New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit that seeks to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA), The New York Times reported. It could take years for the suit to play out, an analyst predicted.
On Thursday, James not only filed the suit aimed at dissolving the 148-year-old gun-rights advocacy organization but also sued four top men currently or formerly affiliated with the organization, seeking tens of millions of dollars in restitution. Those men are Wayne LaPierre, the longtime chief executive; John Frazer, the organization’s general counsel; Josh Powell, a former top aide of Mr. LaPierre’s; and Woody Phillips, a former chief financial officer.
The suit claims that members of the group illegally enriched themselves, their friends, their families and their allies, and that, through “improper actions,” cost the organization $64 million over three years.
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets. The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law,” James said.
Specifically, according to CNBC News, the organization had a $27.8 million surplus in 2015, but by 2018, the group was $36 million in the red.
James alleges that the deficit is due, at least in part, to lavish personal spending on the part of the NRA’s leadership, in violation of their fiduciary duties as well as New York and federal laws. LaPierre, for example, allegedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private trips for himself and his family, including eight visits to the Bahamas and all-expense paid safaris in Africa with his wife, Susan, according to the lawsuit.
Other allegations include “improper expense documentation, improper wage reporting, improper income tax withholding” and failing to make required excise tax reporting and payment, among other issues.
The NRA, for its part, had previously accused James of carrying out a politically-motivated crusade to destroy it.
“Everybody knows we were singled out. Everybody knows that it’s politics. Everybody knows why it’s really happening. And it’s wrong,” LaPierre said in an interview last year.
James has had success in the past taking down groups of powerful, politically-connected individuals. For example, she helped oversee the dissolution of the Trump family’s charitable foundation. However, the NRA is considerably bigger, with millions of members as well as connections to powerful politicians. Times writer Danny Hakim predicted that this legal fight could go on for years.