A federal judge today told the National Rifle Association what it didn't want to hear: the group's effort to file for bankruptcy protection has been denied. The Washington Post reported:
"The Court finds, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the NRA's bankruptcy petition was not filed in good faith but instead was filed as an effort to gain an unfair litigation advantage in the NYAG Enforcement Action and as an effort to avoid a regulatory scheme," Judge Harlin Hale wrote in a 37-page decision. Hale's decision follows a weeks-long hearing that revealed details about alleged mismanagement and excessive spending by top officials at the influential gun lobby, including Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's controversial leader for the past three decades.
For those who may not have been following the proceedings, let's quickly recap how we arrived at this point.
When former NRA president Oliver North was in the process of being ousted from his post two years ago, North said in his resignation letter that there was "a clear crisis" within the right-wing organization. It wasn't long before the public saw ample evidence to bolster the claim.
The list of controversies was not short. NRA executives, for example, were accused of, among other things, lavish spending on themselves, and directing funds to the group's unpaid NRA board members. They were part of an avalanche of questions surrounding the NRA's use -- and alleged misuse -- of its resources.
It was against this backdrop that New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced last summer that her office had filed suit against the NRA, with the intention of dissolving the organization for "diverting charitable funds to support wasteful spending."
Earlier this year, the NRA looked for a way around the civil litigation, announcing plans to leave New York -- its home since its founding in 1871 -- and seek bankruptcy protection.
The connection between the case in New York and the NRA's relocation plans was not subtle. As the New York Times reported, the group appeared to be "seeking an end-run" around the case brought by state attorney general's office and was designed to "circumvent New York's legal jurisdiction."
Today, those efforts were thwarted by a federal judge.
That said, the legal dispute isn't entirely resolved just yet. The NRA will no doubt appeal today's ruling, and the process will take quite a while longer. That does not, however, negate the fact that this afternoon's decision was most certainly not what the organization wanted to see.