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Washington AG opens inquiry into NRA's financial affairs

FILE - In this Saturday, April 27, 2019, file photo, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the NRA Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis. Former NRA President Oliver North says in court filings that he was thwarted at every step as he tried to raise alarm bells about alleged misspending at the gun lobbying group. He denied that he had tried to stage a coup to oust LaPierre. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

WASHINGTON — The attorney general for the District of Columbia issued subpoenas on Friday to the National Rifle Association and its charitable foundation seeking financial records in an investigation into their nonprofit status.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement his office "has issued subpoenas to the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and the NRA Foundation, Inc., as part of an investigation into whether these entities violated the District’s Nonprofit Act."

The announcement, first reported by the Washington Post, follows similar action in April by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who sought documents in a probe that the New York Times said involved the powerful gun lobby group's tax-exempt status.

William Brewer, an attorney for the NRA, said the group "will cooperate with any appropriate inquiry into its finances."

"The NRA has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance," Brewer said in an emailed statement on Friday.

With more than 5 million members, the NRA is, by far, the most powerful and well-connected gun lobby in the United States. It has worked closely with legislators to protect firearms manufacturers from liability for gun violence and pushed a ban on U.S. health officials promoting gun control.

"We are seeking documents from these two nonprofits detailing, among other things, their financial records, payments to vendors, and payments to officers and directors," Racine said.

Racine's office has the power to bring court actions to dissolve or place in receivership a nonprofit corporation that misuses funds or acts contrary to its nonprofit purposes.  

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