New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement after Justice Joel Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court rejected the counterclaims brought by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that were made in response to Attorney General James’ lawsuit against the organization:
“Today, the court reaffirmed the legitimacy and viability of my office’s lawsuit against the NRA for its years of fraud, abuse, and greed. For almost two years, the NRA has tried every trick in the book to avoid culpability for their actions, only to be repeatedly rejected by the courts. Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue because no organization is above the law.”
In today’s decision, the court rejected the NRA’s claims that Attorney General James’ investigation into the organization’s self-dealing, abuse, and unlawful conduct were an unconstitutional, politically-motivated “witch hunt.” Instead, the court maintained that Attorney General James’ claims against the organization’s wrongdoing are serious and viable, and are well within her office’s jurisdiction to investigate.
In August 2020, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against the NRA and four of the organization’s current and former top executives for failing to manage the NRA’s funds; failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, as well as the NRA’s own bylaws and policies; and contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years. The suit was filed against the NRA as a whole, as well as LaPierre, Frazer, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, and former Chief of Staff and Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell.
The NRA then moved to dismiss Attorney General James’ complaint in its entirety, stay the action, and change the venue to an Albany court. In January last year, the New York County State Supreme Court ruled that the case be permitted to continue in a Manhattan court, and not be moved to an Albany court or dismissed outright. In March 2022, the New York County State Supreme Court rejected a second round of motions brought forward by the NRA, Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer as they sought to dismiss the lawsuit.
In an effort to avoid accountability altogether, the NRA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy even though the organization still claimed to have healthy financial reserves. In May last year, a federal bankruptcy court in Texas rejected the organization’s claims of bankruptcy after the NRA sought to reorganize in Texas, finding that the NRA had filed for bankruptcy to avoid regulators and stating, “that the NRA did not file the bankruptcy petition in good faith.”