A judge rejected an effort by New York’s attorney general to put the National Rifle Association out of business, but will allow her lawsuit accusing top executives of illegally diverting tens of millions of dollars from the powerful gun advocacy organization to proceed, the Associated Press reports. Manhattan Judge Joel Cohen said allegations of NRA officials' misspending on personal trips, no-show contracts and other questionable expenditures can be addressed by other remedies, such as fines and restitution, and do not warrant the “corporate death penalty” that Attorney General Letitia James sought. James’ lawsuit, filed in August 2020, tells “a grim story of greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight” at the NRA’s highest levels, but it does not allege that financial misconduct benefited the organization or harmed the public, or that the NRA is incapable of “continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members,” Cohen wrote.
The judge raised concerns that shutting down the NRA could impinge the free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members. Nevertheless, he said, James’ lawsuit can continue against the NRA, its longtime leader Wayne LaPierre, and three men who have served as NRA executives. LaPierre, who has been in charge of the NRA’s day-to-day operations since 1991, is accused in the lawsuit of spending millions on private travel and personal security and accepting expensive gifts — such as African safaris and use of a 107-foot yacht — from vendors. He is also accused of setting himself up with a $17 million contract with the NRA if he were to exit the organization, spending NRA money on travel consultants, luxury car services, and private jet flights for himself and his family — including more than $500,000 on eight trips to the Bahamas over a three-year span.