The National Rifle Association claimed in an amended complaint against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a state agency that money has been tight for the gun lobby group since the state advised insurers to cut ties with the association.
The NRA said in a recent filing that without injunctive relief, they could soon be forced to cut services for its members, like the group’s livestream television channel or various print publications.
In a lawsuit filed in May, the NRA claimed that Cuomo and state Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo conspired to coerce financial institutions to sever business ties with the association, causing it to suffer financial losses. The association claimed those actions infringed on their free-speech protections to advocate for gun rights.
The state argued in an opposing motion to the NRA in early July that the insurers they were targeting were selling insurance coverage that violated state law. That insurance, called Carry Guard, provides coverage for criminal defense costs and civil protections incurred after a gun is used in self-defense.
The state wrote in its motion that the coverage is illegal because “New York state law prohibits insurance coverage to defense costs arising out of a crime.” The state also said the Carry Guard program did not meet the minimum requirements for liability insurance policies in New York state.
The state also argued that the NRA’s lawsuit is a retaliatory effort against the state’s actions in regard to the Carry Guard program.
In their amended complaint, the NRA argued the opposite. It said the state was acting deliberately to damage the credibility and economic well-being of the association. The new complaint includes two new counts against Cuomo, the state Department of Financial Services, and Vullo, superintendent of the DFS.
The NRA claimed in the first of those new counts that the state’s actions have limited the group’s ability to engage in political advocacy as a lobbying group. The association has specifically had trouble obtaining corporate insurance coverage, media liability coverage and basic banking services, according to the complaint.
In the other new count, the NRA said Cuomo and Vullo acted “with malicious intent” to harm the economic well-being of the association. The NRA claimed the pair intended to drive the NRA and its advocacy out of New York state through their actions with disregard of the group’s constitutional rights.
William Brewer III is the lead attorney for the NRA in the case from Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors in Dallas. He said in a statement that the NRA is “suffering setbacks” because of the state’s actions.
“The amended complaint raises concerns about the material impacts to the NRA as a result of the actions of Governor Cuomo and DFS,” Brewer said. “Our client is suffering setbacks with respect to the availability of insurance and banking services—as a result of a political and discriminatory campaign meant to coerce financial institutions to refrain from doing business with the NRA. The actions of defendants are a blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of our organization.”
Banking services and insurance coverage have been particularly hard to come by, the NRA said. Vullo issued a letter in April that encouraged state-regulated financial institutions to re-evaluate their relationship with the group. Since then, multiple banks have withdrawn their interest to provide services for the NRA, the group said.
The NRA is also concerned about its inability to obtain media liability insurance. NRATV may have to cease operations if it cannot find that coverage, the NRA said.
“The NRA has spoken to numerous carriers in an effort to obtain replacement corporate insurance coverage; nearly every carrier has indicated that it fears transacting with the NRA specifically in light of DFS’s actions against Lockton and Chubb,” the amended complaint said.
Lockton Cos. and Chubb are two companies that agreed to stop offering insurance with the NRA after Vullo’s letter in April.
The group said in both the original and amended complaint that the state’s actions have caused the NRA to suffer “tens of millions of dollars” in damages, though they did not specify an amount. They had previously sought expedited discovery in the case to determine the extent of its losses.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office is representing the state in the matter. Assistant Attorney General Adrienne Kerwin wrote the opposing motion from early July. A future court date has not been set in the case.