NRA alleges financial difficulties in New York lawsuit

NRA alleges financial difficulties in New York lawsuit
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The National Rifle Association (NRA) is alleging that it is facing financial danger after the state of New York pressured financial institutions to cut ties with the gun group.

The NRA claims in a lawsuit, obtained and first reported by Rolling Stone, that the state of New York sought to hurt the organization by urging financial institutions and insurers not to work with the gun group. 

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The organization is suing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Maria Vullo, New York’s superintendent of financial services. An amended version of the complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in New York last month.

The lawsuit stems from a May decision by New York financial regulators over “Carry Guard,” an NRA-marketed insurance policy for members who face legal costs after firing a gun legally. The DFS determined that the policy was illegal under New York state law and that the insurers who provided it must stop selling the policies and pay a $7 million fine.

The NRA alleges that the decision, along with "threats" by Cuomo, also pressured insurers to drop other policies tied to the gun group.

William Brewer, an attorney for the NRA, told The Hill in an emailed statement that the gun group “is suffering setbacks with respect to the availability of insurance and banking services — as a result of a political and discriminatory campaign meant to coerce financial institutions to refrain from doing business with the NRA.”

Brewer called the actions of Cuomo and the financial regulators “a blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of our organization,” adding that they “will further harm the NRA, chill the commercial activities of institutions regulated by DFS, and penalize law-abiding New York insurance consumers.”

In response, Cuomo's office announced Friday afternoon that New York would be filing a motion to dismiss the NRA's lawsuit against the state, asserting that Cuomo and the state's actions were not in violation of the groups' First Amendment rights.

“New York we will not be intimidated by the NRA’s frivolous lawsuit to advance its dangerous gun-peddling agenda,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE and Washington, DC may be bought and paid for by the NRA, but in New York we are listening to the voices of people across the nation calling for action to keep our communities safe. While the NRA tries to play the victim, New York stands with the real victims — the thousands of people whose lives are cut short by gun violence every year.”

Cuomo has previously called the NRA's lawsuit “a futile and desperate attempt to advance its dangerous agenda to sell more guns.”

The gun rights organization also states that it has lost insurance coverage after its carrier said it “was unwilling to renew coverage at any price.”

The lawsuit alleges that the NRA may be forced to shut down NRATV and other publications after it lost its media liability coverage.

The group claims that it could lose access to financial services because “multiple banks” are distancing themselves from the NRA “based on concerns that any involvement with the NRA — even providing the organization with basic depository services — would expose them to regulatory reprisals.”

"If the NRA is unable to collect donations from its members, safeguard the assets endowed to it, apply its funds to cover media buys and other expenses integral to its political speech, and obtain basic corporate insurance coverage, it will be unable to exist as a not-for-profit or pursue its advocacy mission," the complaint states.

The NRA cites Cuomo's past statements and actions against the NRA, claiming that for him "weakening the political advocacy of the NRA is a career strategy."

New York officials are moving "to coerce insurance agencies, insurers, and banks into terminating business relationships with the NRA that were necessary to the survival of the NRA as a charitable organization," the filing alleges.

Financial issues are not new for the NRA: The group overspent by nearly $46 million in 2016, according to Rolling Stone.

The group has faced intense scrutiny after several mass shootings, most notably at a Parkland, Fla., high school. Student activists from the school publicly associated the pro-gun group with lawmaker inaction on gun control.

The NRA cited the backlash the organization has faced in the wake of the tragedies in the lawsuit, including a tweet from Cuomo urging businesses in New York to reconsider their ties to the group.

Updated: 4:30 p.m.