A judge said New York's attorney general cannot dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) for alleged corruption and mismanagement, but can still seek the ouster of the gun rights group's longtime Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre.
Justice Joel Cohen of a New York state court in Manhattan said Attorney General Letitia James' accusations mainly concern private harm to the NRA, its members and donors, not financial mismanagement or an inability to serve its members.
He said James' claims could be addressed without shutting down the NRA, which is incorporated in New York, and without potentially infringing its members' free speech rights.
"The complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the 'corporate death penalty," Cohen wrote.
He said James could seek LaPierre's ouster under state laws governing nonprofits after describing in "meticulous detail" his alleged exploitation of the NRA for his financial benefit, abuse of power, and "general disregard for corporate governance."
In a statement, James said she was disappointed that the dissolution claims were dismissed, but pleased she could try to show how "fraud, abuse, and greed permeate through the NRA and its senior leadership." She will review her legal options.
Lawyers for the NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
James, a Democrat, sued the NRA in August 2020, and accused it of engaging in suspect transactions and awarding improper perks to LaPierre and others, while evading accountability.
The NRA responded by filing for bankruptcy protection in January 2021 and trying to reincorporate in Texas.
A Dallas bankruptcy judge dismissed that case four months later, calling it an improper effort to gain an "unfair litigation advantage" and avoid James' oversight.
Founded in 1871 in New York, the NRA accused James of violating its free speech rights because she disliked its politics and support of Republicans, many of whom favor expanding gun rights. James has denied those claims.
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