New York’s lawsuit against NRA can proceed, judge rules

Gun Rights

A judge on New York’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a lawsuit from the state against the National Rifle Association may proceed.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued the lobbying group and its Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre in August, alleging it violated state laws on nonprofits’ financial practices. Last week, the NRA announced it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reincorporate in Texas.

In a motion to dismiss, it asked the court to prevent James from suing in state court and change the venue to Albany, where the organization was headquartered before the reincorporation announcement, Reuters reported.

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“It would be inappropriate in these circumstances to find that the attorney general cannot pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants would prefer to proceed in federal court,” Justice Joel Cohen ruled.

“Today’s order reaffirms what we’ve known all along: the NRA does not get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions,” James said in a statement. “We thank the court for allowing our case to move forward and look forward to holding the NRA accountable.”

While bankruptcy filings typically halt lawsuits, James has asked for an exemption, saying it is part of her “police and regulatory” enforcement, according to the news service.

“The NRA expressly stated that it is seeking to exit New York, its state of incorporation for nearly 150 years, to escape the authority of this Court and the oversight of the Attorney General, whom it falsely accuses of ‘an abuse of legal and regulatory power,’ ” New York Assistant Attorney General James Sheehan said Wednesday in a letter obtained by Law & Crime.

James’ lawsuit accuses LaPierre of mishandling of donations for personal expenses and private jet trips, and accuses other executives of similar personal use of finances.

“The NRA argued that the most appropriate venue for this case, along with its lawsuit against the NYAG, is Albany,” William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA, said in a statement to The Hill. “Although the Association disagrees with Justice Cohen’s construction of the venue statute, it remains confident that the NYAG’s unconstitutional claims lack merit.”

Updated 3:18 p.m. 

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