The National Rifle Association, or the NRA, has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to court documents filed Friday in the Northern District of Texas. The organization plans to reincorporate in Texas, as New York’s attorney general pursues a fraud case against the nation’s leading gun lobby group, NPR reported.
The NRA has presented itself as a defender of Second Amendment rights since it was founded in New York State in 1871. It said the move to Texas was due to a “corrupt political and regulatory environment,” in New York, NPR reported.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit in August to dissolve the National Rifle Association. James told NPR during a radio interview that “top NRA executives engaged in fraud over decades, raiding the organization's bank accounts for personal gain.”
James alleged that current and former NRA leadership "instituted a culture of self-dealing mismanagement" that benefitted themselves, family, friends and favored vendors, leading the organization to lose more than $63 million in three years, CNN reported.
James accused the NRA’s CEO and Chief Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, and other NRA senior leadership of violating laws governing nonprofit groups and using millions of dollars from the organization's reserves for personal use and tax fraud that included luxury vacations, private jets and more. James called for the funds to be returned and the executives prohibited from serving on any not-for-profit in New York, The New York Times reported.
The NRA described the lawsuit filed as a “political move,” reported NPR. And, in response, the NRA filed a countersuit that alleged the attorney general was hampering the group's First Amendment rights, CNN reported.
In a statement on Friday, LaPierre called it a “transformational moment in the history of the NRA." “Obviously, an important part of this plan is ‘dumping New York,’” he added. “This strategic plan represents a pathway to opportunity, growth and progress. The NRA is pursuing reincorporating in a state the values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and will join us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom,” The New York Times reported.
Since 2019, James has been conducting an investigation into alleged corruption at the gun group, the current headquarters of which is located in Fairfax, Virginia, reported The New York Times.
On Jan. 15, James posted on Twitter that she is committed to ensuring that the NRA are held accountable for their alleged actions. "The NRA's claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt," said James. "While we review its bankruptcy filing, we will not allow @NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office's oversight.”
The NRA said Friday it is in its "strongest financial condition in years," but the restructuring will help to "streamline costs and expenses," CNN reported.
According to NPR, the NRA has had legal troubles that have cost the organization $100 million according to a January 2020 recording of the group’s board meeting obtained by NPR. The NRA's 2019 990 tax return, which was obtained by CNN in November, shows the NRA operated at a $12.2 million deficit.