New York state’s attorney general announced a lawsuit to sue the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday, alleging that high-ranking executives diverted millions of dollars for personal use, which included luxuries such as multiple trips to the Bahamas.
Letitia James alleges top leaders of the gun advocacy group and its head Wayne LaPierre diverted millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.
The suit said LaPierre, 70, spent millions of the NRA’s dollars on travel consultants, including luxury black car services, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on private jet flights for himself and his family, including more than $500,000 on eight trips to the Bahamas over a three-year span.
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organisation went unchecked for decades while top executives funnelled millions into their own pockets,” James said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organisation is above the law.”
James, a Democrat, said the issues came to light after the NRA's deficit piled up and it struggled after it lost support for its pro-gun agenda after a series of mass shootings.
NRA President Carolyn Meadows said on Thursday the organisation was counter-suing the New York attorney general’s office.
“It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda,′ Meadows said in a statement.
At the same time, the Washington, DC, attorney general sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the group, accusing it of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by its top executives.
Some of the NRA’s excess spending was kept secret, the lawsuit said, under an arrangement with the organisation’s former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen.
The lawsuit said funnelling worked through the advertising company, which would pick up the tab for various expenses for LaPierre and other NRA executives and then send a lump sum bill to the organisation for “out-of-pocket expenses.”
The lawsuit comes at a time when the NRA is trying to remain relevant and a force in the 2020 presidential election as it seeks to help President Donald Trump secure a second term.