the state.
The NRA is currently involved in litigation with its former public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen. The public relations firm filed a brief on 15th April, where they have indicated that more than $54 million have been paid to outsider legal counsel firms by the not-for-profit NRA in the last 2 years.
Why the legal battle between the New York Attorney General and several others against the NRA is important is because this association, quite popularly, lobbies for a political party. Their financial difficulties might affect the upcoming 2020 presidential elections. In 2016, several million dollars were invested by the NRA on the (then) Republican candidate, Donald Trump.
Given the present financial crisis the NRA is going through, many have speculated that the NRA won’t be able to donate as much to President Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, which could have significant ramifications.