Judge Says New York Lawsuit to Dissolve NRA Can Proceed
A New York judge ruled Thursday that the lawsuit seeking the dissolution of the National Rifle Association will go forward in state court in Manhattan. The gun lobby had asked that the lawsuit, filed by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, be moved to federal court.
In denying the NRA’s request, Judge Joel Cohen said that James is New York’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over nonprofit organizations such as the NRA that are incorporated in New York state. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said.
The judge also rejected an NRA argument that the lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and instead should have been filed in the state capital of Albany, where the group’s incorporation papers list an address.
James filed the lawsuit to disband the organization under state nonprofit law, alleging that top executives illegally diverted millions of dollars
James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state nonprofit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. The lawsuit highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and its longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre, in recent years — from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.
The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, although its physical headquarters is in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Last week it filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas as part of a bid to reincorporate in that state. The group said in its filing it is seeking to escape a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York.”