New York’s attorney general has announced a lawsuit aimed at dissolving the powerful National Rifle Association over alleged financial mismanagement.
Letitia James said the NRA had diverted millions of dollars to leaders including its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, for their personal use.
“For these years of misconduct we are seeking an order to dissolve the NRA in its entirety,” she said.
The NRA described the lawsuit as a “baseless, premeditated attack”.
Ms James said that the four named defendants – Mr LaPierre, Wilson Phillips, Joshua Powell and John Frazer – “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive and fraudulent”.
The attorney general outlined a litany of charges against the defendants, but accused Mr LaPierre, long the face of the powerful gun lobby group, of being the “central figure” behind the organisation’s wrongdoings.
One example of misconduct alleged in the lawsuit states that Mr LaPierre visited the Bahamas more than eight times by private plane using funds intended for the NRA, for a total cost of $500,000 (£380,225).
The corruption “is so broad”, Ms James said, that total dissolution of the organisation is necessary.
Responding to questions, Ms James, a Democrat, rejected the notion that the charges against the NRA – closely tied to the Republican party – were at all influenced by her own politics.
“We followed the facts and the law,” she said. “We’ve come to the conclusion that the NRA unfortunately was serving as a personal piggy bank to four individual defendants.”
The case filed by Ms James’ office alleges more than $64m (£48.7m) was lost in just three years as a result of the defendants’ abuse.
Also on Thursday, the District Attorney for Washington, DC filed a separate lawsuit against the organisation “for misusing charitable funds to support wasteful spending by the NRA and its executives”.
The New York lawsuit will almost certainly be contested in court by the NRA. The suit will add another strain to an already beleaguered organisation, facing congressional inquiries, investigations in multiple states and internal complaints.