LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced on Tuesday that Arkansas is leading a coalition of 16 states who support the National Rifle Association's lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In August, James filed a lawsuit accusing the influential pro-gun organization of funneling millions of dollars away from its charitable mission. The suit alleges that NRA Vice-President Wayne Lapierre and three other NRA executives used millions of dollars from NRA reserves for personal use, and extravagant lifestyles. James called for the group to be dissolved.
The NRA filed a counter-suit against the New York Attorney General's office shortly after, claiming James's action was politically motivated and violated First Amendment rights.
On Tuesday, Rutledge announced that Arkansas is leading the coalition to support the NRA in its legal action against New York. The Republican attorney general said at a news conference that there are many NRA members in Arkansas who would be affected by the NRA dissolving.
The coalition filed a brief in U.S. district court backing up the organization and calling James' lawsuit a political stunt. The brief argues that New York’s lawsuit violates the First Amendment because it was designed to retaliate against the NRA and its members for these constitutionally-protected activities.
“Even if it makes me unpopular in places like New York, I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms," Rutledge said in a statement Tuesday. "That is why I oppose the New York Attorney General’s political stunt and am proud to lead these 16 States in supporting the NRA’s lawsuit against New York. I repeat my invitation to the NRA: The Natural State would happily welcome an organization that fights for the Second Amendment rights of Arkansans and all Americans.”
James sued the organization because she doesn’t like the NRA’s political advocacy, its members’ political views, and the organization’s defense of a fundamental constitutional right, Rutledge said in a news release.
Arkansas is joined in the coalition by Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.