NEW YORK — The New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the National Rifle Association is no mere “witch hunt,” a New York judge ruled Friday in dismissing the gun rights advocacy group’s claims that the case is a political vendetta.
Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen’s decision means the nearly 2-year-long legal fight can continue.
It began when James, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit that accused some top NRA executives of financial improprieties and sought to dissolve the group. The attorney general’s job includes oversight of nonprofit organizations incorporated in New York, where the NRA was chartered in 1871.
In March, Cohen rebuffed James’ bid to shutter the NRA. But the judge let the case go on, with the potential for fines or other remedies if the attorney general prevails.
The NRA accused James in a court filing last year of waging “a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign” because of its views. The group sought to halt the lawsuit.
Cohen rejected those arguments.
“The narrative that the attorney general’s investigation into these undeniably serious matters was nothing more than a politically motivated – and unconstitutional – witch hunt is simply not supported by the record,” he wrote, noting that the probe was sparked by reports of misconduct and “uncovered additional evidence.”
James applauded the decision, saying it confirms the suit’s “legitimacy and viability.”
“Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue,” she said in a statement.
NRA lawyer William A. Brewer III said the group was disappointed but would keep fighting the case and still believes it was unfairly targeted.
“The NRA believes the NYAG’s pursuit was fueled by her opposition to the association and its First Amendment activities in support of the Second Amendment,” he said in a statement, using an abbreviation for the attorney general’s title.
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