A coalition of 16 Republican attorneys general is backing the National Rifle Association (NRA) in its legal challenge against New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).
The coalition led by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York backing the NRA as it fights off James’s attempt to dissolve it.
The brief was also signed by the attorneys general of Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
James sued the gun rights group in August in a New York state court, seeking to dissolve the NRA after an 18-month fraud investigation finding that the organization and some its top officials diverted millions away from its charitable mission. The violations resulted in the NRA losing more than $64 million over three years.
The NRA subsequently sued James in federal court, accusing her of punishing the group for its advocacy, in violation of the First Amendment.
The brief from the attorneys general argues that James is trying to dissolve the group for political reasons and that her effort violates the First Amendment because it is an attempt to punish the group for its advocacy.
While the attorneys general agree that state regulations of nonprofits are important, they argues that the regulations should not be used to attack political opponents.
Rutledge said in a statement that New York’s lawsuit is “a political stunt by a liberal attorney general who promised in her campaign to go after the NRA.”
“Even if it makes me unpopular in places like New York, I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms,” she added.
In a statement to The Hill, James said the NRA “went unchecked for years while executives funneled millions into their own pockets to fund lavish lifestyles filled with private jets, pricey vacations, expensive meals, and no-show contracts.”
“The NRA has been a breeding ground of fraud, abuse, and brazen illegality,” she said. “Simply put, the rot runs deep, which is why our lawsuit to dissolve the organization will continue undeterred.”
The NRA has been rocked by scandal this year after it was revealed that some of its executives used its money for personal benefit. Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine (D) also sued the group’s foundation for misuse of funds.