2019-07-03 18:37:521 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Just before a hugely important election, you don't want to get on the bad side of one of your largest supporters who helped you get elected last time, but that's what's happening to Donald Trump, as his suggestion to the National Rifle Association (NRA) didn't go over too well.
Part of this is possibly his efforts to slam his home state, New York, more than to help the NRA. He tweeted, "People are fleeing New York like never before. If they own a business, they are twice as likely to flee."
"And if they are a victim of harassment by the A.G. of the state, like what they are doing to our great NRA, which I think will move quickly to Texas, where they are loved, Texas will defend them and indemnify them against political harassment by New York State and Governor Cuomo," he added, before further denigrating New York.
He may have been telling the NRA what to do, or he may also have been just trying to help an organization that donated more than $30 million to Trump's 2016 campaign.
The NRA isn't loading up the trucks and moving cross country to Texas just yet, though.
"The NRA appreciates the ongoing support from President Trump," said Andrew Arulanandam in a statement. "He's a champion for our cause and the freedoms for which we stand."
And while they certainly have their differences with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and State's Attorney General Letitia James for an investigation challenging their status as a nonprofit, Arulanandam said they "have a long and proud history in New York — for almost 150 years."
He added in no uncertain terms, that they will not be following Trump's suggestion. "Our plan is to stay here," he said. "We'll fight for our members right there and across the nation and defend their interests like never before."
James is investigating the NRA's finances after several potential instances of financial impropriety were reported recently. The NRA has explained that in order to respond to the investigation, they had to sue the Ackerman McQueen PR firm to get their business records.
Only the NRA's charter is in New York, however, with the organization's headquarters located in Virginia. The charter allows James to conduct oversight of the NRA, while a move to Texas would not end the legal problems.
Ackerman has turned around and sued the NRA after the split, with the case currently in the Circuit Court of Alexandria. But even if the NRA did move to Texas or elsewhere, it wouldn't end their legal woes.
Further, if the organization did decide to relocate, it would first need to file a certificate of dissolution with New York's Department of State, and they couldn't even make that move unless given the go-ahead from the attorney general's office, showing once again Trump is not clear on the law.
"Under New York law you have to get permission from the state's attorney general to do that," said Pace Law School professor and New York Nonprofit Law and Practice author James Fishman.
"That's really to stop organizations that, say, are crooked from dissolving and running away to another state. The NRA is stuck."
Trump should know this law, though, as he himself was stuck at one point. As the president-elect in 2016 he announced his foundation was closing after allegations he had used it to profit politically and personally. However, former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman informed him he couldn't dissolve the foundation while it was being investigated.
Adding to the difficulties for both the NRA and Trump's reelection efforts, the NRA is dealing with so much currently in litigation and leadership challenges, that there's a concern that its pull will be much less leading into the election, possibly hurting Trump who was helped at the polls by the NRA's ad campaign pushing members to vote Trump and make America great again.
Adding to that, the Chamber of Commerce and Koch political network aren't pushing conservative candidates anymore either, leaving Republicans to worry how their electoral process will fare without these three major players.
"No organization has been more important to conservative voter education and engagement than the NRA. We all hope they're able to mount the kind of effort in the 2020 cycle they have in the past," said former American Conservative Union executive director Gregg Keller.
"But in case they can't, given their current situation, I hope they're being forthright about that within the movement so others can pick up the slack.
"The situation," Keller added, "has folks nervous."
"Infighting and accusations playing out almost daily in the national media regarding the NRA have not been helpful. Clearly, it will have an impact in the NRA's ability to raise money, which would be used in elections to turn out its membership," said national GOP strategist Chris LaCivita.
It's also troubling to David McIntosh, a former Republican congressman and current president of the Club for Growth. He's concerned by the Koch network's refocused efforts, noting that after former President Barack Obama won in 2008, the network provided needed infrastructure to an angry party.
"Right now the party is functioning," he said. "But if you see another collapse, or we lose the White House, I think you're going to see Republicans frankly in a world of hurt without a funding group like that."
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