Judge rejects NRA's claim that it is the victim of NY AG's 'witch hunting'

Friday's dismissal by a New York judge of the National Rifle Association's claim that the investigation by the state attorney general into widespread fraud and mismanagement allegations at the gun group was unfair political retaliation was rejected.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
10 June 2022 Friday 12:34
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Judge rejects NRA's claim that it is the victim of NY AG's 'witch hunting'

Friday's dismissal by a New York judge of the National Rifle Association's claim that the investigation by the state attorney general into widespread fraud and mismanagement allegations at the gun group was unfair political retaliation was rejected.

The NRA had also filed counterclaims against Letitia James, the state attorney general, seeking damages in money and a court order to end her civil lawsuit against the group.

Joel M. Cohen, State Supreme Court Justice, stated that the NRA failed to make "any viable legal claims" that the investigation by the Attorney General was unlawfully retaliatory.

Cohen wrote that the investigation was initiated by reports of serious misconduct. It uncovered additional evidence, which, at a minimum, discredits any suggestion that it was a pretext to penalize NRA for its constitutionally-protected activities.

James shared his celebration of the judge's decision via social media. James tweeted, "Once more, a court rejected the @NRA’s attempts to dismiss the lawsuit against the NRA's years of fraud abuse."

William A. Brewer III, the lawyer for the NRA, stated that he was "disappointed" by the ruling. Brewer III stated that they were disappointed by the decision but that it would not affect the NRA's defense against the NYAG lawsuit.

James brought suit against the NRA in 2020. He accused Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, and other top officials of "years" of illegal self-dealing that funded a "lavish life style.

According to the suit, the executives used the nonprofit corporation as their "personal piggybank," spending millions of dollars from NRA reserves on expensive meals and trips for themselves and their families.

This action was intended to remove LaPierre from the group as well as dissolve the most powerful gun lobbyist in the country.

The NRA denied wrongdoing, and claimed in court papers that the action was the result a "personal vendetta” by James. James had previously referred to the group before she was elected AG as a criminal enterprise and a terrorist organization.

James' March bid to close down the corporation was rejected by the judge. She believed her concerns could be addressed with other remedies such as fines or restitution.

Cohen's conclusion that dissolution was not severe enough was used by the NRA to support its claim that James' probe was politically motivated.

Cohen disagreed with this reasoning.

"Although some of the Attorney General’s claims were denied by the Court for legal reasons, they were serious allegations based on detailed allegations that wrongdoing occurred at the highest levels in a non-profit organization over which the Attorney General has legitimate oversight. Cohen stated that there are many legal claims that remain. The record simply does not support the narrative that the Attorney General's investigation of these unconstitutional matters was political motivated.

Judge also pointed out inconsistencies in group's claim that allegations were fabricated.

The NRA claims that the Attorney General's investigation is 'wrongful', 'pretextual' and that it had undertaken a course correction in order to improve its internal governance and compliance controls. The NRA admits that a "course correction" was necessary, which contradicts its claim that the Attorney General's concerns are completely fabricated. Cohen also wrote that the NRA ignores the fact that the "course correction" was in part a response to the Attorney General's threat."

He also noted that the NRA had stated in court filings that it had reviewed its operations, and discovered people who "had abused their trust."

Cohen wrote that, "So, even though the NRA's internal investigation found evidence of misconduct, it argues outside investigation by Attorney General (exercising clear statutory authority with regard to not-for profit corporations) somehow violated its constitutional right."

The arguments of the NRA were very similar to those made against James last year by former President Donald Trump.

In December 2017, Trump sued James in New York Federal Court, arguing that her years-long civil tax fraud investigation into Trump's company was biased by political animus and a desire "to harass, intimidate and retaliate against an individual who she views as a politically opposed person." There were many disparaging remarks James made about Trump throughout the years.

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