New York attorney general Letitia James sued to dissolve the National Rifle Association on Wednesday, accusing senior members of the organization of fraud stretching over a period of decades.
The lawsuit alleges that four senior current and former officials at the organization, including Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, engaged in “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight.” James accuses the officials of using NRA funds for private expenses including meals, flights, and vacations.
“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. “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.”
The NRA slammed the lawsuit, with the organization’s president, Carolyn Meadows, saying “we will confront it and prevail.”
“This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend,” Meadows said in a statement. “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.”
President Trump also weighed in on the lawsuit.
“That’s a very terrible thing that just happened,” Trump told reporters. “I think the NRA should just move to Texas and live a great and beautiful life.”
James began an investigation into the NRA in 2019 just as the organization was going through a leadership dispute. In a 2018 interview with Ebony, James said that while the NRA presents itself as a “charitable organization,” “in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization.”
The lawsuit accuses LaPierre of “routinely” abusing “his authority as Executive Vice President of the NRA to cause the NRA to improperly incur and reimburse LaPierre for expenses that were entirely for LaPierre’s personal benefit,” including “private jet travel,” “trips to the Bahamas to vacation on a yacht owned by the principal of numerous NRA vendors,” and gifts to friends.
Similar allegations of self-dealing are made against the NRA’s general counsel, John Frazer, as well as former chief of staff Joshua Powell and former chief financial officer Woody Phillips. James also accuses the organization itself of failing to report compensation for senior employees.
“The NRA’s filings included false or misleading statements relating to compensation and benefits conveyed to top employees and officers,” the lawsuit states.