Alternative headline: NY AG makes surprise massive in-kind contribution to Trump 2020 reelection campaign.
Update: The NRA’s president responds on Twitter:
(1/3) NRA PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO NY AG:
This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend. You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as…
— NRA (@NRA) August 6, 2020
(3/3) Our members won’t be intimidated or bullied in their defense of political and constitutional freedom.
As evidenced by the lawsuit filed by the NRA today against the NY AG, we not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail.
— NRA (@NRA) August 6, 2020
Update: Cato Institute’s Walter Olson tweets the NY lawsuit is “outrageous.”
An outrageous show of government legal force with the aim of suppressing advocacy on issues of public concern. This is as much an assault on the First as on the Second Amendment. #CatoSCOTUS https://t.co/LLsWiVGCbX
— Walter Olson 😷 (@walterolson) August 6, 2020
New York announced its lawsuit — which seeks not just to punish individuals it accuses of wrongdoing, but also the death penalty against the organization itself — on the same day the NRA announced its 2020 election-year effort in the battleground states.
Original story: New York State’s Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday morning her intent to sue the National Rifle Association out of existence.
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday announced that the state is seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association in a lawsuit that accuses the leadership of the flagging nonprofit of diverting millions of dollars for their own personal use.
According to the lawsuit, the senior leadership of the NRA squandered millions in donations on personal trips, private jets and expensive meals. The failure to lawfully manage the organization’s funds contributed to losses of $64 million over three years, the suit says.
While the suit examines the fiscal practices of the non-profit, James could not resist introducing politics.
“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 announcing the suit. “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 political ramifications of an ambitious blue-state attorney general seeking to use lawfare to destroy a troubled organization that the Democratic Party routinely denigrates and accuses of all manner of heinous crimes year after year are impossible to miss. The NRA’s political spending, while dwarfed by the far more extensive spending Big Labor lavishes on Democrats in every election cycle, is influential and leans to the right.
While allegations of financial mismanagement within the NRA have swirled over the past year, James’ action may inject not just the NRA but the Second Amendment itself into the 2020 election. The Trump campaign and other Republicans can point to James’ actions as a Democrat-sanctioned attempt to tear apart one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, should they choose to, without defending anything anyone in the NRA has actually done.
Should the suit succeed, the consequences will be felt well beyond politics — which may also be the point. Among other things, the NRA is part of the firearms certification process in many states. Its instruction programs are either required or one of just a couple of options for handgun license instructors.