NEW YORK (AP) — A National Rifle Association leader-turned-critic is meeting with New York investigators next week, and the NRA wants to be there.a
New York’s attorney general’s office is questioning Oliver North on Tuesday as it probes whether the NRA broke laws governing its nonprofit status.
The powerful gun lobby asked a New York state judge Friday to let it in the meeting, saying it would be “severely prejudiced” if privileged information is divulged.
In court papers, it said it had asked the attorney general’s office to be included in the meeting but was told it would be burdensome and was refused.
The NRA cited grounds why some information could be kept from investigators, including attorney client privilege, work-product rules and other unspecified privileges.
NRA lawyers said they reviewed 899 pages of documents from North’s lawyers that were prepared for investigators and found several dozen examples of privileged information that had not been redacted.
In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James defended the integrity of her office.
“The NRA’s scare tactics simply won’t work here,” the statement said. “Our investigation is proceeding with the same focus and fairness we apply to any case. Whether its deposing NRA leaders or fact finding through other investigative tools, we will ensure that justice is served because no one is above the law.”
The NRA is facing several legal battles. The attorney general of Washington, D.C., has subpoenaed the group and its related charitable organization in a probe into financial misconduct allegations. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee also has launched an investigation into the NRA’s operations.
North was forced out as the NRA’s president in the spring just ahead of the group’s annual meeting.
The NRA later sued North, trying to block his effort to be reimbursed for legal expenses related to investigations and lawsuits involving the NRA.
North — better known for being accused of obstructing Congress during an investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s but whose convictions were later reversed — has accused the NRA’s top lawyer and its chief executive officer of thwarting efforts to independently review the NRA’s expenses and operations.
NRA critics have questioned the group’s spending, citing hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by its CEO on clothing and private jet travel and tens of millions of dollars spent over decades with an Oklahoma-based marketing firm behind some of its most powerful messages. It has since ended that relationship and the marketing firm and NRA have sued each other.
The NRA is chartered out of New York, while the NRA Foundation is chartered out of Washington.