By Michael R. Sisak – NBC News, New York March 2, 2022
A judge has rejected an effort by New York’s attorney general to put the National Rifle Association out of business, but will allow her lawsuit accusing top executives of illegally diverting tens of millions of dollars from the powerful gun advocacy organization to proceed.
Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen said allegations of NRA officials misspending on personal trips, no-show contracts and other questionable expenditures can be addressed by other remedies, such as fines and remuneration, and do not warrant the “corporate death penalty” that Attorney General Letitia James had sought.
James’ lawsuit, filed in August 2020, tells “a grim story of greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight” at the NRA’s highest levels, but it does not allege any financial misconduct benefited the organization or harmed the public, or that the NRA is incapable of “continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members,” Cohen wrote in a 42-page decision.
The judge also raised concerns that shutting down the NRA could impinge the free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members. Nevertheless, he said, James’ lawsuit can continue against the NRA, its longtime leader Wayne LaPierre, and three other people who have served as executives with the organization. They had filed a motion to dismiss the case.
“While we’re heartened that the judge rejected the NRA’s attempts to thwart most of the claims in our case against the NRA, we are disappointed that the judge ruled against the dissolution portion of the case,” James said in a statement. “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.”