AFP

New York seeks to dissolve NRA over financial mismanagement 6 August 2020 - 19:36

The state of New York announced Thursday it was suing the National Rifle Association and its leader Wayne LaPierre for financial fraud and misconduct, aiming to dissolve the powerful conservative lobby.State Attorney General Letitia James said LaPierre and three other top NRA officials used the dues and donations of members for years as their "personal piggy bank," spending tens of millions of dollars on themselves and cronies in violation of laws governing non-profit organizations.The four "basically looted its assets," she said, leaving the once wealthy group that pumped millions into Republican political campaigns essentially insolvent, James said.For decades the NRA has represented the views of millions of gun owners and enthusiasts across the United States, fighting with substantial success to loosen and eliminate laws on gun control, citing the Constitution's Second Amendment right to bear arms.It was able to shape major political races by endorsing candidates who lined up with its views and pummel those who supported firearms regulation.LaPierre, who ran the NRA for nearly three decades, became one of Washington's top power brokers in the process. But James said LaPierre illicitly used NRA funds to pay for private jets to carry his family on frequent luxury vacations to the Bahamas, and pumped millions of dollars without explanation through a travel agency.LaPierre also accepted lavish gifts and trips from vendors supplying the NRA, and gave himself a $17 million retirement package without the approval of the association's board.The suit accused former NRA treasurer Wilson Phillips of hiring himself as a consultant to the organization for $1.8 million, and hiding tens of millions in expenses for NRA executives as payments to its public relations contractor, Ackerman Queen.Two others were also accused in similar schemes and of nepotistic practices."The NRA's influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets," said James."The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law."The lawsuit came as the NRA, though financially weakened, was expected to pump huge sums into the looming presidential and Congressional election in November.

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