NRA Challenges New York’s Attempt to Block Deposition of Regulator

By | May 3, 2019

The National Rifle Association is challenging renewed efforts by New York state officials to prevent a former regulator from being questioned under oath by the gun-rights group, the latest spat in a legal dispute over an NRA-branded insurance product.

Last month, New York asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian Hummel in Albany to reconsider a ruling allowing the NRA to depose Maria Vullo, the former superintendent at the New York Department of Financial Services. Vullo led a probe into the insurance program, called Carry Guard, which the state determined last year to be unlawful, triggering the NRA’s suit.

The state’s “dissatisfaction with the court’s order is not grounds for reconsideration,” the NRA said in a filing this week. “Vullo possesses unique, firsthand knowledge” of the organization’s claims and needs to be questioned, it said.

Caitlin Girouard, press secretary for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said Thursday in an email, that the NRA’s claim “is a frivolous lawsuit and the state intends to vigorously defend itself.”

The insurance fight isn’t the only dispute between the NRA and the state. New York Attorney General Letitia James has said she is investigating the group’s nonprofit status. James, a vocal proponent of gun control, announced the probe after the New Yorker magazine reported on internal claims of wrongdoing at the NRA over its financial relationship with an advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen.

Cover Guard policies cover bodily injury or property damages that result from the legal use of a firearm, prompting critics to call the product “murder insurance.” New York regulators said an investigation found that the NRA marketed those policies online and through the mail, while not having a license to do so.

Hummel said the NRA can question Vullo about a phone call she had about Carry Guard with a regulator in California, which has also cracked down on the insurance program. The NRA claims the phone call is “central” to its claim that the NRA was targeted by Vullo and Cuomo as a result of “selective enforcement” of state law.

New York’s investigation resulted in insurer Chubb Ltd. and insurance broker Lockton Cos. halting their programs for NRA members and paying millions of dollars in fines.

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