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The National Rifle Association was given the OK by a federal magistrate judge on Wednesday to question former New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo in its First Amendment litigation against New York state.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel in the U.S. District Court in Albany, New York, agreed with the NRA over the New York attorney general’s office’s objections, and said, “’The Court finds that plaintiff has demonstrated that Ms. Vullo’s specific rationale for her alleged actions is at issue in this case such that her deposition testimony may be the only way” to address “critical blanks” in the record.
The NRA has charged New York in National Rifle Associator v. Andrew Cuomo, et al., with allegedly violating its First Amendment rights and threatening its existence by putting pressure on insurers and banks doing business with the organization.
A July 2018 amended complaint in the litigation charges that through Gov. Cuomo’s and Ms. Vullo’s actions, it has “sustained and has continued to sustain economic damages from lost prospective business relations,” including lost royalty payments from future affinity programs and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Commenting on the ruling, William A. Brewer III, a partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors in Dallas and NRA lead counsel, said in a statement: “The ruling is gratifying, and correct. As the head of a major financial regulator, Ms. Vullo singled out the NRA to suppress its speech. She should answer questions regarding this conduct.”
Mr. Brewer added, “This is a significant development for the advocacy of the NRA. We are anxious to discover all the facts and bring them into open view — to the benefit of the Association and the First Amendment.”
A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo said in a statement: "New York is standing up to the gun lobby to protect the lives and liberty of our citizens. This is a frivolous lawsuit and the state intends to vigorously defend itself.”
The National Rifle Association on Friday said it has filed a lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Financial Services and the department’s superintendent, Maria T. Vullo, for allegedly violating the gun rights’ organization’s First Amendment rights related to the NRA-branded “Carry Guard” insurance program.