Pro-gun lobby boss Wayne LaPierre accused by New York State of financial fraud - Kristoffer Tripplaar / Sipa USA / SI
New York State announced Thursday that it is filing a financial fraud complaint against the pro-gun lobby NRA and its influential boss, Wayne LaPierre. According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, he and three other senior lobby officials had used members' contributions and donations for years as "their own piggy bank," spending tens of millions of dollars in violation of laws governing organizations. non-profit.
The four leaders “basically looted the assets” of the group, Letitia James said, so much so that this lobby which has injected millions of dollars into Republican election campaigns over the years, including that of Donald Trump in 2016, is now virtually insolvent. The prosecutor does not hide it: her objective is to "dissolve" this organization.
Attack on democracy, according to NRA
In a statement, the NRA accused the prosecutor of wanting to "score points politically" three months before the US presidential election. She said that legal action had been initiated to oppose the complaint.
" We are ready to fight. We are waiting for you, ”responded Wayne LaPierre in a statement sent to AFP. “The NRA is well managed, financially solvent, and committed to maintaining good governance,” he added, calling the complaint “an attack on democracy and freedom”.
This is "a groundless, premeditated attack on our organization and the freedoms guaranteed by the Second Amendment that it fights to defend," said lobby chair Carolyn Meadows, referring to the amendment to the US Constitution, which many Americans interpret guarantees the right to own and carry firearms.
Millions of dollars injected into the presidential election
For decades, the lobby has defended the views of millions of gun owners in the United States, fiercely opposing any regulation of the gun market. Its influence is considerable and the organization does not skimp on the means to support candidates defending the same positions in elections, both at local and national level.
Millions of dollars are expected to be injected again by the NRA for the presidential, legislative and senatorial elections on November 3. President Donald Trump's sons, Eric and Donald Jr, are members of the organization and regularly participate in its events.
Wayne LaPierre has led the NRA for nearly three decades as executive vice president.
According to the New York prosecutor, the leader among other things illegally used NRA funds to regularly take his family to the Bahamas for luxury vacations. He also, Letitia James said, accepted expensive gifts and travel from lobby suppliers, and gave himself $ 17 million for his retirement without the agreement of the organization's board of directors.
According to the complaint, many of the charges against Wayne LaPierre were made possible by the other three defendants, who allegedly helped cover up the various payments and whom he himself recruited: former treasurer Wilson Phillips, legal director John Frazer and ex-HR manager Joshua Powell.
No political motivation
"The influence of the NRA is such that the organization has evaded scrutiny for decades, as its senior leaders put millions of dollars in their pockets," said the New York attorney general. "The NRA is full of fraud and abuse and that is why we are now seeking to dissolve it, because no organization is above the law," she added.
She denied any political motivation, but conceded that the state had forced the dissolution of only two other lobbying organizations in recent years, one of which was the Trump Foundation.
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