New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office will seek judicial approval to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) following the results of an extensive fraud investigation into the organization.
After conducting a multi-year investigation into the NRA’s finances, James said that four former and current officers – Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson Phillips, former Chief of Staff and the Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer – had breached their fiduciary duties and illegally stolen funds from the organization for personal use. In total, James alleged that the NRA lost more than $64 million over the course of three years for use by the four men for personal travel, vacations for family members, expensive gifts for personal friends, and other charges. In addition, James said that the NRA Board of Directors failed to properly exercise oversight of the organization’s funds, engaged in insider dealing for contracts and purchases, took steps to conceal the wrongdoing by officials, and fostered an “environment of non-compliance” with legal reporting requirements. As a registered 501(c)(4) non-profit charity, the NRA is required by New York state law to use funds “to be used in a way that serves the interests of NRA membership and that advance the organization’s charitable mission,” which James says the organization failed to do.
In a press release announcing the lawsuit, James said that “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 lawsuit seeks to shut down the organization, prevent the four named men from serving in leadership positions for charities in the future, and undisclosed monetary damages to reimburse the costs of the funds stolen by the individuals.
Responding to James on Twitter, the NRA called the lawsuit a “baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend” and alleged that it was politically motivated to coincide with the 2020 presidential election.