• U.S.
    The Daily Beast

    The Real Reason New York’s Attorney General Went After the NRA

    New York Attorney General Letitia James may be able to do what no politician before her has been able to accomplish – take down the National Rifle Association. Her lawsuit alleging self-dealing and misconduct could, if successful, dissolve the entire organization. While the suit is civil in nature, it reads like an old-fashioned corruption indictment. It alleges that the not-for profit organization violated New York state laws governing charities by diverting tens of millions of dollars away from the organization’s mission for the personal benefit of its leaders, with Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s Executive Vice President for the past 29 years, and three other officers named as defendants along with the organization itself. According to the complaint, LaPierre used NRA funds for eight private plane flights to the Bahamas, where they enjoyed life on the 107-foot yacht of an NRA vendor, as well as for safaris in Africa and elsewhere. The complaint also claims that LaPierre allotted millions of dollars for private security for himself without sufficient oversight (and cited “security” concerns to explain why he didn’t disclose those trips to the NRA’s board), that he  spent $1.2 million of the group’s funds on gifts from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for favored friends and vendors, and that he negotiated a post-employment contract for himself valued at $17 million without board approval. ‘Fraught With Fraud and Abuse’: NY Attorney General Sues to Dissolve the National Rifle AssociationNew York, like most states, requires non-profit organizations to file annual financial reports as a condition of its non-profit status, which confers tax benefits for the organization and its donors. The law requires funds to be used to serve the organization’s members and advance its charitable mission. The complaint alleges that the NRA’s leaders “blatantly ignored” those rules by failing to ensure proper internal controls, ignoring whistleblowers and concealing problems from auditors. Like other cases of corruption, this easily could have been framed as a criminal case. Filing false registration and disclosure documents as part of a scheme to defraud can serve as the basis for federal mail or wire fraud, and often does in public corruption cases. When I served as a federal prosecutor, my former office brought public corruption cases on such theories in similar cases in which officials misused funds for personal benefit. Why then, is it left to James, whose office’s oversight over charities is civil in nature, to bring this action? The silence of the U.S. Department of Justice here is deafening. But the effect of the state attorney general’s civil case might be even more devastating than a criminal case because one of the remedies of her action is dissolution of the NRA itself.  She used the same tactics to dissolve the Trump Foundation in November. There, she reached a settlement with President Donald Trump and family members to pay $2 million to resolve allegations of misuse of charitable funds to influence the 2016 presidential primary election and to further his own personal interests. Among the improper use of funds was doling out $500,000 to potential voters at a 2016 campaign rally in Iowa. As part of that settlement, James required Trump to personally admit to misusing the Foundation’s funds. Sometimes, parties to settlements are permitted to publicly state that a resolution is not an admission of wrongdoing. James would not let them off so easily. Her success in the Trump Foundation case puts teeth into her legal quest to dissolve the NRA as well. Trump to NRA Bigwigs: Get Better LawyersSince 1871, the NRA has been the nation’s largest gun advocacy group. Founded to improve marksmanship following the Civil War, the organization has lately become a powerful lobbying organization and campaign funder that can make or break candidates for political office depending on their stance on firearms regulations. As its website boasts, the NRA is “widely recognized today as a major political force.” Following mass shootings in America, Democratic candidates for office have blamed the NRA for the inability to pass gun reform legislation, and have demanded campaign finance reform to expose and limit the organization’s influence on elections. No doubt, there will be Second Amendment advocates who claim that the New York lawsuit is politically motivated effort to strike a blow against gun ownership. Indeed, if the allegations are true that the NRA engaged in cartoonishly corrupt self-dealing and misconduct, then the dissolution of the NRA would end its 139-year run as the nation’s strongest advocate for gun rights. The law may be the only weapon that can take down the NRA. And if James can prove her case, then the demise of the NRA will be a self-inflicted wound. Lawsuit: The NRA’s ‘School Safety Initiative’ Was a Front to Increase FundraisingRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • Lifestyle
    Motorious

    Restored 429 Mach 1 Mustang Destroyed Just Miles Away From Destination

    The beautiful muscle car was being transported from New York to Georgia.

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  • Politics
    The Week

    Trump may have unwittingly cost himself one of his biggest donors

    President Trump's allies are growing worried about his re-election chances, Politico reports, with one Republican close to the White House comparing the situation to the 1993 film Groundhog Day. "You think it's better, then it's not," the official told Politico.One incident that probably won't allay their concerns is a recent phone conversation between Trump and GOP megadonor and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, per Politico. Adelson reportedly called Trump last week to discuss the coronavirus relief bill and the economy, but Trump eventually turned the conversation to the campaign and asked Adelson why he wasn't doing more to help, three people with direct knowledge of the call told Politico.One of the sources said it became clear Trump wasn't aware of the extent to which Adelson — whom Politico describes as a financial linchpin who has donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts — has poured in resources for the president. Adelson reportedly didn't fire back at Trump, and his allies say it's unclear if the phone call will dissuade him from working to bolster Trump's campaign during the home stretch. But Republican Party officials were reportedly alarmed by the incident and rushed to smooth things over. Read more at Politico.More stories from theweek.com Trump's latest fundraising attempt is reportedly a Facebook scam against his own supporters Biden campaign reportedly making 'ruthless cuts' to convention speaking list The case against American truck bloat

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  • U.S.
    Good Morning America

    Coronavirus live updates: Georgia school district says 100 students, staff test positive

    More than 19.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The Florida Department of Health reported increases in both hospitalizations and deaths Saturday.

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  • U.S.
    Seventeen

    Georgia High School Unable to Mandate Face Masks, But Perfectly Capable of Enforcing Sexist Dress Code

    The school says "there is no practical way to enforce a mandate," on masks, but has an extensive dress code students must abide by.

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  • Business
    Bloomberg

    Mother and Son's $35 Billion Fortune Shrinks on Auto Woes

    (Bloomberg) -- In early 2018, Georg Schaeffler became Germany’s richest person as shares of Continental AG, the car-part maker in which he and his mother -- Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann -- own a major stake, surged in price. At the time, their combined fortune totaled $35 billion.They’re now worth about a quarter of that. That’s partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has significantly curbed auto sales, as well as the industry’s broader shift toward electric cars. The Schaefflers ended each of the last two years less well-off than they began, and 2020 may be the same. Both have lost about a quarter of their wealth so far this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a listing of the world’s 500 richest people.Read more: World’s wealthiest family gets $1 billion richer every two weeksWhile they’re still super-wealthy, the slump in the Schaefflers’ fortune is among the biggest on the Bloomberg index and highlights the slowdown in global vehicle production. Georg, 55, and Maria-Elisabeth, 78, also control Schaeffler AG, the German engineering group that has faced similar pressures as Continental. Shares in both companies have tumbled by more than a fifth this year.A spokesman for the Schaefflers declined to comment.Rare SwingSuch swings are rare for multi-generational family fortunes of this size, thanks largely to diversification. While founders can be  single-minded in their pursuits, their heirs often look to reduce risks by branching out into new ventures.  For example, the Mars family began as candy makers but have since pushed into pet-care products, which now comprise about half of annual sales of the business behind their $120 billion fortune. Germany’s Reimann clan have parlayed the proceeds of a chemicals business into a consumer goods empire spanning Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread restaurants.The Schaefflers are now worth $8.5 billion, according to Bloomberg’s wealth index, though the family may have arrangements to protect them against slumping share prices. Other fortunes linked to the auto industry are also suffering during the pandemic. Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, major shareholders of car-maker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-Koo have seen their fortunes fall about 10% this year, according to the Bloomberg index.Still, the Schaefflers have bounced back before. Their debt-fueled takeover of Continental forced them to ask for emergency support after credit markets contracted in the 2008 financial crisis, but the company’s share price then surged between 2009 and early 2018. In a sign of another potential rebound, Continental’s shares have climbed more than 50% since mid-March, though the company has said its outlook for the rest of the year remains uncertain.Read more: Continental sales beat estimates, but car supplier is waryContinental, one of the world’s largest supplier of vehicle components, mapped out plans last year for a fundamental overhaul to restore weak profits. The company then announced in March it would explore additional cost cuts and potential plant closures and later said it would cut its dividend payout to save about 350 million euros ($413.5 million). Meanwhile, Schaeffler AG is considering a fresh cost-cutting program to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.“We’ve gotten through the first trough, now we need to look at what we can do next,” Schaeffler Chief Executive Officer Klaus Rosenfeld said Tuesday in an interview to discuss first-half earnings. ``“We’re cautiously optimistic that the crisis will slowly abate.’’Wooden HandcartsGeorg’s father and uncle founded Schaeffler -- then called INA-Holding Schaeffler KG -- in 1946 to make wooden handcarts. The company expanded in 1949 after Georg’s father, an inventor, developed a method to make critical machine components more reliable.By the early 1990s, Schaeffler had more than 20,000 workers at plants on three continents. When his father died in 1996, Georg Schaeffler inherited 80% of the ball-bearing business that carries his surname while his mother inherited the rest. Both serve on the supervisory boards of Continental and Schaeffler, which held an initial public offering in 2015 to help pay down its debts.While Georg grew up as the heir to an engineering empire, obtaining degrees in business and law, Maria-Elisabeth studied medicine and never expected to embark on a business career. Born in Prague and raised in Vienna, she was a medical student in the Austrian capital when she met Georg’s father. They married when she was 22, and Maria-Elisabeth eventually became involved in her family’s business affairs.“I grew into it step by step,” she said in a 2001 interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. “When my son was old enough, my husband and myself decided I should get involved professionally. That’s why I completed -- I must correct myself -- was privileged to complete, an apprenticeship with my husband, which was excellent.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • Sports
    Yahoo Sport UK

    Trump: I'm happy to take a backseat and leave World Championship headlines to the final week

    Judd Trump battled through to the World Snooker Championship quarter-finals but had a message for early headline-maker Ronnie O’Sullivan - don’t peak too early, writes Will Jennings.

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