New York state investigating NRA's finances; subpoenas issued

New York state Attorney General Letitia James has begun an investigation into the National Rifle Association’s finances, her spokeswoman said Saturday.

“The Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation related to the National Rifle Association (NRA),” spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said in an email to the Associated Press. “As part of this investigation, the Attorney General has issued subpoenas.”

William A. Brewer, the NRA's outside lawyer, said the gun lobby group "will fully cooperate with any inquiry into its finances."

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New York state Attorney General Letitia James has begun an investigation into the National Rifle Association. A spokeswoman for James said Saturday that her office has issued subpoenas as part of the probe. (Associated Press)

New York state Attorney General Letitia James has begun an investigation into the National Rifle Association. A spokeswoman for James said Saturday that her office has issued subpoenas as part of the probe. (Associated Press)

James, a Democrat, vowed during her campaign last year to investigate the NRA's not-for-profit status if elected.

“I will use the constitutional power as an attorney general to regulate charities, that includes the NRA, to investigate their legitimacy,” she said at a July 12 rally.

The news comes as the gun rights group grapples with infighting that erupted during its annual convention in Indianapolis this weekend. Oliver North announced Saturday that he would step down from his role as president. The move follows his failed attempt to remove NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

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National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the NRA Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis on Saturday. (Associated Press)

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the NRA Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis on Saturday. (Associated Press)

The rift within the NRA was fueled in part by the threatened New York investigation. The group began a review of all its contractors last summer after James promised to investigate.

The review led the NRA to sue its longtime public relations firm, Oklahoma-based Ackerman McQueen, which some NRA officials complained was refusing to turn over financial records. North had taken the firm's side in the legal battle, which led to accusations he had a conflict of interest because Ackerman had paid him.

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The NRA has clashed repeatedly with New York elected officials aiming to curb the organization's political influence.

The group filed a lawsuit last year against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials after New York fined insurance broker Lockton Cos. LLC $7 million for underwriting an NRA-branded insurance program called Carry Guard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.