A New York corruption trial against the National Rifle Association is set to get underway Monday, just days after the group's longtime leader announced he will resign at the end of the month.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre resigned Friday, just days before the state's attorney general was set to take him to court to push for his ouster. LaPierre cited his health as a reason for leaving, saying "my passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever."
New York Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit against the NRA accuses LaPierre and other top executives of diverting tens of millions of dollars to fund extravagant personal expenses not related to the business. James says her team found the NRA misused more than $64 million from donors, including for private jet flights to the Bahamas, yacht trips, African safaris, clothing and other questionable expenses.
The case — first introduced in 2020 — includes LaPierre; NRA general counsel John Frazer; former finance chief Wilson Phillips; and the former second-in-command Joshua Powell. The NRA tried to get the case thrown out last month, saying it was an attempt to silence a political perspective that James disagrees with, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
James says she's using her regulatory authority over nonprofits to bring the suit after reports of corruption and mismanagement within the organization. In a statement Friday, she said LaPierre's resignation "will not insulate him or the NRA from accountability" and the case would move ahead as planned.
The NRA referenced the lawsuit in the resignation announcement for LaPierre.
"The NRA Board of Directors reports it has undertaken significant efforts to perform a self-evaluation, recommended termination of disgraced 'insiders' and vendors who allegedly abused the Association, and accepted reimbursement, with interest, for alleged excess benefit transactions from LaPierre, as reported in public tax filings," the organization stated.
The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks. None of the men named in the suit are facing prison time but should the NRA lose, the case could make its way to the Supreme Court.
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