A Texas trial to determine whether the National Rifle Association should be allowed to seek bankruptcy kicked off Monday — with New York prosecutors slamming the financial move as a “masterclass in bad faith,”
The gun-rights group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January as it was waging a bitter legal battle with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office — which sued to break up the NRA over claims that top execs were misusing funds to fund live lavish lifestyles replete with exotic trips, private jet flights and expensive meals.
But the AG’s office doesn’t buy that the organization is financially struggling, Assistant AG Monica Connell said during opening statements held by video in Texas federal Bankruptcy court Monday.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s announcement that he was moving the group from New York to Texas and filing for bankruptcy protection, is a “masterclass in bad faith and dishonest conduct,” Connell said according to a report by Law & Crime.
At the time of the bankruptcy filing, the pro-gun organization claimed on its website that it was “in its strongest financial condition in years.”
“By the NRA’s own words, it is not only solvent but financially strong,” Connell said, according to the report.
The NRA brought the case in Texas on the grounds that one of its companies, Sea Girt, LLC, was based there. But James claims that is just a shell company that the NRA opened up three months prior so it could make the legal maneuver there, the outlet reported.
NRA lawyer Greg Garman countered that the AG’s suit was politically motivated — a claim echoed in the NRAs August countersuit against James — and that she was gunning for the group on her campaign trail when she referred to it as a “terrorist organization,” Law & Crime reported.
Garman also defended LaPierre’s private flights as essential for his safety, according to the news site.
The AG’s office was joined by former public relations firm Ackerman McQueen in its motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case.
Ackerman lawyer Brian Mason said that the NRA was attempting to “game” the bankruptcy process, adding that its one-time former client had changed and is now fraught with “fraud, dishonestly, misconduct and gross mismanagement,” Law & Crime reported.
“We look forward to making our case in court, and finally shining a light on the NRA’s actions. No organization, including the NRA, should be able to avoid accountability simply by declaring bankruptcy,” James’ said in a statement ahead of opening remarks Monday morning.
The AG’s suit from August accused LaPierre and other NRA honchos of flouting non-profit laws and siphoning NRA funds for personal use.
Connell on Monday alleged to the judge that donor funds even went to LaPierre’s wife’s “glam squad,” according to the report.
The trial is expected to last for six days, according to the Wall Street Journal.