Judge dismisses NRA bankruptcy case in blow to gun group POLITICO

Conference in Orlando

Conference in Orlando

The National Rifle Association can not use bankruptcy to reorganize in gun-friendly Texas, a federal judge in Dallas ruled on Tuesday, handing a defeat to the influential firearms rights group that is facing an effort to dissolve it in NY state.

In an August statement, the president of the NRA called the lawsuit a "baseless" attack on the organization and the Second Amendment. The Associated Press quoted Judge Hale saying, "The Court believes the NRA's objective in filing bankruptcy is less like a traditional bankruptcy case in which a debtor is faced with financial difficulties or a judgment that it can not satisfy and more like cases in which courts have found bankruptcy was filed to gain an unfair advantage in litigation or to avoid a regulatory scheme".

Tuesday's hearing focused on whether the group should be allowed to establish itself legally in Texas instead of NY, where it faces the lawsuit.

James welcomed Hale's decision.

"The Court finds that the NRA did not file the bankruptcy petition in good faith because this filing was not for a objective intended or sanctioned by the Bankruptcy Code".

James and the NRA's former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen have said the bankruptcy was filed in bad faith and to escape New York's oversight, with a lawyer for James during closing arguments of the trial calling the bankruptcy a "circus sideshow".

The NRA has called New York's lawsuit politically motivated. "No one is above the law, not even one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country".

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Hale's dismissal is without prejudice, meaning the NRA can try again to file for bankruptcy, but the judge said the problems identified in its operations could result in the appointment of a trustee to oversee its affairs.

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NRA is not above the law. "The ruling just clears up that fact that that litigation is going to continue and that there isn't this remedy that entailed a third-party effectively running the organization in the meantime".

The virtual trial in a North Texas bankruptcy court included testimony from top current and former NRA officials, including Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre, who testified on April 7 that he had kept news of the impending bankruptcy filing from the NRA's own general counsel, chief financial officer and other salaried NRA officials. Lawyers for NY and the NRA's former advertising agency grilled the group's embattled top executive, Wayne LaPierre, who acknowledged putting the NRA into Chapter 11 bankruptcy without the knowledge or assent of most of its board and other top officers. The Justice Department's bankruptcy watchdog, the U.S. Trustee, urged Hale to dismiss the bankruptcy. "The NRA will keep fighting, as we've done for 150 years". But Pronske countered that financial statements showed the NRA has "plenty of cash on hand".

Five months later, the NRA's top executive, Wayne LaPierre, announced that the right-wing nonprofit would file for bankruptcy and move its headquarters from NY, where it was chartered in 1871, to Texas.

In January, the NRA filed for bankruptcy and as part of its petition sought to be reincorporated in Texas, a move that came five months after James' office filed a suit seeking to dissolve the organization. Her lawsuit said the NRA diverted millions of dollars to fund luxuries for officials including LaPierre and awarded lucrative contracts to associates and relatives of senior officials.

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