The Attorney General of New York will seek to dissolve the National Rifle Association after discovering the gun group has allegedly engaged in severe financial misconduct.
In a lawsuit filed on Thursday, state Attorney General Letitia James said she found the NRA lost more than $64 million over three years.
The 18-month investigation discovered that top executives funneled contracts to friends and family members and used charitable funds for their own personal gain.
“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 said in a statement, according to NPR. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”
Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine also announced on Thursday that he would be suing the National Rifle Association Foundation, claiming donor money meant to fund firearms safety and training was instead “diverted to support wasteful spending by the NRA and its executives.”
The New York attorney general’s office opened its investigation of the NRA in April 2019 after a report from The Trace revealed financial mismanagement in the group that apparently allowed top vendors and executives to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts.
The lawsuit accuses NRA higher-ups of “enriching themselves” with donor money. In James’ crosshairs are Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre, former general counsel John Frazer, former Chief Financial Officer Woody Phillips, and former chief of staff Joshua Powell.
Frazer “had only a brief 18-month tenure in private practice and was unprepared to manage the legal and regulatory affairs of the NRA,” the lawsuit alleges.
Following The Trace’s explosive report last year, the gun lobby has started to collapse amid infighting with top executives and ad agency Ackerman McQueen. Board members began jumping ship nearly a year ago after it was discovered that LaPierre had billed Ackerman McQueen for more than half a million dollars over the years. LaPierre also went on a $39,000 shopping spree at a Beverly Hills store on Ackerman McQueen’s dime, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The NRA is now suing Ackerman McQueen, which led to the ad agency severing ties with the gun lobby and shutting down NRATV, the propaganda arm of the group that served to spew faux-outrage and conspiracy theories.
In a separate lawsuit filed in August 2019 against the NRA’s former second-in-command Oliver North, the NRA alleged that North engaged in an extortion plot to oust LaPierre. But at the gun group’s annual convention last year, North announced that he was being pushed out.
Leaked NRA documents obtained by HuffPost at the time revealed that North was “deeply concerned about the extraordinary legal fees the NRA has incurred” from attorney Bill Brewer. The letter alleged that $24 million was spent on legal services over a 13-month period in which top executives were receiving massive payouts.
New York’s Department of Financial Services filed civil charges against the NRA in February, accusing it of peddling insurance products — like “Carry Guard” — without a license, in partnership with insurance broker Lockton Companies, CNBC reported.
On Thursday ― the same day it was announced that attorneys general are suing the group ― Jason Ouimet, who runs the NRA’s lobbying arm, told the Washington Free Beacon the group plans to spend “tens of millions” of dollars in battleground states to get President Donald Trump reelected. It’s unclear where that money will come from, but Ouimet claimed it will be from “grassroots” supporters.