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NRA sues New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing state of 'blacklisting' it

The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit Friday against New York's governor and a state agency, accusing them o...

Posted: May 13, 2018 5:08 PM
Updated: May 13, 2018 6:49 PM

The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit Friday against New York's governor and a state agency, accusing them of coercing banks and insurance companies to withhold services to the gun lobbying group.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for Northern New York, came days after the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) fined several insurance companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for participating in an NRA-backed liability insurance program for gun owners.

The state also also secured agreements from those companies not to offer such insurance again.

In its lawsuit, the NRA alleges that this -- and other actions -- showed Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state DFS were unconstitutionally trying to force companies to disassociate from the lobby group.

And the suit contends the state's actions "prevents, or at a minimum chills," the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its members to free speech -- including their right to speak freely about gun-related issues.

"Simply put, defendants made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA," the lawsuit states.

The suit alleges this amounts to a "blacklisting campaign (that) will continue to damage the NRA and its members" if the court doesn't act.

State urged banks, insurers to review relationships with NRA

The plaintiff also points to an April news release in which Cuomo called on the DFS to urge insurers and banks in New York "to review any relationships they may have with the National Rifle Association."

The release noted that a number of companies were ending relationships with the NRA -- including by ending special discounts or other special services for NRA members -- after February's shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

In that same release, DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo urged "all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York to join the companies that have already discontinued their arrangements with the NRA."

Vullo also sent letters to banks and insurers asking them to review any relationships with the gun lobby organization.

"Political differences aside, our client believes the tactics employed by these public officials (in New York) are aimed to deprive the NRA of its First Amendment right to speak freely about gun-related issues and in defense of the Second Amendment," William A. Brewer III, a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement.

The lawsuit asks the court, in part, to award unspecified monetary damages to the NRA and stop the state from prohibiting the insurance companies from doing business with the gun lobby group.

In a statement released Friday, Cuomo said the NRA's lawsuit "is a futile and desperate attempt to advance its dangerous agenda to sell more guns."

"In New York, we won't be intimidated by frivolous court actions from a group of lobbyists bent on chipping away at commonsense gun safety laws that many responsible gun owners actually support. We have an obligation to protect New Yorkers, and this sham suit will do nothing to stop that," Cuomo said.

Focus on 'Carry Guard' insurance program

The lawsuit partly focuses on the state's crackdown on the NRA-branded "Carry Guard" program, which provides liability insurance for policyholders involved in shooting incidents.

The DFS has said that the program violated state insurance law. It has argued the NRA publicized the program as something it created -- and the DFS asserts the NRA doesn't have a license to conduct insurance business in New York.

This month, DFS fined two insurers involved in the Carry Guard program.

On May 2, DFS said insurer Lockton Cos. LLC and its affiliate, Lockton Affinity LLC, agreed to pay a $7 million fine for administering the program.

Five days later, DFS said insurer Chubb Ltd. and its subsidiary, Illinois Union Insurance Co., agreed to pay $1.3 million for underwriting the program.

Lockton also agreed to refrain from entering into any program "with the NRA to underwrite or participate in any affinity-type insurance program involving any line of insurance to be issued or delivered in New York state," with the exception of helping the NRA be insured for its own corporate operations.

Chubb and Illinois Union agreed to a similar prohibition.

On February 26 -- 12 days after the Parkland shooting -- Lockton announced it would "discontinue providing brokerage services for NRA-endorsed insurance programs."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 13373
CountyCasesDeaths
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Hamilton35392408
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Tippecanoe22315217
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Ohio56211
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1078734

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1253471392
Cuyahoga1113202107
Hamilton797471200
Montgomery512091012
Summit46916933
Lucas41890782
Butler38250580
Stark32150907
Lorain24874480
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Fairfield16116199
Trumbull15974466
Medina15213262
Greene15013244
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Wood13038188
Portage12792201
Allen11590231
Richland11300198
Miami10656215
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Wayne8760210
Columbiana8743229
Pickaway8540121
Marion8502135
Tuscarawas8461243
Erie7840154
Hancock6884126
Ross6830152
Ashtabula6765169
Geauga6664148
Scioto6393101
Belmont5837167
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Jefferson5487151
Huron5419119
Darke5342122
Sandusky5322120
Seneca5258121
Athens518158
Washington5138109
Auglaize487884
Mercer479785
Shelby467693
Knox4477110
Madison435061
Putnam4263100
Ashland420989
Fulton420469
Defiance417797
Crawford3960106
Brown392457
Logan380976
Preble378498
Clinton369961
Ottawa366179
Highland353161
Williams337275
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Guernsey315353
Jackson311851
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Morrow283739
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Holmes2591101
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Pike237333
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Gallia235048
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Hocking214862
Carroll191047
Paulding171740
Meigs144339
Noble133437
Monroe131242
Morgan108323
Harrison107437
Vinton82115
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