By Sonia Moghe, CNN
In a legal win for the National Rifle Association, a New York State Supreme Court justice has blocked the state attorney general’s attempt to dissolve the organization but has allowed her suit against it to move forward.
New York Supreme Court Justice Joel M. Cohen said the attorney general’s suit paints a “grim” picture of “greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight” at the highest levels of the NRA. But, Cohen writes in his opinion, the attorney general also describes the NRA as a victim of its executives’ schemes to siphon millions of dollars away from the organization’s legitimate operations.
Cohen said that, if that’s proven, New York Attorney General Letitia James‘ office can address harm done to the NRA and its members and donors with “targeted, less intrusive” relief. He denied the attorney general’s claim to dissolve the NRA, stating in part that James’ office had failed to prove that the alleged mismanagement of the organization’s funds has created public harm.
“The Complaint does not allege that any financial misconduct benefited the NRA, or that the NRA exists primarily to carry out such activity, or that the NRA is incapable of continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members,” Cohen wrote. “In short, the Complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the ‘corporate death penalty.’ “
He also said dissolving the NRA could impact the free speech rights of its members.
NRA President Charles Cotton called the decision a “resounding win” for the organization and its 5 million members in a news release.
In a statement, James said the decision affirmed her office’s right to pursue its claims that “fraud, abuse, and greed permeate through the NRA and its senior leadership.”
“While we’re heartened that the judge rejected the NRA’s attempts to thwart most of the claims in our case against the NRA, we are disappointed that the judge ruled against the dissolution portion of the case,” James said in a statement. “We are considering our legal options with respect to this ruling. We remain committed to enforcing New York law regardless of how powerful any individual or organization may be.”
William A. Brewer III, an attorney for the NRA, said in a news release that his firm looks forward to continuing to defend the organization and proving that it acts in the best interest of its members and their belief in Second Amendment freedoms.
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