New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to dissolve the powerful National Rifle Association, alleging self-dealing among the organization’s top officials despite being registered as a non-profit.
James accused senior leadership at the nation’s largest pro-gun lobbying group, including chief executive Wayne LaPierre, of diverting millions of dollars away from “the charitable mission” for trips to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals and other luxury items.
The group also appeared to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to “buy their silence and continued loyalty.”
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said in a statement. “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.”
James is asking the court to dissolve the NRA and require each of the current and former executives named in the suit to pay full restitution. The suit argues that the four executives, including LaPierre, should be barred from serving on the board of any charity in New York.
The lawsuit claims that the organization had a $27.8 million surplus in 2015, which dwindled by $64 million just three years later as the group reported being $36 million in the red.
LaPierre, who has led the lobbying group for decades, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private trips for himself and his family, the suit alleges. Those trips include eight visits to the Bahamas and all-expense-paid safaris in Africa with his wife, Susan, according to the lawsuit.
Over the past two years, LaPierre also spent $3.6 million on travel consultants and several million dollars on private security for himself and his family, according to the suit.
At a Manhattan press conference, James said the NRA operated as “a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality.”
“Today we send a strong and loud message: No one is above the law, not even the NRA, one of the most powerful organizations in this country,” she said.
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