Today, the Attorney General of the State of New York, Letitia James announced through a press conference that she was filing suit against the National Rifle Association (NRA), Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, former treasurer and chief financial officer Wilson Philips, corporate secretary and general counsel John Frazer and former chief of staff and the executive director of general operations Joshua Powell. New York State is suing to dissolve the NRA based on the accusation of misuse of funds, engaged in self-dealing, and made false or misleading disclosures to the attorney general and the IRS.
James said during a press conference, "As today's complaints lays out, we found that the NRA ... fostered a culture of non-compliance and disregard for internal controls that led to the waste and loss of millions of assets and contributed to the NRA's current deteriorated financial state".
The NRA fired back on Twitter in a statement from NY NRA Board Member, Tom King, "As stated in the complaint, I was privately warned by then NYAG Eric Schneiderman that Governor Cuomo was engineering an attack on the NRA. I was told Cuomo would use every resource to pursue his lifelong dream of defeating the NRA, and an ‘investigation’ of our Association was on the horizon. I always expected better of the governor, and hoped he would rise up to honor the principles under which he was elected".
The NRA’s president, Carolyn Meadows, said in a statement that the lawsuit was a “baseless, premeditated” attack on the NRA and on gun rights.
“You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle,” she said. “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.”
The NRA countered on Thursday by filing a federal lawsuit against James in the Northern District of New York, claiming James' actions restrict the corporation's freedom of speech and seeking a judicial declaration that the NRA complied with state law.
President Trump criticized the lawsuit against the NRA in brief remarks shortly after it became public. “That’s a very terrible thing that just happened,” he told reporters. “I think the NRA should move to Texas and lead a very good and beautiful life. And I've told them that for a long time. I think they should move to Texas.”
President Trump made a comment on Twitter stating, "Just like radical left New York is trying to destroy the NRA, if Biden becomes President your GREAT SECOND AMENDMENT doesn't have a chance. Your guns will be taken away, immediately and without notice. No police, no guns!".
Ari Fleischer was on Fox News' Overtime and said, "The New York attorney general is “one of the most partisan figures”. He continued, “This is how an office gets politicized. On the merits of this, there are always two sides to a lawsuit. Let’s see what the NRA says to defend themselves here, I don’t know the facts, but on the politics of it, this is one of the dumbest biggest mistakes an attorney general or anyone can make on an election year”.
Fleischer said that James ran an election campaign on an “anti-President Trump, anti-Republican and anti-conservative platform."
Fleischer said that the move by James is a “mistake during an election year” because it will “energize gun owners across the country as if they are not energized already. If you think there is a threat to your Second Amendment rights before, wait until the Democrats now try to get rid of the organization that represents gun owners,” Fleischer said.
“This, politically, is going to backfire on the Democrats and then of course, as a suit, it’ll play out over years, not weeks. But the politics are playing out immediately,” he noted.