The New York state attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to dissolve the powerful gun rights advocacy organization and charging its leadership with illegally diverting funds for their own gain.
Attorney General Letitia James presented her lawsuit at a news conference in New York City, alleging that the NRA’s leadership misspent $64 million over three years for personal use, awarded contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appeared to dole out lucrative “no-show" contracts to former employees to buy their silence and continued loyalty.
In the lawsuit, James contended that four defendants – Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre; Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former treasurer and chief financial officer; Joshua Powell, former chief of staff; and John Frazier, former director of operations — "instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive and fraudulent."
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James, a Democrat, said. The organization, she said, “is fraught with fraud and abuse,” which is why her office is seeking to dissolve it, “because no organization is above the law.”
Though its headquarters are in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and continues to be incorporated in the state.
Speaking to reporters Thursday as he left the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump called the suit a “very terrible thing” and said the NRA should move to Texas, which he said was "an appropriate place" for the organization.
Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C., attorney general has simultaneously sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the organization designed to provide programs for firearm safety, marksmanship and hunting safety, accusing it of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by top executives.