NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement after Justice Joel Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court rejected efforts by two members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to intervene in the countersuit the NRA brought against Attorney General James following the lawsuit she filed to dissolve the organization in August 2020:
“No matter who argues on its behalf, the fact remains that the National Rifle Association is fraught with fraud and abuse. Over a year ago, we laid out how the NRA went unchecked for more than a decade while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets. We are grateful that the court denied today’s motion and look forward to our case moving forward expeditiously without further delay. Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue undeterred because no organization is above the law.”
In August 2020, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against the NRA and four of the organization’s current or former top executives for failing to manage the NRA’s funds; failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, as well as the NRA’s own bylaws and policies; and contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years. The suit was filed against the NRA as a whole, as well as Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former Chief of Staff and Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer.
That same day, the NRA filed a countersuit against Attorney General James. This past June, the NRA dropped that countersuit in an implicit admission that their strategy would never prevail.
That action came after, this past January, in an effort to avoid accountability altogether, the NRA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy even though the organization still claimed to have healthy financial reserves. Over the course of the bankruptcy trial, LaPierre and other senior leaders admitted that the bankruptcy was simply a way of avoiding New York’s enforcement action, yet still stated that they believed that New York courts and judges could be trusted to fairly and impartially oversee the case. In May, a federal bankruptcy court in Texas rejected the organization’s claims of bankruptcy after the NRA sought to reorganize in Texas, stating, “that the NRA did not file the bankruptcy petition in good faith.”
Then, this past June, the NRA filed new counterclaims, which Attorney General James moved to dismiss. The two NRA members today sought to bring claims against the four individual defendants Attorney General James named in her action — LaPierre, Phillips, Powell, and Frazer — and claims against non-parties, as well as counterclaims against Attorney General James.
Attorney General James took no position on whether intervention by the two members was appropriate for the purpose of asserting cross- or non-party claims.