State Watch

Judge blocks New York attorney general’s attempt to break up NRA

A Manhattan judge has blocked New York Attorney General Letitia James’s attempt to break up the National Rifle Association (NRA), though her lawsuit against the gun-rights group is allowed to remain open.

Judge Joel M. Cohen said James’s accusations do not “allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the ‘corporate death penalty.’”

“Her allegations concern primarily private harm to the NRA and its members and donors, which if proven can be addressed by the targeted, less intrusive relief she seeks through other claims in her Complaint,” Cohen wrote in a 42-page decision.

“The Complaint does not allege that any financial misconduct benefited the NRA, or that the NRA exists primarily to carry out such activity, or that the NRA is incapable of continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members,” he added.

The judge also said dissolving the advocacy group would have an impact on “free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members.”

James filed a lawsuit against the NRA and four of its top current and former executives — including CEO Wayne Lapierre — in August, accusing the group of breaching corporate laws that resulted in a loss of more than $64 million over three years. The suit also claimed that the NRA harbored “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight.”

The litigation sought to dissolve the powerful pro-gun organization.

While Cohen said the NRA cannot be broken up on the basis of the lawsuit, he is allowing James’s lawsuit accusing top executives of funneling millions of dollars from its coffers to move forward.

The NRA, Lapierre and one of the other defendants are seeking to dismiss the case, according to The Associated Press.

NRA President Charles Cotton called the judge’s decision “a resounding win” for the group, its members and its supporters.

“The message is loud and clear: the NRA is strong and secure in its mission to protect constitutional freedom,” Cotton said in a statement.

James in a statement said her office was “disappointed” but “heartened” that the judge “rejected the NRA’s attempts to thwart most of the claims in our case against the NRA.”

“Today, the court affirmed my office’s right to pursue its long-standing claims that fraud, abuse, and greed permeate through the NRA and its senior leadership,” she said.

“We are considering our legal options with respect to this ruling. We remain committed to enforcing New York law regardless of how powerful any individual or organization may be,” she added.

Tags charles cotton Joel M. Cohen Letitia James National Rifle Association New York NRA Wayne LaPierre

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