New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a bombshell lawsuit in a state court seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association and alleging millions in donor funds were diverted under the leadership of NRA president Wayne LaPierre.
The NRA “operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality”, James said in a news conference. “For these years of fraud and misconduct we are seeking an order to dissolve the NRA in its entirety.”
New York’s lawsuit, filed in state court in Manhattan, is a civil complaint, but James said the investigation was continuing and she expected criminal referrals would be made if warranted by evidence.
The NRA is the largest organisation of gun owners and for decades has been a powerful supporter of Republican politicians and an effective opponent in the US Congress of Democrat-backed gun control proposals.
The association responded in a series of tweets calling the suit “a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda”.
With headquarters in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, the NRA is a non-profit organisation incorporated in New York state. Attorney General James began investigating the NRA more than a year ago when accusations surfaced about the misuse of donor funds by NRA president LaPierre.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Manhattan after an 18-month investigation, highlighted misspending and self-dealing allegations that have roiled the NRA and its longtime leader LaPierre, in recent years – from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17m post-employment contract for himself.