After serial revelations of alleged corruption that pervaded (pervades?) the highest levels of the National Rifle Association, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued to have the association dissolved after a long investigation into Wayne LaPierre and the association he’s run for decades. However, despite the AG’s desire to euthanize the pro-gun rights org, the New York law places a high bar over which the state must jump to make the case that a non-profit should get the corporate “death penalty.”
Today, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that James has failed to make that case.
As Justice Joel Cohen’s ruling states . . .
The Complaint does not allege that any financial misconduct benefited the NRA, or that the NRA exists primarily to carry out such activity, or that the NRA is incapable of continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members. 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.
The ruling is a significant defeat for James. In a press release, she stated that . . .
…we are disappointed that the judge ruled against the dissolution portion of the case. 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.
It took two years but NY AG Letitia James’ effort to dissolve the NRA has failed. https://t.co/6pMPnR3322 As discussed in my earlier column, the court was concerned over the impact on free speech. James has been celebrated by liberals for this effort… https://t.co/brOzq8ik3t
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) March 2, 2022
Today’s ruling, however, leaves most of the rest of the AG’s enforcement action against the non-profit in tact. As Business Insider points out . . .
[T]he judge’s ruling had harsh words for the NRA and its former leadership, who James accuses of siphoning off millions of dollars from the organization to fund their lavish lifestyles.
“The Attorney General’s allegations in this case, if proven, tell a grim story of greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight at the highest levels of the National Rifle Association,” the judge wrote in the ruling, which was obtained by Insider.
“They describe in detail a pattern of exorbitant spending and expense reimbursement for the personal benefit of senior management,” Judge Cohen wrote, “along with conflicts of interest, related party transactions, cover-ups, negligence, and retaliation against dissidents and whistleblowers who dared to investigate or complain.”
While the NRA as a whole may no longer be in jeopardy, other targets of the AG’s investigation and lawsuit such as LaPierre and a host of current and former officers and directors still have much to be concerned about.