On Friday, a Manhattan judge rejected the NRA’s bid to throw out a lawsuit by New York’s attorney general.
AG Letitia James can continue to seek to bar Wayne LaPierre from leading the gun group.
James is also seeking an independent monitor, something the NRA likened to a state “takeover.”
In a legal loss for the NRA and its newly re-elected leader, a Manhattan judge on Friday rejected the gun group’s bid to quash a lawsuit that seeks to install an independent monitor and oust Wayne LaPierre from its helm.
The decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen allows a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James to move forward by rejecting the NRA’s claim that she pursued the gun group solely out of political bias.
The NRA has failed to prove that James pursued the NRA only because of her political views, the judge ruled.
Instead, James’ allegations of “fraud, waste, and looting” are enough to justify her lawsuit, regardless of her political beliefs, the judge wrote.
“There are no factual allegations suggesting that the stated concerns driving the investigation — reports of fraud, waste, and looting within the NRA — were imaginary or not believed by the Attorney General,” the judge wrote.
None of the AG’s claims are frivolous, Cohen added.
“In fact, the NRA itself recognized many of the same issues about corporate governance underlying the Attorney General’s investigation,” the judge wrote.
An NRA attorney said the group “will continue fighting for its members and the freedoms in which they believe,” and that it is reviewing its appellate options.
“The NRA believes the NY AG’s pursuit was fueled by her opposition to the Association and its First Amendment activities in support of the Second Amendment,” said the spokesperson, William A. Brewer III.
As a candidate running for the AG position in 2018, James had called the NRA “a terrorist organization” and “a criminal enterprise.”
James’ lawsuit seeks to oust LaPierre from the group’s helm by barring him and three other leaders from ever heading a non-profit in New York.
The lawsuit also seeks to install a court-appointed monitor, something the NRA has likened to a state “takeover” attempt.
Finally, the lawsuit seeks restitution from the four leaders; James has accused the leaders of pocketing tens of millions of dollars in NRA funds and using it for vacations, meals and clothing.
The same judge who ruled against the NRA on Friday had sided with the group just two months ago, in another key ruling. He refused to dissolve the group in its entirety, as James had originally requested, arguing that doing so could impinge on the free speech rights of its millions of members.
James has yet to say if she is appealing that ruling.
LaPierre was reelected as the group’s executive vice president in late May, during the NRA’s annual meeting in Houston. The meeting was held less than 300 miles east of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
In a statement issued after the ruling, James called the NRA’s failed attempt to halt her lawsuit “bogus.”
“Today, the court reaffirmed the legitimacy and viability of my office’s lawsuit againstthe NRA for its years of fraud, abuse, and greed,” her statement said.
“Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue because no organization is above the law.”
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