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NRA sues New York officials for hurting ability to operate

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at an event in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn in New York, on Thursday, July 5, 2018. (Seth Wenig / AP)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at an event in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn in New York, on Thursday, July 5, 2018. (Seth Wenig / AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. – The National Rifle Association is suffering grave financial harm that threatens its ability to pursue its advocacy mission because of a blacklisting campaign by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York regulators, the gun rights group said in a federal lawsuit.

In an amended version of a federal lawsuit filed in May, the NRA said it lost insurance coverage after the state’s enforcement actions against companies underwriting an NRA-branded insurance program called Carry Guard. Without liability coverage, the NRA said it can’t maintain its offices, operate educational programs or hold rallies and other political events.

The amended complaint was filed in late July in northern New York federal court. It names the Democratic governor along with the state Department of Financial Services and its superintendent, Maria Vullo, as defendants.

The lawsuit said “back-channel communications” by the Cuomo administration “made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA.” As a result, it said multiple financial institutions have entered into consent orders that compel them to end longstanding business relationships with the NRA in New York and elsewhere.

“The actions of defendants are a blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of our organization,” William A. Brewer III, an attorney representing the NRA, said in a statement Friday.

The lawsuit asks the court to have the Cuomo administration stop its practices against the NRA.

In addition to various communications between Vullo and financial institutions at Cuomo’s direction, the lawsuit referenced an April 20 tweet by Cuomo: “The NRA is an extremist organization. I urge companies in New York state to revisit any ties they have to the NRA and consider their reputations, and responsibility to the public.”

The lawsuit said, “Defendants’ abuses will imminently deprive the NRA of basic bank-depository services, corporate insurance coverage, and other financial services essential to the NRA’s corporate existence and its advocacy mission.”

Cuomo’s office had no immediate comment Friday. In May, Cuomo released a statement calling the original lawsuit “a futile and desperate attempt to advance its dangerous agenda to sell more guns.”


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