The New York attorney general called for the dismissal of the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy, alleging it was filed to escape state oversight.
The case is improper because the NRA has openly stated that the gun rights organization is “in its strongest financial condition in years,” New York said in a filing Friday in bankruptcy court in Texas. The Chapter 11 was also brought in bad faith to avoid New York’s lawsuit seeking to dissolve it, the state said.
The NRA is “essentially fleeing or seeking an end run around a pending regulatory enforcement action in New York,” the state said in the filing. The lawsuit filed last year by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges the NRA diverted charitable donations for years to enrich the organization’s top executives in violation of laws governing nonprofits.
“The filing is another transparent move in a partisan crusade to shut down the NRA,” said William A. Brewer III, a lawyer for the NRA. He denied that the group is trying to avoid New York’s lawsuit. “As the Association has said repeatedly, it welcomes the opportunity to litigate these contrived claims and the motives which led to their filing.”
The state in its filings also took aim at NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who it claims fleeced the gun rights organization. LaPierre has disputed New York’s allegations.
LaPierre, who was among the signers of the group’s bankruptcy petition, “is accused of looting the NRA, yet he has made the determination and signed the petitions in an effort to use the bankruptcy court to remove the NRA from regulatory oversight,” the state said in its filings.
In the filing, New York highlighted allegedly improper spending over the years, including LaPierre’s reimbursement between 2013 and 2017 for more than $1.2 million in expenses, including more than $65,000 for Christmas gifts from the executive, $800 in mosquito control treatments outside his home for “security purposes” and membership fees for Susan LaPierre for the Shikar Safari Club International, “which cost thousands of dollars annually.”
The NRA is now facing a host of challenges to its bankruptcy. On Wednesday, ad agency Ackerman McQueen Inc. made similar claims of bad faith and ask that the case be tossed out.
The NRA and the ad agency have been locked in a complex legal battle that began in 2019.
Earlier this week, a former director for the NRA called for an investigation into fraud allegations made against the NRA in the New York lawsuit. Phillip Journey, a Kansas judge and former state legislator, asked the NRA’s bankruptcy judge to appoint an independent investigator to determine the truth of claims.
The NRA has said the bankruptcy filing will allow it to reincorporate in Texas, free from the “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York.” But in its court filings, New York points to state law that gives it broad control over the structure of charities incorporated there -- like the NRA.
The state asked that a court-appointed trustee take control of the NRA if its bankruptcy judge won’t toss the case.
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, is a donor to candidates and groups that support gun control, including Everytown for Gun Safety.
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