Rarely are bankruptcies filed with such fanfare and rollout, but that’s just what the nation’s oldest civil rights organization did on Friday, January 15, 2021. The National Rifle Association has declared bankruptcy. They filed the petition in federal bankruptcy court in Dallas and have said they want to re-organize under Texas state law. The non-profit, incorporated in New York, titled a press-release on the issue: “NRA Dumps New York to Reincorporate in Texas.”
More Trouble, or Turning Point?
The NRA has been on the run and in the shadows of late and were functionally absent from the largest gun-rights rally in recent history, in Richmond, Virginia, on January 20th, 2019. The organization spent much of 2019 involved in a knock-down-drag-out legal fight with Ackerman McQueen, a communications firm. That series of suits included public disagreements between the NRA’s Executive Vice-President, Wayne LaPierre, and then president Oliver North.
The NRA regulars essentially accused North and his allies at Ackerman of attempting a coup. While LaPierre’s title is Executive Vice-President, he is the chief operating executive of the organization. He has more power than the president, whose role at the NRA is more of a symbolic figurehead. Mr. LaPierre has faced serious criticism from inside the gun-rights crowd; the more common complaints regard his salary and side deals, which are rumored to earn him a princely sum. These financial arrangements led to another attack, this time from Democrat attorneys general.
Under Fire From NY & DC
In what can only be described as a coordinated effort, two of the country’s most stridently leftist attorneys general filed suit against the NRA. Letitia James in New York argued that because its leaders acted poorly, the entire NRA needed to be disbanded. She said, “I will use the constitutional power as an attorney general to regulate charities, that includes the NRA, to investigate their legitimacy.” Ms. James had called the NRA a “terrorist organization” while campaigning for office. She was joined by Karl Racine, who makes a habit of using D.C. taxpayer funds to press his leftist political agenda.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine fired his shot the same day as Ms. James, against the NRA Foundation, in D.C. Superior Court. Racine asked the court to order NRA Foundation funds to be placed in a trust managed by a court-appointed overseer. What to do if you are the NRA? Fighting these lawsuits would be costly, serve as a massive distraction, and might produce a whole bushel of embarrassing who knows what. The discovery process would likely be invasive. With progressive lawyers hell-bent on the organizations’ destruction, NRA officials could be certain that unflattering communications would be plastered on David Hogg’s Twitter feed.
By and large, Texas is a gun-friendly state, but it’s hardly the only one, and not close to NRA headquarters in Virginia or any other NRA operation. NRA leadership likely chose Texas because that’s the best place they might be able to deal with pending cases. The NRA has an affiliate with litigation already underway in the Lone Star State; as such, they hope to convince a bankruptcy judge to take all the NRA cases and roll them into one, including a rebirth as a Texas company.
On NRAForward.com, a site set up to market the bankruptcy as protection from these suits, a press release said
“Under this plan, the Association wisely seeks protection from New York officials who it believes have illegally weaponized their powers against the NRA and its members,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA in those cases. “The NRA will continue the fight to protect the interests of its members in New York – and all forums where the NRA is unlawfully singled out for its Second Amendment advocacy.”
Letitia James once again let her animosity for the civil rights group slip when she sent this tweet:
The @NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt.
While we review its bankruptcy filing, we will not allow the @NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.
That comment about the NRA’s moral status will undoubtedly be used in court by the organization to demonstrate Ms. James’ persecution, her use of taxpayer funds and high office to settle a political score. No hearings are scheduled yet in the Texas Bankruptcy case.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.