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NY & DC AGs v. NRA

NEWS REPORTS

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Former NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre Found Liable for Corruption, Cost Gun Rights Group More Than $5 Million: Jury
Fox News, February 23, 2024

Fox News reports on the verdict rendered by a Manhattan jury in the civil corruption trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the NRA, former CEO and EVP Wayne LaPierre, former CFO Wilson Phillips, and General Counsel John Frazer.

Among other things, the jury "determined Wayne LaPierre's violations of his duties cost the NRA $5,400,000, but he had already repaid roughly $1 million to the organization."

The article includes comment from the NRA, which said in a statement that what "they contended all along — that it was victimized by certain former vendors and ‘insiders’."

NRA President Charles Cotton said that members should be "heartened" by the organization's "commitment to best practices."

"We appreciate the service of the jury and the opportunity to present evidence about the positive direction of the NRA today," Cotton said. "NRA members should be heartened by the NRA’s commitment to best practices, and we will continue to amplify our compliance record in the pivotal next phase of these proceedings. To the extent there were control violations, they were acted upon immediately by the NRA Board beginning in summer 2018. READ MORE.

 
NYAG Told To Fix 'Cagey' Disclosures Ahead Of NRA Trial
Law360, September 14, 2023

Law 360 reports that the NYAG’s office has been ordered to give the NRA a list of allegedly fraudulent transactions it plans to put before a jury early next year, “expressing disappointment at the state's ‘cagey’ pretrial disclosures thus far.”

 

As reported, “New York Supreme Court Justice Joel M. Cohen gave the direction during daylong oral arguments ahead of a scheduled January trial in Attorney General Letitia James' self-dealing suit against the NRA. Dating back to 2020, the case alleges that chief executive Wayne LaPierre spent many millions of the pro-gun group's nonprofit dollars on private jet trips and other off-the-books personal benefits.”

 

"We're entitled to know with whom we were alleged to have transacted, when, and what was improper about the transactions," said Sarah Rogers of Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors.

 

Law 360 reports that Justice Cohen ordered the state to notify both the NRA and the court about what specific transactions are going to come in at trial. He said this is especially important in an official enforcement action where the attorney general has "substantial power" over a private defendant.

 

“I have found throughout this case, including today, that the attorney general's lawyers have acted honorably in serving that role, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise," Justice Cohen added. "[Here], though, I have found that their responses are just a little cagey.”

 

The trial is scheduled to open January 8, 2024, and last at least a month. READ MORE.

 
NRA Claims NY Seeks to 'Crush' Gun Rights Group in Battle with AG's Office
New York Law Journal, March 17, 2023

The New York Law Journal reports that the NRA has appealed the New York Supreme Court's June 2022 order that dismissed the NRA's First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims – without discovery – against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

 

The front-page article chronicles the NRA’s 58-page appellate brief, including the NRA’s claim that the lower court decision dismissing the counterclaims “practically draws a roadmap for how officials can abuse state power to destroy the ability for non-profits to advocate for positions disfavored by the government.”

 

According to the article, “Under the lower court’s decision, so long as the targeted entity has committed any technical infraction whatsoever, it would have no redress for the blatant violation of its First Amendment rights,” the brief from Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors partner William A. Brewer III states. READ MORE

 
NRA Digs in for Legal Fight Against Woke Prosecutor over Alleged 'Roadmap' of Abuse
Fox News, March 15, 2023

Fox News reports that the NRA is "hitting back against Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James' years-long battle and self-described campaign to 'take on the NRA' over alleged corruption." 

The report notes that the NRA recently filed an appeal of the New York Supreme Court's June 2022 order that dismissed the NRA's First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims – without discovery – against James. According to the report, the NRA is arguing that James weaponized the powers of her office "to silence" the Second Amendment group.

"The NRA believes the motivation for her ensuing campaign against the Association is clear: she desired to silence the organization and its Second Amendment advocacy," NRA counsel William Brewer III told Fox News Digital. READ MORE

 
NRA Pushes Back Against NY Attorney General's Demand that an Independent Monitor Babysit Its Operations
BusinessInsider, June 7, 2022

Business Insider reports that the NRA is "fighting back against New York Attorney General Letitia James' demand for an independent monitor who would oversee the gun group's operations, calling the idea 'intrusive, unnecessary and unprecedented.'"

In a new court filing, the NRA says James is overstepping her statutory powers and that 

such a monitor — along with an "independent governance expert" to advise on needed "reforms," as James is also requesting — "would burden the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its millions of members."

"There is no colorable practical need, and no legal basis, for the NYAG to contrive a de facto takeover of the NRA to replace her defunct dissolution claims," it says. "Rather, the parties should proceed with discovery and trial on the NYAG's previously existing claims, and the new one should be dismissed." READ MORE

 
NRA Scores Court Victory Against AG Letitia James in New York
The Daily Caller, March 2, 2022

The Daily Caller reports that the NRA won a legal victory today when a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the New York Attorney General cannot dissolve the gun-rights group. 

“In short, the Complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the ‘corporate death penalty,'” New York Supreme Judge Joel Cohen ruled. 

“This is a resounding win for the NRA, its 5 million members, and all who believe in this organization,” NRA President Charles Cotton said. “The message is loud and clear: the NRA is strong and secure in its mission to protect constitutional freedom.”

The Daily Caller reports that Judge Cohen also dismissed claims of unjust enrichment and violations of the Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act, “which seek essentially the same financial relief as other claims,” according to the ruling. READ MORE

 
Judge Tosses New York AG’s Bid to Dissolve NRA
The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2022
 

The Wall Street Journal reports that a state court judge dismissed the New York Attorney General's attempt to dissolve the NRA, "ruling that the state's allegations of corruption and mismanagement by NRA top officials fell short of the public harm required to impose the 'corporate death penalty' on a nonprofit group."

 

The Journal noted that the ruling "represented a big win for the NRA." 

“We applaud the court’s recognition that dissolution is neither appropriate nor justified,” said William A. Brewer III, an outside attorney for the NRA. “We look forward to continuing the defense of the NRA—and proving that it acts in the best interests of its members and the Second Amendment freedoms in which they believe.” READ MORE

New York Judge Presses State on NRA Dissolution Effort
Reuters
December 10, 2021
 

Reuters reports that, during a hearing on December 10, a "judge questioned whether New York Attorney General Letitia James' bid to shut down the National Rifle Association goes too far if the issues she has with the gun rights group are limited to alleged financial misconduct by its leadership."

The report states that Justice Joel Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court pressed counsel for the NYAG on whether dissolution is appropriate rather than "addressing the specific problem." 

According to Reuters, the judge did not indicate when he may issue a ruling. READ MORE

 
NRA Files Motion to Dismiss New York AG's Lawsuit for Dissolution
The New York Law Journal
September 16, 2021
 

The New York Law Journal reports that the NRA has filed a Motion to Dismiss the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) Amended Complaint, filed on August 16, 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."

“Since taking office in 2019, the Attorney General has ignored evidence that dissolution is improper and that the NRA Board of Directors acted appropriately at all times,” William Brewer, counsel to the NRA, told the Journal. “The NRA will continue to confront this partisan attack—in the interest of its members and the Second Amendment freedom for which they stand.” READ MORE

NRA Says Its ‘Corporate Death’ Unwarranted in New York Lawsuit
Bloomberg
September 16, 2021
 

Bloomberg reports that the NRA "urged a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying she hasn’t shown rampant misconduct by top executives. Even if she could prove her claims, they would mean the NRA was a victim and that James’ push to dissolve the guns-rights group is misguided, it argued in a court filing." READ MORE

NRA Says Bankruptcy Shows Why NY Attorney General Cannot Shut It Down
Reuters
July 21, 2021
 

Reuters reports that a court filing by the NRA argues that the dismissal of its bankruptcy case and judge’s findings demonstrate that New York Attorney General Letitia James cannot dissolve the organization for alleged corruption. 

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. Hale’s decision cited testimony that the NRA’s finances were the strongest in years and that the NRA “now understands the importance of compliance.” The filing also renewed the NRA’s demand for an injunction against a shutdown.  READ MORE

NRA Countersues NY Attorney General for Trying to Dissolve 'Political Enemy'
Reuters
February 24, 2021

Reuters writes that the NRA has filed a countersuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying she lacks authority to invoke state laws governing nonprofits to dissolve "political entities" such as itself.

In a Tuesday night filing with a New York state court in Manhattan, the gun rights group, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, accused James of pursuing a "blatant and malicious retaliation campaign" against it because she dislikes what it stands for. READ MORE

Attorneys General Issue Statements on Amicus Brief Backing NRA Lawsuit
December 2020

On December 21, sixteen Republican attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of the NRA's lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James. The following are statements released by some of the attorneys general:

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge:

“Even if it makes me unpopular in places like New York, I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms. That is why I oppose the New York Attorney General’s political stunt and am proud to lead these 16 States in supporting the NRA’s lawsuit against New York. I repeat my invitation to the NRA: The Natural State would happily welcome an organization that fights for the Second Amendment rights of Arkansans and all Americans.”
 

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr:

“The Second Amendment is a basic and essential constitutional right, and I will always defend the ability of Georgians to exercise their right to defend themselves, their families and their property." 

Kentucky Governor Daniel Cameron:

“For nearly 150 years, the NRA has advocated for the Second Amendment rights of citizens across the country and given their membership a platform to advocate for policies consistent with these rights. New York’s lawsuit threatens the constitutionally protected work of the NRA and, if successful, would greatly diminish the voice that Kentucky’s NRA members have in the process. The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental constitutional right, and we’re going to fight to protect it.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry:

“The New York Attorney General’s actions threaten the civil rights of five million NRA members - including citizens of Louisiana. I am proud to fight back against this partisan attack on the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who respect the constitutional right to keep and bear arms."

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey:

“New York’s lawsuit seeks to destroy the Second Amendment. West Virginia remains in fervent support of the Second Amendment. Our office will vigorously oppose any effort to roll back gun rights and attack those who cherish the freedom to bear arms."

Sixteen GOP Attorneys General Back NRA in Federal Lawsuit
The Wall Street Journal
December 22, 2020

Sixteen Republican attorneys general on Tuesday filed a brief in support of the National Rifle Association’s federal lawsuit against Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying she targeted the nation’s largest and most powerful gun-rights group because she disagreed with its politics.

“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 views, advocacy, and defense of a fundamental constitutional right,” the filing said. READ MORE

Republican Attorneys General Back NRA in Fight Against New York Effort to Dissolve Gun Rights Group
The Washington Post
December 22, 2020

The Washington Post reports, "The ongoing legal battle between the National Rifle Association and New York’s attorney general escalated Tuesday when 16 Republican attorneys general backed the gun rights group in seeking to block a New York effort to dissolve the tax-exempt organization.
 

"In August, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a lawsuit that also called for the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group to finance a luxury lifestyle.
 

"James’s Republican counterparts Tuesday filed an amicus brief in federal district court in Albany challenging New York’s legal efforts." READ MORE

NRA, Battling on 2 Fronts, Aims to Move AG James' Lawsuit Out of New York City
New York Law Journal
November 13, 2020

The National Rifle Association is battling in court on two fronts to move a high-profile lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James aiming to dissolve the gun-rights group out of New York City.

 

The NRA has asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to send four federal lawsuits focused on its financial troubles to a courtroom in North Texas. The cases include a First Amendment lawsuit the NRA filed against James. But, in an unusual move, the NRA’s motion suggests that an MDL could include the attorney general’s case, pending in Manhattan Supreme Court.

 

James was dismissive of the NRA’s maneuvering as her office responded on Thursday.

 

But NRA attorney William Brewer argues that James’ lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court, must be folded into an MDL because it contains the same testimony and evidence that are subject to the other actions. In a footnote to its motion, the NRA said it “takes the view that the action belongs in federal court as a compulsory counterclaim” because James did not actually file a verified complaint until four days after the NRA’s countersuit. READ MORE

NRA's LaPierre Responds to NY Lawsuit: 'Bring It On'
The Hill
August 6, 2020

The Hill reports that CEO Wayne LaPierre said the gun rights group is ready for the fight following the announcement of a lawsuit from the New York attorney general seeking to dissolve it.
 

In his first statement on the lawsuit on Thursday, LaPierre called New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) actions “an affront to democracy and freedom.” READ MORE

NRA Seeks to Renew Objections to Former Ad Agency's Production of Documents, Citing Privilege
New York Law Journal
May 18, 2020

Attorneys representing the National Rifle Association are once again seeking to stay the production of documents by its former advertising agency to the New York Attorney General’s Office, a process that the gun rights advocacy group argues will violate its right to attorney-client privilege. READ MORE

Civ Pro Professor Arthur Miller Says NRA Has Right to Review Ad Agency's Response to Subpoena
New York Law Journal
November 15, 2019

Law professor and author Arthur Miller, appearing as an expert in civil procedure Thursday, agreed with the National Rifle Association’s argument that the New York Attorney General’s Office cannot prevent the gun-rights group from reviewing potentially privileged material in the possession of its former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, which has received a state subpoena.


The subpoena is related to the Attorney General’s Office’s ongoing investigation into the NRA and its financial affairs, which was publicly confirmed in April. READ MORE

National Rifle Association, New York Attorney General Square Off In Heated Courtroom Battle
Newsweek
October 31, 2019

The New York State Attorney General's Office and the National Rifle Association squared off in state court Thursday morning, as the two quarreled over whether the NRA had a right to review documents related to the attorney general's investigation into its tax-exempt status.

New York County Supreme Court Justice Melissa A. Crane held off announcing a final decision at the end of the hearing, though the fractious nature of the disagreement and the potential consequences of Attorney General Letitia James's probe loomed large over Thursday's arguments. READ MORE

NRA Spars With N.Y. AG Over Subpoena of Its Former Ad Agency
Bloomberg
October 31, 2019

The National Rifle Association and the New York attorney general’s office squared off in a Manhattan court over whether the gun-rights organization has the power to prevent state investigators from seeing documents subpoenaed from its former advertising agency. READ MORE

NRA Says It Doesn't Have To Comply With New York AG If It Doesn't Think It Is Getting In Her Way
Newsweek
October 2, 2019

New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued the National Rifle Association and its former public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, over what she alleges is a pattern of obstruction and interference from the nation's largest gun-rights group as part of her office's ongoing investigation into its tax-exempt status. READ MORE

New York Sues NRA's Former Ad Agency Over Subpoena
The Hill
October 1, 2019

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday sued the National Rifle Association's (NRA) former advertising agency to enforce a subpoena related to the gun group's nonprofit status. READ MORE

N.Y. Attorney General Launches Probe of NRA Finances
New York Daily News
April 27, 2019

Charges that National Rifle Association officials have mismanaged the gun-rights group’s money have prompted a probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The attorney general “has launched an investigation related to the National Rifle Association (NRA),” spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said Saturday in an email. “As part of this investigation, the Attorney General has issued subpoenas.” READ MORE

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