The NRA’s legal strategy to avoid dissolution took a heavy blow on Tuesday when their bankruptcy case was thrown out. So, where does the group go from here?
The NRA leadership is putting on a brave face, but their actions suggest they don’t have much confidence in their chances of surviving New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D.) attempt to shut them down. You simply don’t take your group into bankruptcy if you think you have better options.
In court, the NRA argued it needed bankruptcy to protect it from James. The court ruled it filed bankruptcy in bad faith. Add that up, and the math isn’t pretty.
Experts told me this week the group’s options in bankruptcy are basically exhausted. Ironically, they said the bankruptcy ended up shining a light on new details that make the dissolution case easier, including one CFO being fired after refusing to sign onto their tax reports and CEO Wayne LaPierre facing no punishment for diverting $300,000 of the group’s money to his personal expenses. Dissolution for a group the size and scope of the NRA is a hugely difficult task to pull off in court, but the NRA’s strategy to combat it ended up making it more likely to happen. That’s pretty remarkable.
Even still, I don’t think dissolution is the most likely outcome.
Take, for instance, the Teamsters Union. They were literally run by the mob who stole millions of dollars from their pension fund while doing lots of illegal stuff like, you know, killing people. And they didn’t get dissolved. Sure, it’s a different situation in a different jurisdiction, but an organization the size of the NRA that performs hundreds of millions of dollars worth of expenditures on legitimate activism has never been shuttered before. It’s usually smaller groups with little real operations, such as the now-defunct Trump Foundation, that actually get dissolved.
Then you have the added factor of James’s political motivations. Even if you believe NRA redirected NRA money into their own pockets, anyone worried about tyranny should be highly skeptical of a politician using government power to take apart one of their most powerful political opponents. And I think a judge will be concerned
Still, it’s hard to see how the NRA comes out of all this completely intact. The most likely scenario seems to be fines and the removal of leadership. If the board remakes the group’s leadership and reorganizes itself, the NRA may be able to save itself a bit of time and a lot of money in what its own lawyers framed as a losing battle. But there hasn’t been a real appetite to do anything like that so far.
The NRA could still have another trick up its sleeve, but this bankruptcy gambit was exactly as doomed as it seemed from the start. So, if they have another surprise move to play, it will probably be twice as hard to convince people it will work.
Ultimately, things may well come down to the board deciding between continuing to stand behind LaPierre and keeping the organization alive. The majority have stood by LaPierre to this point. Will that continue to hold?