NRA drops countersuit, will fight New York AG in state court

Wayne LaPierre

FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, in Oxon Hill, Md. Federal Judge Harlin Hale announced his decision Tuesday, May 11, 2021, to dismiss the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy case over whether the powerful gun-rights group should be allowed to incorporate in Texas instead of New York, after 11 days of testimony and arguments. Lawyers for New York and the NRA’s former advertising agency grilled the group’s embattled top executive, LaPierre, who acknowledged putting the NRA into Chapter 11 bankruptcy without the knowledge or assent of most of its board and other top officers. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Rifle Association has dropped a lawsuit accusing New York’s attorney general of suing the gun rights group last year out of political hostility, opting to challenge her through counterclaims in the same court where her case is playing out.

NRA lawyers filed court papers Friday voluntarily dismissing their lawsuit against state Attorney General Letitia James in federal court in Albany.

The NRA’s law firm said in a statement that dropping the lawsuit was a “significant and important” procedural step that will ensure the organization’s claims against James are heard in the same state court in Manhattan that will hear her lawsuit.

“Today’s move will ensure that the NRA’s claims proceed promptly to discovery and a full vindication of its members’ rights,” NRA lawyer William Brewer said.

James sued the NRA in August 2020, seeking to put it out of business over allegations executives diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.

NRA chief Wayne LaPierre and three others who’ve worked for the organization were also named as defendants in the case, filed in New York state court.

The NRA responded by suing James in federal court, alleging her actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.”

In January, the NRA declared bankruptcy and sought to move its state of incorporation from New York to Texas, but a judge blocked the move last month, saying the NRA’s bankruptcy was not filed in good faith. In the process, the NRA had made clear it sought to escape regulatory oversight in New York.

The NRA filed a response and counterclaims to James’ lawsuit in state court in February, calling the litigation “a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech.”

James, whose lawsuit is continuing, said in a statement Friday that the NRA’s decision to end its suit against her “is an implicit admission that their strategy would never prevail.”

“The truth is that Wayne LaPierre and his lieutenants used the NRA as a breeding ground for personal gain and a lavish lifestyle,” James said. “We were victorious against the organization’s attempt to declare bankruptcy, and our fight for transparency and accountability will continue because no one is above the law.”


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