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NY AG files lawsuit to dissolve the NRA after 18 month investigation

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
August 06, 2020

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association on Thursday in an effort to dissolve the organization.

In a press release, James accused the NRA of illegal conduct due to mishandling millions of dollars of funds identified in an 18-month investigation.

“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 Attorney General 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 targets the organization as a whole and four senior leaders — Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former Chief of Staff and the Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer.

James’ lawsuit alleges that the four senior leaders used millions of dollars for personal use, such as “trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel.”

The lawsuit accuses LaPierre, specifically, of using millions of NRA funds for private plane trips, $500,000 for eight chartered plane trips to the Bahamas, and hundreds of thousands in gifts. LaPierre also secured a $17 million compensation package for himself if he leaves the organization, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also claims LaPierre, along with Phillips, Powell and Frazer, arranged agreements for departing NRA officers and employees that “provided excessive payments in exchange for little, if any, services and non-disclosure/non-disparagement agreements.”

“LaPierre handpicked individuals in senior staff positions at the NRA that have shown themselves to be loyal to LaPierre as an individual, rather than to the organization,” James stated. “Time and time again, LaPierre has shown that loyalty, more than competence and responsibility, is integral to his staffing picks, which led him to personally hire Phillips, Powell, and Frazer — some chosen despite failing to meet the necessary skills or experience for their respective roles and responsibilities.”