© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Fairfax
By Maria Chutchian
(Reuters) – An attorney for New York attorney general Letitia James described the National Rifle Association's bankruptcy offer as a "circus sideshow" during the closing arguments on Monday over a case over whether the NRA should allow a restructuring in the gun-friendly state of Texas.
The NRA filed Chapter 11 in January, saying it plans to use the bankruptcy process to get out of what is known as the corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York, where it is currently incorporated.
A lawsuit is being tried to dismiss the case of Chapter 11 by James and the group's former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen.
The NRA lawyers will come up with their final arguments later on Monday.
The case before US bankruptcy judge Harlin Hale in Dallas coincides with the US, which has been hit by another spate of mass shootings. President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault weapons and stricter arms control measures. The advocacy group for gun rights was instrumental in its rejection of such laws in the US Congress.
Allowing the NRA to proceed with the Chapter 11 case could help defend against allegations of financial misconduct and corruption.
James, a Democrat, sued the NRA and general manager Wayne LaPierre in New York State Court in August, accusing them of financial misconduct and seeking to disband the organization.
She said the NRA had diverted millions of dollars to fund luxury travel for civil servants, no-show contracts for employees, and other questionable expenses.
LaPierre has testified that he filed for bankruptcy protection fearing James would try to bankrupt him.
James has said that the NRA claims to be solvent and called its bankruptcy and plan to re-establish in Texas after 150 years in New York a malicious effort to evade its lawsuit and oversight.
Gerrit Pronske, an attorney for James, called the NRA's bankruptcy a "circus sideshow" on Monday during the closing stages of the April 5 trial. The NRA has accused James of having "armed" their powers to prosecute a "blatant and malicious" weapon "against the group for not liking what it stands for.
A lawyer for the NRA's former advertising agency, Ackerman, attacked the LaPierre leadership on Monday, calling him a "dictator" and arguing that the bankruptcy was a "fraud in the court".
Attorney Brian Mason said LaPierre violated the NRA's own bylaws by including the organization in Chapter 11 without first obtaining Board approval. LaPierre has denied allegations of wrongdoing, arguing that he has authority to petition Chapter 11 on behalf of the NRA.
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