ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A New York State official is taking on the most powerful gun advocacy organization in the country – the National Rifle Association. On Thursday, Attorney General Letitia James announced she has filed a lawsuit to “dissolve the NRA entirely” which challenges the organization’s not-for-profit status.
James filed this lawsuit in Manhattan after an 18 month investigation. She said the investigation shows allegations of high-ranking executives diverting millions of dollars for personal expenses. The lawsuit names four current and past executives of the NRA.
“The NRA has been so powerful the organization went unchecked for decades while executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said.
Attorney Mike Burger said the question is whether or not these expenses were in the interest of the public.
“They lay out a lot of facts which if true would definitely support the relief they’re seeking,” Burger said of the lawsuit. “There could be a settlement, of course, and they could clean house and change the board of directors.”
In a statement on Twitter, the NRA said this of the lawsuit:
“This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend. You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda. This has been a power grab by a political opportunist – a desperate move that is part of a rank political vendetta. Our members won’t be intimidated or bullied in their defense of political and constitutional freedom. As evidenced by the lawsuit filed by the NRA today against the NY AG, we not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail.”
Rich Young is an NRA member from Hilton. He said his mind is open at this point about whether or not the accusations are true.
“She should go after the people that are doing it and not necessarily try to dissolve the entire NRA. That seems to me a step too far politically motivated,” Young said.
Burger said he can see both sides of the political argument.
“The fact that it happens in an election year may be unfortunate but if the investigation started a year ago, these things take time. I think everyone is going to be tempted to look at it through polarizing political lenses but I think it’s also fair to look at whether this would ever be a legitimate lawsuit and if it would be and if the taxpayers are being defrauded, then why would we wait for another time?”
Burger also said lawsuits like this one against non-profits are actually common, people just don’t hear about them because they usually aren’t against high profile organizations. He said he doesn’t think this fight will end quickly.