A New York judge on Friday rejected the National Rifle Associations’ claims that New York Attorney General Letitia James was illegally gunning for them with her investigation into the organization.
The pro-gun rights group had filed a counterclaim against the AG, accusing her of targeting it for political reasons as part of a “witch hunt” that goes back as far as when she was running for office.
But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen shot down those allegations, finding that James’ office had sufficient grounds to launch its probe.
“The investigation followed reports of serious misconduct and it uncovered additional evidence that, at a bare minimum, undermines any suggestion that was a mere pretext to penalize the NRA for its constitutionally protected activities,” Cohen’s decision says.
“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,” the ruling reads.
James filed suit in 2020 seeking to disband the NRA, claiming its leadership flouted nonprofit rules by diverting millions of agency dollars to fund lavish lifestyles, including trips to the Bahamas, safaris in Africa, and jaunts on yachts.
In March, Cohen dismissed a part of the AG’s suit that sought to break up the NRA, finding instead there are ways to reform the organization – including by potentially removing top executives.
“Today, the court reaffirmed the legitimacy and viability of my office’s lawsuit against the NRA for its years of fraud, abuse, and greed,” AG James said in a statement.
NRA lawyer William Brewer said they are “disappointed” with the ruling and maintained that James has a political animus toward the NRA.
“Naturally, we are disappointed in the opinion. However, we understand the court’s decision that certain counterclaims were rendered moot by the NRA’s recent victory against the NYAG – when the court struck down her efforts to dissolve the Association,” Brewer said in a statement. “And, as the record reflects, the NRA is committed to good governance and is transparent about its efforts in that regard.”