21:03 GMT14 April 2021
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    The lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA) has all the earmarks of political persecution ahead of the 2020 elections, US observers say, explaining how the New York attorney general is using the entity's financial mismanagement issue to shut it down.

    Last Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA), seeking to dissolve the largest and most influential pro-gun organisation in the US.

    The suit charges the NRA as a whole, as well as its leadership with failing to manage the entity's funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws. "The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organisation went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets", Attorney General James said in an official statement. "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".

    NRA 'Mired in Financial Mismanagement'

    NRA President Carolyn Meadows denounced the New York attorney general's move as "a baseless, premeditated attack" on the organisation and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

    "You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle", argued Meadows. "It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda".

    However, the New York attorney general answered back that the inquiry kicked off in 2019 and had nothing to do with any sort of political persecution.

    While admitting that NYAG James and the Democratic Party "do have a basic animosity toward Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights", Mark Dankof, a radio broadcaster and patron member of the NRA, raises the question about allegations of financial mismanagement on the part of the NRA leadership which emerged after ex-NRA President Colonel Oliver North resigned last year.

    On 25 April 2019, Oliver North, abruptly left the entity's annual convention and then announced that he would not seek another term. According to the New York Post, North and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre had an argument over the organisation's relationship with Ackerman McQueen, potential conflict of interest, and wasteful spending.

    As a National Review editorial put it on 6 August 2020, "the NRA, once the most effective organisation of its kind, has indeed been mired in incompetent leadership and financial mismanagement for years".

    "If Colonel North is correct, it is ironic that a leftist New York State Attorney General’s legal case may be the basis of getting to the truth. Time will tell", Dankof notes.

    Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRA
    © AFP 2021 / Saul Loeb
    Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRA

    A Plainly Partisan Attack

    While acknowledging that not everything is rosy in the NRA's garden the National Review editorial still insists that the NYAG's lawsuit is nothing short of "a plainly partisan political attack" launched full-throttle just three months before Election Day in an apparent bid to "embarrass and hobble a political opponent" and "burden [the NRA] with expensive and cumbrous litigation".

    The media outlet's editors have drawn attention to the fact that instead of charging Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and others executives with specific crimes, for instance, an alleged siphoning of NRA monies for their personal use, NYAG James is striving to dissolve the entity altogether.

    A year ago, Jim Geraghty, National Review’s senior political correspondent, predicted in a New York Post op-ed that "James will make the investigation as extensive, thorough, and expensive as possible, right around the time the organisation would like to be gearing up for a tough fight in the 2020 election". Geraghty added that NYAG James "might be the worst possible figure to investigate the NRA" given both her record of being a gun control advocate and earlier branding the NRA as a "terrorist organisation" and "criminal enterprise".

    The NRA defence team has already taken an opportunity to file a civil lawsuit in federal court against the New York attorney general for defamation and abuse of free speech rights. The suit recollects that James "made the political prosecution of the NRA a central campaign theme" when she was running for the New York attorney general's office in 2018.

    "James boasted that she would strike foul blows against the NRA and pound the NRA into submission", the NRA lawsuit highlights, as quoted by Fox News. "She vowed that she would use the NYAG’s investigative and enforcement powers for the precise purpose of stanching political speech".

    Dems Have Been After NRA for Quite a While

    According to the National Review, the New York state authorities' attack against the NRA is part of a broader "nationwide Democratic campaign" against the gun rights advocacy group:

    ·         in September 2019 the Dem-controlled city of San Francisco declared the NRA a "domestic terrorist organisation" that "promotes extremist positions";

    ·         in April 2019, Los Angeles, yet another Democratic stronghold, implemented an ordinance obligating contractors seeking to do business with the city to disclose their ties to the NRA;

    ·         in April 2018, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the state's Department of Financial Services to encourage insurance companies, banks, and other financial services firms licensed in New York state to discontinue their arrangements with the NRA over "reputational risk".

    The political agenda here is obvious, says Pamela Geller, American author, columnist and publisher of The Geller Report.

    "These suits are being filed because the NRA is a conservative organisation that supports the Second Amendment and understands that an armed citizenry is the best safeguard against tyranny", she underscores. "They want to destroy the NRA so that they can more easily destroy the Second Amendment, confiscate Americans' guns, and impose their authoritarian leftist agenda without fear of armed uprisings against their tyranny".

    The attack on the NRA is likely to deepen the already existing rift between Democrats and Republicans in the US, deems Mark Dankof.

    "In the meantime, the 2020 elections will prove to be a watershed moment between Left and Right in the United States on the 2nd Amendment, law enforcement, criminal sentencing, and the use of the American military in state and local law enforcement situations", he says. "January of 2021 may look much different from August of 2020".

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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