Court Battles

New York sues NRA’s former ad agency over subpoena

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.

Ackerman McQueen has said it cannot comply with the July 8 subpoena without giving the NRA veto power over what it hands over, James said in the lawsuit, which was first reported by Bloomberg News.

{mosads}The ad agency, which split from the NRA this year, reportedly told James it fears it is legally required to allow the gun group to weigh in under a nondisclosure agreement.

The integrity of the probe “would be necessarily and irreparably compromised by allowing the investigative target to review, and potentially countermand, third parties’ prospective document productions,” New York state said in the filing.

“We won’t allow the NRA to slow down our investigation,” James said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. “No one, including the NRA, has the right to interfere with a confidential law enforcement investigation. We will fight to overcome this roadblock that would compromise the integrity of our legal action.”

The NRA disputed the James’s claim that it is blocking access to Ackerman McQueen documents.

“Falsely and disingenuously, the Attorney General’s filing claims that the NRA is blocking access to documents possessed by its former ad agency,” William Brewer III, counsel to the NRA, told The Hill. “In fact, the NRA told Ackerman McQueen to produce everything the AG sought — after giving the NRA a chance to redact privileged information. That, of course, is a tried and true approach routinely followed where, as here, a civil subpoena to a third party implicates a principal’s confidential documents.”   

Brewer added, “This is not a dispute about whether Attorney General James can access NRA-related documents. It’s a dispute about whether she can do so secretly, in a manner designed to circumvent the NRA’s clear legal rights — including the right to protect our members’ personal information from a political witch hunt.”   

Ackerman McQueen declined to comment on the suit.

The probe into the NRA was launched after the group’s former president, Oliver North, alleged that CEO Wayne LaPierre used the NRA to enrich himself. LaPierre denied the accusation and North was ousted from the organization.

The NRA subsequently targeted North and Ackerman McQueen in separate lawsuits.

—Updated at 2:42 p.m.

Tags Letitia James National Rifle Association NRA Oliver North Wayne LaPierre

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