After NY state AG files anti-fraud lawsuit against the NRA, conservatives call the move “political” -- and some urge retaliation against liberal groups

Years of reports of financial fraud at the NRA are finally catching up to the organization

After New York Attorney General Letitia James initiated a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association that asks a court to dissolve the group, some right-wing media figures called her “partisan” and dismissed the move as “trying to score political points” in an election year. Others called for GOP attorneys general to retaliate against liberal groups in kind.

New York attorney general alleges the National Rifle Association engaged in years of financial mismanagement and fraud

New York attorney general filed suit to “dissolve” the NRA following an 18-month investigation into “fraud and abuse.” New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on August 6 that looks to “dissolve the NRA in its entirety” and calls on organization leaders, including Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, to “pay back unlawful profits.” According to the 169-page lawsuit, LaPierre “spent millions of dollars of the NRA’s charitable assets for private plane trips for himself and his family.” He also “repeatedly directed private aircraft to make additional stops” to pick up or drop off family members, “expensed over a hundred thousand dollars” on golf club membership fees, and attempted to purchase a $6.5 million mansion in Dallas, all allegedly funded by NRA donations. The lawsuit describes how the mismanagement went beyond LaPierre, alleging, “Directors or members in control of the NRA have looted or wasted the corporate assets, have perpetuated the corporation solely for their personal benefit, or have otherwise acted in an illegal, oppressive or fraudulent manner.” [NPR, 8/6/20; People of the State of New York v. The National Rifle Association of America, 8/6/20]   

NBC’s Tom Winter: LaPierre and other NRA officials “have used this as a personal piggy bank, according to the attorney general.” During the August 6 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Live, NBC national security and justice correspondent Tom Winter explained that the complaint has “nothing to do with the NRA’s lobbying efforts.” Winter went on to describe how nonprofit organizations have to file expenses and operate in accordance with certain laws, and that the lawsuit alleges the NRA “failed their fiduciary responsibilities here, according to the attorney general, … and as a result, this organization cannot be run as a nonprofit organization anymore and it has to be dissolved.” [MSNBC, MSNBC Live, 8/6/20]

Some in right-wing media rushed to dismiss the lawsuit as a political move in an election year

Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer calls James “one of the most partisan figures” who made “one of the dumbest, biggest mistakes” she can make in an election year. During the August 6 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, guest Ari Fleischer called James “one of the most partisan figures” who ran for attorney general “on an anti-Trump platform, an anti-Republican/conservative platform,” before calling the lawsuit “one of the dumbest, biggest mistakes” she could have made in an election year. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/6/20]   

Fox News host Laura Ingraham: James is “a complete and utter goofball socialist” who will “still have her security detail, I assume. The rest of you, you’re on your own.”

The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro: “This sounds…somewhat political.”

The Daily Caller: James is “trying to score political points.”

Newsbusters’ Tim Graham: “NY AG James sounds exactly like the NY Daily News with that NRA-is-a-terrorist-organization slime.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity: “It’s obvious this is political, we’re 89 days out of a presidential election. The timing to me, my read, is intentional.” During the August 6 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered Overtime, Hannity called the timing of the charge “political” and “intentional.” Hannity went on to say he doesn’t “know anything about [the NRA’s] finances, but the timing of this stinks to high heaven to me and reeks of a political agenda.” [Fox News, Outnumbered Overtime, 8/6/20]

Rush Limbaugh: “Gun sales are a record high right now ... here comes Letitia James.” During the August 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh played a clip of James announcing the lawsuit before saying “gun sales are a record high right now, and it makes perfectly understandable sense with all of the rioting and the lawlessness and the Democrats talking about defunding the police, here comes Letitia James and now a lawsuit against the NRA in New York state.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/6/20]

Fox News correspondent: “Not a coincidence that the lawsuit was filed today, just a few months before the election.” During the August 6 edition of Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum, correspondent David Spunt reported on the lawsuit, and said it was “a major political fight after this was announced today, especially just under three months away from a presidential election.” Spunt went on to say that it is “not a coincidence that this lawsuit was filed today, just a few months before the election. Incredibly political.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/6/20]

Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “If you wanted to short circuit Republicans in November’s election, you’d go after the NRA.” During the August 6 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson said it’s “hard to overstate how third world this lawsuit is” and compared James to Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. He went on to say the NRA will now have to spend its money pegged for “helping Republicans” in the 2020 election cycle on legal fees and called the lawsuit a way to “short circuit Republicans” this November. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/6/20]

Sean Hannity: This is a “bizarre, 170 paged, oddly timed” lawsuit. Fox News host Sean Hannity introduced the lawsuit as “bizarre” and “oddly timed” during the August 6 edition of Fox News’ Hannity. He questioned why James would file a lawsuit now when the city is also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and rising crime and called it a “political attack.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/6/20]

Fox’s Laura Ingraham: The lawsuit is “political hit job and a warning shot to others who dare question the leftist authority.” During an interview with Rudy Giuliani, Ingraham called the lawsuit a “political hit job” and an attempt to “crush an influential conservative organization in an election year.” Giuliani agreed, calling James “a poor excuse for a lawyer” and the lawsuit “silly.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/6/20]

Several conservative media figures suggested Republican attorneys general go after liberal groups in retaliation

Stephen Miller: “Planned Parenthood, you’re on the clock.”

One America News Networks’ Liz Wheeler: “Imagine going after the NRA but refusing to touch the Clinton Foundation.”

Conservative podcast host Derek Hunter suggested New York could now dissolve the Clinton Foundation.

TheBlaze’s Leon Wolf suggested Republican attorneys general can now dissolve Planned Parenthood.

Update (8/7/20, 12:30 p.m.): The piece has been updated with additional examples.