FOR THE RECORD
NRA Responds to NYAG James' Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit
June 25, 2021 – The NRA commented today on New York Attorney General Letitia James’ motion to dismiss the Association’s lawsuit against her.
“When the NRA determined to hold Letitia James accountable for her politically-motivated lawsuit, it did so with full knowledge that she would attempt to hide behind nonexistent protections and privileges,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA. “This filing is yet another example of Attorney General James repeating discredited accusations as she brazenly attempts to use ‘qualified immunity’ as a shield to avoid scrutiny of her abuse of power.”
Brewer added, “Attorney General James is not above the law. The NRA looks forward to vindicating its members’ rights before a jury.”
According to the NRA’s New York State court filing, dated February 23, 2021, “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory and civil reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech.” This wrongful conduct threatens the freedoms of law-abiding gun owners and all Americans.
As reported, James famously vowed to "target the NRA" and "investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable organization" while on the campaign trail in July 2018 – before spending even one day in office and without any evidence of wrongdoing. As a candidate for NYAG, she called the NRA a “terrorist organization” and a “criminal enterprise.”
In response to the NYAG’s actions, many legal experts and constitutional scholars have opposed her dissolution lawsuit against the NRA.
According to the NRA, during a 12-day hearing that recently occurred over approximately four weeks, the Association established that it had adopted new policies and accounting controls, displaced many “insiders” who had allegedly abused the Association, and accepted payments for costs voluntarily determined to be excess benefits. The hearing proceedings focused on the NRA’s compliance efforts, and the organization’s renewed commitment to good governance.
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.”
Judge Hale specifically acknowledged the NRA’s sustained “course correction” and commended it for elevating a whistleblower, Sonya Rowling – whom the Court called a “champion of compliance” – to Chief Financial Officer. Judge Hale credited testimony that the structural changes that have been instituted within the NRA over the past few years “could not have occurred without the active support” of NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
The NRA is confident that a jury will conclude, as a federal court in Dallas did after weeks of testimony earlier this year, that the NRA is committed to complying with its governance and internal controls, and that its diligence in that regard began long before James commenced her misbegotten case.