Misleading reports exist about several legal matters involving the NRA. This website presents key documents and facts — to set the record straight and allow the public to judge for itself.
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NRA Files Motion to Dismiss New York Attorney General's Amended Complaint
September 16, 2021 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) has filed a Motion to Dismiss the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) Amended Complaint, filed on August 16, 2021. The NRA's motion was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
Filed on September 15, 2021, the Motion to Dismiss claims that the NYAG seeks to dissolve the NRA in an effort to "silence the constitutionally guaranteed political speech of its 5 million members." It states that, "[e]ven if the allegations against current and former executives are taken as true (as they must be, for purposes of this Motion), the NRA and its Board would be the victims of the alleged wrongdoing—not perpetrators."
"Despite the benefit of a full investigation, multiple amendments, sweeping discovery in the NRA’s federal bankruptcy case, and a twelve-day trial in the federal bankruptcy court featuring twenty-three witnesses, the NYAG fails to allege any wrongdoing perpetrated or approved by the NRA’s Board sufficient to meet its burden to plead specific, non-conclusory allegations implicating a majority of the Board, or any decisions of the Board that are not subject to business judgment protection," the Motion to Dismiss states. "The NYAG’s allegations are nothing but speculative, conclusory allegations about supposed misconduct by individual executives with no allegations against the majority of the NRA’s Board."
"Further, a federal bankruptcy court found after a review of voluminous evidence, that the NRA has undertaken a sustained effort to improve its internal compliance procedures and is in position to continue fulfilling its mission," the filing states.
In a decision dated May 11, 2021, Judge Harlin D. Hale wrote, “In short, the testimony…suggests that the NRA…understands the importance of compliance. [T]he NRA can pay its creditors, continue to fulfill its mission, continue to improve its governance and internal controls, contest dissolution in the NYAG Enforcement Action, and pursue the legal steps necessary to leave New York.”
Legal experts and constitutional scholars have long criticized the NYAG's case against the NRA, which was initially filed in August 2020.
In December 2020, 16 state Attorneys General filed a legal brief supporting the NRA. The Attorneys General wrote, "The New York AG cannot be allowed to wield the power of her office to discriminate against the NRA simply because she doesn’t like its members’ political view, advocacy, and defense of a fundamental constitutional freedom."
On August 25, 2020, ACLU National Legal Director David Cole published an editorial criticizing the NYAG’s pursuit of the Association, in which he writes, "Dissolution is proper only where a corporation is so subsumed by waste, misuse or fraud that it no longer fulfills a charitable purpose. There is simply no precedent for such extreme action against an organization like the NRA, which, whether you like it or not, has been serving charitable purposes very effectively (indeed, many of its opponents would say, too effectively) for a century and a half.”
New York Court Sides with NRA in Denying Motion to Intervene
September 8, 2021 – The New York State Supreme Court today denied a motion to intervene by two NRA lifetime members, Francis (“Frank”) Tait and Mario Aguirre, in the matters involving the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”). The NYAG filed a dissolution lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020.
Following oral argument earlier today, the NRA and its counsel, Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors (“BAC”), prevailed in opposition to the closely-watched motion.
Tait is a lifetime member from Wayne, Pennsylvania, who had run as a write-in candidate for the NRA Board of Directors in 2019, and has stated his intention to run as a write-in candidate for the 2021 elections. Aguirre is a lifetime member from Birmingham, Alabama.
The proposed intervenors sought to intervene in order to derivatively assert defenses, cross-claims and counterclaims on behalf of the NRA. The proposed intervenors also opposed the NYAG’s effort to dissolve the NRA.
The Court ruled that proposed intervenors lacked standing to intervene and assert derivative claims on behalf of the NRA under the New York Not-for-Profit Law because they do not represent at least 5% of any class of NRA members. The Court also held that the intervenors failed to allege that they made a demand on the NRA Board of Directors for the relief they sought upon intervention, but that they were denied by the Board, as is also required under New York law. The Court also stated there was no showing that a majority of the Board was complicit in any alleged wrongdoing.
The Court held that the proposed intervenors had no right to intervene based on any relevant statute. The Court further held that the proposed intervenors lacked the requisite interest in this proceeding. Specifically, as members, they lack the required interest in the NRA’s assets, and their general interest in preventing dissolution was insufficient to support intervention.
The Court also held that the proposed intervenors’ rights are adequately represented by the NRA and by the NYAG. Specifically with regard to BAC’s representation of the NRA, the Court stated there was no basis to consider a motion to disqualify BAC as counsel and that only a current or former client of BAC would have standing to make such a motion. Importantly, the Court stated it had no evidence before it that the NRA Special Litigation Committee is incapable of making decisions regarding the NYAG case.
Finally, although the Court declined to base his ruling on untimeliness, he suggested that he agreed with the NRA’s argument that the motion was untimely as a matter of law, filed some 10 months after the case was commenced.
NRA’s Legal Position Against Ackerman McQueen Gets Lift as Several of the Agency’s Claims are Dismissed
August 17, 2021 – The National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”) today announced significant developments in its legal dispute with former vendor Ackerman McQueen (“AMc”).
In an opinion, dated August 16, 2021, U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish, granted the NRA’s Motion to Dismiss several significant claims brought forward by AMc – namely, Business Disparagement and Tortious Interference. In addition, the court significantly cut down AMc’s fraud claim against the NRA. The court’s ruling dramatically impairs AMc’s case and postures the Association favorably for trial.
On the critical issue of whether the NRA disparaged AMc by virtue of a communication from EVP & CEO Wayne LaPierre to the NRA Board of Directors, dated April 25, 2019, the court agreed with the NRA: that claim fails for multiple reasons. AMc failed to demonstrate how such a communication harmed the agency’s commercial interests, and it failed to adequately plead special damages. Separately, with respect to the tortious interference claim, the judge found that the claim is “barred by the economic loss rule.”
With respect to AMc’s fraud claim, two out of three clusters of allegations alleged to give rise to fraud were deemed defective as a matter of law; the claim survives solely on the basis of alleged “fraud” surrounding the involvement of an individual (a former BAC professional at the time) in an audit performed by an outside party. The court notes that the briefing did not address whether “AMc was already contractually obligated to release the documents irrespective of whether BAC [Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors] was involved in the audit and, if so, whether such an obligation defeats AMc’s claim.” The NRA believes it will prevail at trial on this issue as a matter of law.
The NRA said it believed the developments “validate the view of NRA leadership: many of Ackerman’s claims totally lack merit.” The NRA added, “The Association is eager to proceed to trial – to hold this former vendor accountable, expose its failing public narrative, and protect the interests of NRA members.”
The court treated as facially without merit conspiracy allegations premised on counsel (specifically including the NRA General Counsel and Secretary John Frazer and BAC) acting as co-conspirators. Even when counsel allegedly act with “mixed motives” (presumed true for purposes of a Motion to Dismiss), they act within the scope of their agency, consistent with the role of the zealous advocate.
In another significant development, Judge Fish notes that AMc “provides no detail whatsoever” to support its assertion that BAC coordinated negative Wall Street Journal reporting that followed Mr. LaPierre’s letter to the NRA Board of Directors advising of alleged actions against the Association. The NRA has alleged that inappropriate demands were placed upon Mr. LaPierre and the Association by former NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North, in coordination with AMc, during April 2019 board proceedings in Indianapolis.
NRA Filing Argues NYAG Cannot Dissolve It
July 20, 2021 – In an amended verified answer and counterclaims filed in New York Supreme Court, the NRA argued that the dismissal of its bankruptcy case and judge’s findings demonstrated that New York Attorney General Letitia James cannot shut down the organization. The filing cited U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. Hale’s decision finding that the “NRA now understands the importance of compliance” and had undertaken a “course correction.”
“Simply put, Judge Hale’s findings of fact preclude, as a matter of law, any contention that the NRA is conducted in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner, such as to harm or menace the public welfare, that would be required to support dissolution,” the NRA’s filing stated.
Furthermore, the filing stated that the lawsuit brought by the NYAG has been condemned as overtly unconstitutional by 16 states, multiple scholars, and the ACLU. “Politically motivated and born of the NYAG’s threats even before she assumed office, this proceeding is counterproductive to any legitimate charitable-supervisory effort. Most importantly, for all who love our democratic institutions, it will fail,” the filing added.
The filing also stated, “James knew, or should have known, during her investigation and before commencing this Action that the NRA had undergone this extensive course correction, yet she nevertheless continued the investigation and commenced this Action to dissolve the Association. Because compliance and good governance were never her priority; rather, political retaliation was her goal.” The filing added that James’ actions amount to a “retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech.”