New York Attorney General Letitia James’ gambit to destroy America’s oldest civil rights organization has failed. On the afternoon of March 2, the state’s supreme court denied her attempt to impose a “corporate death penalty” against the NRA. Meanwhile, the organization’s leaders were not as lucky, especially Wayne LaPierre. The CEO and executive vice president’s corrupt practices were highlighted once more, including the operation of a kind of private plane Uber service for his family – paid for by NRA members.
To Save It She Had to Kill It
Wednesday’s order was issued by Justice Joel M. Cohen of the Supreme Court of New York. He ruled on a motion by the NRA, plus several of the organization’s bigwigs individually, to dismiss the claims against them filed by Attorney General James in August of 2020. Her complaint alleged massive self-dealing and corruption against LaPierre and his confederates and abettors atop the NRA. If the allegations of endemic corruption throughout the association’s leadership weren’t bad enough, James’ prescription to cure it was. She made it her mission to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As Liberty Nation reported at the time:
“The NRA has hundreds of millions in revenue with over 500 employees, and is the best known civil rights group on guns. The New York attorney general believes that because four to six people at the top were scamming the members, those members would be better off with no NRA at all.”
The power grab was daring, if not breathtaking. If she had succeeded, Letitia James would be singlehandedly responsible for delivering the largest blow in history to the gun lobby and, consequently, all Americans’ gun rights. She tried to kill the NRA through her position as attorney general. Because the NRA was chartered in New York long ago, the state had special rights in the non-profit corporation’s oversight. Justice Cohen wrote:
“In short, the Complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the ‘corporate death penalty.’ Moreover, dissolving the NRA could impinge, at least indirectly, on the free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members.”
James rode in on a moral high-horse, trampling the rights of every NRA member all the while. She could have done more damage if she had just done her duty and charged LaPierre and the organization’s corrupt leaders. Instead, she tried to attack her political enemy.
That’s Not in the Brochure…
Judge Cohen’s order granted the motion to dismiss by the NRA, but not the individuals accused of fleecing it. LaPierre looks exactly like any corrupt person who spends other people’s money with no accountability. He is accused of using the association’s funds to fly hither and yon on private jets for his convenience. The CEO says he used private planes due to “security reasons.” While that may be a stretch, it’s at least plausible. What’s not is the private jet travel NRA members paid to fly LaPierre’s family all over. Cohen states in his ruling, “the NRA incurred over one million dollars in expenses for private flights on which LaPierre was not a passenger.” According to Attorney General James, the NRA board did not know or consent to these flights and charges.
Now that the NRA is not in grave danger of legally imposed extinction, perhaps the leadership will suffer for its sins. Previously the group was fighting an existential struggle, and it made some sense not to break battle lines with LaPierre and those who helped themselves to funds. Liberty Nation asked Amy Hunter, the NRA’s director of media relations, if the organization and LaPierre would continue to speak with one voice in light of the ruling. She declined to answer that question and instead supplied LN a statement on the case, which said in part:
“The NRA has argued that it has demonstrated a commitment to good governance, and long believed that the NYAG’s case was part of a political vendetta. NYAG James famously vowed to ‘target the NRA’ and ‘investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable organization’ while on the campaign trail in July 2018 – before spending even one day in office and without any evidence of wrongdoing.”
Wayne LaPierre has been the head of the NRA since 1991. The association’s board has a duty not to LaPierre and his executive appointments, but to the membership. The serious and credible fraud accusations must be seen separately from James’ political attacks. With the Second Amendment under sustained attack from politicians and the media, American gun owners are wary of further rights being stripped away. When the nation’s leading lobbyist for gun rights could be all that stands between lawful citizens and those who wish to violate their right to bear arms, is it any wonder that supporters of gun control are trying to destroy this last bastion of defense?
NOTE: The author is an NRA member.
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.