New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) took aim at the National Rifle Association late Friday after the beleaguered conservative group recently aborted a lawsuit against her office and against herself personally.
“The NRA dropping its countersuit today in federal court is an implicit admission that their strategy would never prevail,” the Empire State’s top law enforcement official said in a statement provided to Law&Crime. “The truth is that Wayne LaPierre and his lieutenants used the NRA as a breeding ground for personal gain and a lavish lifestyle. We were victorious against the organization’s attempt to declare bankruptcy, and our fight for transparency and accountability will continue because no one is above the law.”
NRA attorneys Sarah B. Rogers and William A. Brewer III filed a notice of voluntary dismissal with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York earlier on Friday.
“Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i), Plaintiff the National Rifle Association gives notice that the above-captioned action is voluntarily dismissed without prejudice,” the one-page filing reads.
That court filing dismisses a nearly year-old lawsuit against James in her individual and official capacity that alleged she was targeting the NRA for expressly political purposes in violation of the law.
“There can be no doubt that the James’s actions against the NRA are motivated and substantially caused by her hostility toward the NRA’s political advocacy,” the August 2020 filing claimed.
The NRA’s original petition, filed in federal court in the state capitol of Albany, went on to allege that James “maligned” the far-right gun club “without a single shred of evidence, nor any sincere belief, that the NRA was violating the New York Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, or any other law.”
Notably, the lawsuit against James was filed the same day that the New York Attorney General’s Office filed its own lawsuit to dissolve the gun rights group over a litany of allegedly fraudulent conduct.
That lawsuit was filed against the NRA as a whole, as well as the group’s Executive Vice-President LaPierre, former treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former chief of staff and the Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer.
Those allegations include myriad claims that LaPierre and other NRA top brass funneled millions of dollars worth of donor funds into supporting their lavish lifestyles–including trips to Africa, the Bahamas, yachts, private jets, and a lucrative, million-plus-dollar sweetheart consulting gig for Phillips’s girlfriend.
In January of this year, the NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in what the group claimed was an effort to reorganize. James’s office lambasted that effort at the time as “the poster child of a bankruptcy filed in bad faith.” A federal bankruptcy court in Texas just last month agreed with New York authorities and rejected the NRA’s attempt to reorganize under the tax code in a more favorable jurisdiction by expressly ruling “that the NRA did not file the bankruptcy petition in good faith.”
In her Friday evening missive, James again criticized that move.
“This past January, in an effort to avoid accountability, the NRA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy even though the organization still claimed to have healthy financial reserves,” her statement said. “Over the course of the bankruptcy trial, LaPierre and other senior leaders admitted that the bankruptcy was simply a way of avoiding New York’s enforcement action, yet still stated that they believed that New York courts and judges could be trusted to fairly and impartially oversee the case.”
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]
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