The National Rifle Association is fighting back against a lawsuit filed Thursday by New York’s attorney general by submitting its own civil suit against the state official, accusing her of defamation and violating its rights to free speech.
The NRA’s lawsuit was filed in the federal court of New York and alleges Attorney General Letitia James “made the political prosecution of the NRA a central campaign theme” when she was running for the AG’s office in 2018, and has not treated the association fairly since.
“Despite hopes that playing by the rules would procure a just outcome, the NRA has not been treated fairly by James’s office,” the suit states. “The New York Democratic Party political machine seeks to harass, defund, and dismantle the NRA because of what it believes and what it says.”
The defamation allegations stem from James’ public descriptions of the NRA as a “criminal enterprise” and “a terrorist organization.”
“The investigations by both the D.C. and New York Attorney Generals have been going on for quite some time, so it’s no surprise that they’ve filed these lawsuits,” said Relford. “But I wasn’t surprised by the lawsuits nor the timing of them because the purpose is to use this attack on the NRA to taint Donald Trump and Republicans ahead of the November election.”
The 166-page lawsuit names four NRA executives, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, as defendants.
“Contrary to his statutory duties of care, loyalty and obedience to the mission of the charity, LaPierre has undertaken a series of actions to consolidate his position; to exploit that position for his personal benefit and that of his family; to continue, by use of a secret “poison pill contract,” his employment even after removal and ensuring NRA income for life; and to intimidate, punish, and expel anyone at a senior level who raised concerns about his conduct,” the attorney general’s lawsuit states.
Relford acknowledged that the NRA was due for a change in leadership.
“Part of the reason is not only their failure to stay with the true direction of what the NRA should be, but also some questionable spending activities by Wayne Lapierre and other members of his inner circle at the NRA,” said Relford.
“I think where this is going to turn is in what the evidence has to say,” he continued. “If there are no smoking guns in all of this evidence, then it could get pretty ugly pretty quick. But again, this is not new information and we’ve been expecting something like this for quite some time.”
Relford acknowledged that if the investigation in New York reveals improper spending, it could, in fact, lead to a dismantling of the NRA.
“If you don’t operate as a non-profit when you’re a 501c3, that jeopardizes your status as a non-profit organization,” explained Relford. “It’s more likely that they would lose their non-profit status than be completely dissolved. But this certainly has the potential for impact from a non-profit standpoint.”
Relford told Hammer and Nigel he expects NRA President Wayne Lapierre to step down.
“I think all of us want to see him step aside and have more effective leadership at the NRA.”
Click below to hear Hammer and Nigel’s full interview with Guy Relford.