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(Reuters) — A lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia James called the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy bid “a circus sideshow” during closing arguments on Monday in a case over whether to allow the NRA to reorganize in the gun-friendly state of Texas.
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 in January, saying it planned to use the bankruptcy process to exit what it has called a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York, where is it currently incorporated.
It is attempting to fend off a lawsuit to dismiss the Chapter 11 case by Attorney General James and the group’s former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen.
The NRA’s lawyers will present their closing arguments later on Monday.
The case before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin Hale in Dallas coincides with the United States reeling from another spate of mass shootings, with President Joe Biden calling for a ban on assault weapons and tighter gun control measures.
If the NRA is permitted to proceed with the Chapter 11 case, it could make it easier for it to fend off allegations of financial wrongdoing and corruption.
Attorney General James, a Democrat, sued the NRA and Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre in New York state court in August, accusing it of financial misconduct and aiming to dissolve the organization.
She said the NRA had diverted millions of dollars to fund luxurious trips for officials, no-show contracts for associates, and other questionable expenses.
Mr. LaPierre has testified that he sought bankruptcy protection out of fear that Attorney General James would try to place it into receivership.
Attorney General James has said the NRA claims to be solvent and called its bankruptcy and plan to reincorporate in Texas after 150 years in New York a bad-faith effort to escape her lawsuit and oversight.
Gerrit Pronske, a lawyer for Attorney General James, called the NRA’s bankruptcy “a circus sideshow” on Monday during the closing stages of the trial that began on April 5. The NRA has accused Attorney General James of “weaponizing” her powers to pursue a “blatant and malicious retaliation campaign” against the group because she dislikes what it stands for.
The National Rifle Association on Friday sought to halt a New York regulatory enforcement action for its alleged unlicensed sale of insurance, asserting it was singled out for political reasons.