Under the cloud of a lawsuit from state Attorney General Letitia James, the NRA is relocating to Texas from New York, where it has been incorporated as a not-for-profit, charitable membership organization since 1871.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the right-wing gun advocacy group, called the relocation necessary for the group to be “free from the toxic political environment of New York” in a letter posted on its website.
“We are leaving the state of an attorney general who, just a few months ago, vowed to put us out of business through an abuse of legal and regulatory power,” LaPierre said in the letter.
Because the NRA was incorporated in New York, it’s overseen by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, which has been investigating the pro-gun rights organization for over a year.
In August, James filed the lawsuit in state Supreme Court against the organization and its leadership to dismantle the NRA, saying the group’s leadership diverted “millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.”
According to the lawsuit, LaPierre expensed more than $100,000 for his golf club membership, hundreds of thousands of dollars for a trip to Africa, and $65,000 for Christmas gifts for his staff.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” James said in a statement Friday. “While we review this filing, we will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.”
The move to gun-friendly Texas will not change the status of James’s lawsuit against the NRA, who also countersued James in federal court on First Amendment grounds, accusing her of “weaponizing her regulatory and legal power under the guise of protecting state residents,” according to Bloomberg News.
Separate from their relocation, the NRA also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week in federal court in Dallas, which LaPierre dismissed as a way to “streamline,” and not a sign of fiscal trouble.
“As you may know, chapter 11 proceedings are often utilized by businesses, nonprofits and organizations of all kinds to streamline legal and financial affairs,” he said in a letter posted on the group’s website, and added, “You know that our opponents will try to seize upon this news and distort the truth. Don’t believe what you read from our enemies. The NRA is not ‘bankrupt’ or ‘going out of business.’ The NRA is not insolvent. We are as financially strong as we have been in years.”
Last year the Washington Post reported that the organization was over $10 million in debt.
In a Q&A posted on their website, the NRA said the move was not an admission that it mismanaged donor funds.
“Not at all,” read the response. “We have utilized all donor contributions in furtherance of the NRA’s mission. This action is necessitated primarily by one thing: the unhinged and political attack against the NRA by the New York Attorney General.”
NRA may be moving to Texas.
From their letter:
“Texas values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and joins us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom.”
Welcome to Texas—a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment https://t.co/CCoP5DmGMI
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 15, 2021
While the NRA was incorporated in New York, its physical headquarters are in Fairfax, Virginia outside of Washington, D.C., LaPierre said the group is also mulling a relocation to another state, saying a special committee will “determine if there are advantages to relocating our HQ operations to another state.”
LaPierre’s strategy was criticized for evading New York’s laws by one anti-violence advocacy group.
“The NRA is running from New York due to their own fraud, self-dealing, and financial failure,” said Rebecca Fischer, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, in a statement. “For years, the NRA has spewed extremist, racist lies to manipulate the public and sell more guns while illegally influencing politicians and making the gun industry richer. Their alleged ‘strategic plan’ to flee New York and our strong, sensible laws is only further proof of their legal culpability.”