N.Y. state attorney general sues to dissolve the NRA

At a press conference on Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she has sued to dissolve the National Rifle Association, as well as suing four individuals affiliated with the organization for using charitable funds for personal use.

Video Transcript

LETITIA JAMES: Just a few minutes ago, my office filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association to dissolve the organization in its entirety for years of self-dealing and illegal conduct that violate New York's charities law and undermine its own mission. The National Rifle Association, or the NRA, is the largest and influential pro gun organization in the nation. Since its founding in 1871, the NRA has been a registered not for profit charitable corporation in the state of New York.

The attorney general's office has a wide range of regulatory and enforcement powers over charitable corporations and their trustees, including the NRA. The NRA's influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades, while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets. For years, the NRA diverted millions and millions of dollars away from its charitable mission for personal use by senior leadership to award contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family and appeared to dole out lucrative no show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.

This lawsuit specifically charges the NRA as a whole in addition to four individual defendants. One, the first individual, longtime executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who has been the face of the NRA for decades. Two, former treasurer and chief financial officer Wilson Woody Phillips. Three, former chief of staff and the executive director of operations Joshua Powell, and four, corporate secretary and general counsel John Frazier. These individuals in the NRA are charged with failing to manage the NRA's funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, which contributed to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years.

Since its founding in 1871, the NRA has been a registered not for profit charitable corporation in the state of New York. And these organizations are required by law to register and file annual financial reports with the office of the New York State attorney general, and the assets of such an organization are legally required to be used in a way that serves the interest of NRA membership and that advance the organization's charitable mission. However, as today's complaints lays out, we found that the NRA instead fostered a culture of noncompliance and disregard for internal controls that led to the waste and loss of millions in assets and contributed to the NRA's current deteriorated financial state.