The gun-rights group filed for Chapter 11 protection in the Lone Star State, seeking a new start after it was targeted by New York officials.
DALLAS (CN) — The National Rifle Association filed for bankruptcy protection Friday in Dallas federal bankruptcy court, announcing it will reincorporate in Texas one year after New York state authorities sued to dissolve the NRA for allegedly misappropriating money.
The tax-exempt gun-rights group says it has between 200 and 999 creditors, between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 and $500 million in liabilities, according to the 16-page Chapter 11 filing.
The NRA said it is leaving New York as its state of incorporation for Texas to get away from a “toxic political environment.” It has been based in New York since 1871.
“We are leaving the state of an attorney general who, just a few months ago, vowed to put us out of business through an abuse of legal and regulatory power,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in a statement to members. “In fact, the gross overreach of the New York attorney general and New York governor has been resoundingly criticized by powerful national groups like the ACLU and a host of prominent legal scholars.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, sued the NRA in New York County Supreme Court last August, accusing four executives of looting the nonprofit.
“The central figure behind this scheme was none other than Wayne LaPierre,” James said at the time. “Mr. LaPierre exploited the organization for his and his family’s financial benefit.”
James claims LaPierre used the NRA as his “personal piggy bank” for private jet trips to the tropics and African safaris, all allegedly paid for on the donors’ dime.
“In the last five years, LaPierre and his family have visited the Bahamas by private air charter on at least eight occasions, at a cost of more than $500,000 to the NRA,” the complaint states. “On many of those trips, LaPierre and his family were gifted the use of a 107-foot yacht owned by an NRA vendor.”
The NRA denounced the lawsuit as an election-year stunt, calling it “a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend.”
James said Friday her office will not be deterred by the bankruptcy filing.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” she said in an email message. “While we review this filing, we will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.”
Republican officials in Texas quickly cheered the NRA’s move.
“WELCOME TO THE GREAT STATE OF #TEXAS, @NRA!” tweeted Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Governor Greg Abbott also welcomed the gun-rights group, tweeting Texas is “a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.”
LaPierre touted Friday how Texas is home to over 400,000 NRA members. He added the nonprofit plans to hold its 2021 annual meeting in Houston.
“Texas values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and joins us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom,” LaPierre said. “This is the most transformational moment in the history of the NRA. And it involves all of you.”
The NRA says it has “no immediate plans” to relocate its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, but is forming a special committee to investigate further.