Wayne LaPierre, NRA vice president and CEO, attends the NRA annual meeting of members at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. A statement was read at the meeting announcing that NRA president Oliver North, whose seat at the head table remained empty at the event, would not serve another term. There have been recent reports of tension between LaPierre and North, with North citing financial impropriety within the organization. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has inserted the state into another lawsuit championed by conservatives — this one involving the State of New York and the National Rifle Association.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a civil case against four NRA executives accusing them of siphoning off the nonprofit’s money for their own personal enrichment. Landry has joined the NRA and 15 other Republican attorneys generals in fighting back against James with a separate lawsuit in federal court.
“The New York Attorney General’s actions threaten the civil rights of five million NRA members — including citizens of Louisiana,” Landry said in a press release Wednesday. “I am proud to fight back against this partisan attack on the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who respect the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
James filed a civil case in August that alleges the four NRA executives, including its longtime Vice President Wayne LaPierre, used the organization’s charitable assets to live extravagant lifestyles despite already receiving multimillion dollar salaries. James accuses the executives of violating accounting controls and numerous state and federal laws and cheating the NRA out of more than $64 million over three years.
LaPierre is accused of purchasing luxury vacations, private flights, gifts and other items as well as securing lucrative no-show contracts for former employees to “buy their silence,” among other allegations spelled out in a lengthy press release from the New York office.
James is asking the New York Supreme Court to recoup the millions spent by the executives and to dissolve the organization, which is registered in New York as a nonprofit. In its lawsuit, the NRA claims that a forced dissolution would violate the First Amendment by punishing the organization for its constitutionally protected Second Amendment advocacy.
The NRA’s face-off with New York has rippled across the country with conservative state attorneys general fielding the call of the organization’s political lobbying arm by intervening in the case with taxpayer-funded lawyers and resources to back the gun-rights group. As of Dec. 23, 16 state attorneys general have joined the legal battle, accusing James of using her public office to serve what they say is her personal liberal agenda. In the brief that Landry filed for Louisiana, he says New York’s attorney general is simply discriminating against the NRA “because she doesn’t like its members’ political views.”
James, a Democrat, referred to the NRA as a “terrorist organization” during her 2018 campaign and vowed to investigate it, according to the New Yorker.
Landry has involved his office in hot-button political issues all year.
- Landry sued the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life to stop millions in grant money to help local governments pay for elections, and a judge in St. Martin Parish ruled against him.
- He intervened in a case to stop increased access to the ballot box in November and December, and a federal judge ruled that the state had to provide more access.
- He issued an official attorney general’s opinion that Gov. Edwards’ order shutting down bars and requiring face masks was unconstitutional, but a federal judge in New Orleans, and a federal judge in Lafayette said Edwards’ order was legal.
- This month, Landry was one of 17 Republican attorneys general who backed a lawsuit out of Texas urging the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out votes in four other states. The Supreme Court wouldn’t hear the case.
- A Baton Rouge judge ruled against Landry when he took the side of Republicans in the Louisiana House who tried to use a petition to suspend the governor’s power to issue emergency health orders, but the state Supreme Court determined that the judge made a procedural error and ordered it back to that court where it remains pending as of Dec. 23.
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