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Judge rejects NRA bid to end New York probe into gun rights group -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Wayne LaPierre (CEO of the National Rifle Association) speaks during the NRAILA Leadership Forum at Houston, Texas (U.S.A.), May 27, 2022. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – The National Rifle Association tried to stop an investigation of the state by its attorney general regarding alleged corruption within the gun rights group. A New York judge rejected it on Friday.

Justice Joel Cohen, a New York State Court in Manhattan, said that the NRA didn’t show Attorney General Letitia Jams’ investigation was politically motivated to silence the group.

James, a Democrat sued the NRA on August 2020. He claimed that it diverted millions of dollars to pay for luxuries such as long-serving Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre’s retirement, used no-show agreements for associates, and made other questionsable expenses.

Cohen had, on March 2, blocked James from dissolving the NRA. But Friday’s decision stated she had legal rights against the organization.

“The narrative that the attorney general’s investigation into these undeniably serious matters was nothing more than a politically motivated–and unconstitutional–witch hunt is simply not supported by the record,” he wrote.

William Brewer was a lawyer representing the NRA. He said that while the NRA is disappointed in the outcome, it would not change its Second Amendment advocacy or defenses.

“There is an amazing public record that [James], as a candidate, vowed to target the association–chilling evidence of her motivations toward a political adversary,” he said.

James is running for re-election and said in a statement that the decision “reaffirmed legitimacy and viability” of his office’s lawsuit against NRA for years of fraud and abuse.

Cohen refused to allow James to dissolve the NRA. He found no evidence that the group had benefited financially or was unable serve its members. This is the kind of “public harm,” which could be grounds for a “corporate death” penalty.

LaPierre is long accused of using his 30 years as NRA leader for personal gain.

LaPierre, who was a witness in a case that saw the NRA end its attempt to file for bankruptcy last year and reincorporate Texas to avoid James’ oversight, testified to gifts received by him, including yacht rides from a Hollywood producer. However, he denied wrongdoing.

New York v. National Rifle Association of America Inc, et al. New York State Supreme Court New York County. No. 451625/2020.