On Friday, the NRA fired back at the New York Department of Financial Services and their plans to conduct enforcement proceedings against the NRA over the organization’s alleged violations of New York State insurance law.
In the filing, the NRA claims that “startling new evidence and documents” detail backroom pressure placed on insurance companies to blacklist the NRA, hurriedly amended hearing rules, and contrived conclusions designed to “divert important issues to a private, DFS-controlled forum” rather than a New York jury.
The filing alleges the DFS’s latest actions against the NRA threaten “important rights under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”
The filing also rolls out a couple of recognized legal experts to support the claim: former senior New York insurance regulator, John R. Cashin, and civil procedure expert Arthur Miller.
According to the NRA’s out-of-house counsel William A. Brewer III, there is a single, underlying allegation: “the NRA has been treated more harshly and differently by DFS than other regulated entitles- singled out to weaken gun-rights advocacy in New York.”
The battle began in 2017 after DFS and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to an anti-NRA activist group’s urging to investigate insurance products offered to NRA members. The NRA claims that the DFS’s resultant investigation “broadened into a blacklisting campaign that coerced insurers, banks and others to cut ties with the NRA- or face the full range of consequences that regulators might impose.”
According to the allegations in the NRA’s First Amendment lawsuit, DFS, Cuomo and former DFS Superintendent Maria T. Vullo -along with anti-gun groups- worked “hand-in-glove to orchestrate the financial ‘blacklisting’ campaign against the NRA, going so far as to threaten reprisals against companies that provided health insurance to NRA members.
According to the NRA, a discovery of new evidence in December that supported its claim of selective enforcement was to have resulted in an amendment to the lawsuit. Instead, the DFS “contacted the NRA and announced that it intended immediately to commence and administrative proceeding against the NRA- the first of its kind in the Department’s history, pursuant to just-announced amended procedural rules enacted by DFS on an ‘emergency basis.’”
According to Brewer, the “timing of the DFS’s enforcement action- on the heels of that proposed amendment- is no coincidence.”
“Rather than litigate these troubling allegations,” Brewer says, “DFS seeks to distract the public with negative headlines and divert important legal issues to a chamber it controls.”
That argument is, as expected, accepted by both Cashin and Miller. Cashin says he “finds no evidence of proceedings by DFS against any other affinity client.” Adding that in forty-five years he has “never witnessed hostilities against an affinity client that are comparable to those against the NRA.”
Miller’s response to the DFS’ actions says the moving of the case to what is a DFS-controlled “tribunal” would “subject the NRA to irreparable harm.”
No response yet from the New York State DFS.
We’ll keep you posted.