Ford wants a federal bankruptcy court to seize cars it is leasing to the NRA due to concerns that the beleaguered gun group will not make payments.
After the gun group missed its January payments, the car company's credit arm asked the federal court handling the NRA's bankruptcy to force the group to cancel its leases. Ford said the missed payments indicate the NRA may not be able to keep up with the leases.
"Ford does not have and [the NRA] is not able to offer adequate protection of Ford's interest in the vehicle[s]," the company said in its filing on Wednesday.
Pat Neligan, the NRA's bankruptcy counsel, said the filing is "typical" for car companies and the group had been current on the payments before it filed for bankruptcy which allows some protections for missed payments in the short term. "The NRA will continue to comply with the Bankruptcy Code in its ongoing operations," he told the Washington Free Beacon.
The move by Ford shows one of the dangers of the NRA's bankruptcy strategy. While the gun-rights group has publicly assured donors and creditors it plans to pay its debts in full, not all of its creditors believe it. If successful, Ford's attempt to reclaim its cars will put a dent in the fleet of cars the group uses for NRA executives and field team members.
Ford wants leases for two 2017 Ford Expeditions and a 2018 Ford Explorer revoked, and the cars returned immediately. One of the 2017 Ford Expeditions, listed among the NRA's 71-car fleet and costing $799.91 a month, was assigned to Wayne LaPierre's special assistant. The other 2017 Expedition cost the group $910.49 a month while the 2018 Ford Explorer cost it $595.07 a month.
Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's managing director of public affairs, said the group leases cars for employees who are required to travel for work.
"In some circumstances, NRA professionals who conduct a significant amount of work in the field may use a vehicle leased by the organization," he said. "As a national organization, the NRA naturally makes these accommodations for professionals who travel frequently in support of membership events, NRA Foundation activities, and gun safety programs."
The NRA entered federal bankruptcy in an effort to move its charter from New York to Texas and gain some protection for its assets while it fights an attempt by New York attorney general Letitia James (D.) to dissolve the group over accusations of financial impropriety. Experts have described the move as a "Hail Mary" with significant pitfalls. Along with Ford's attempt to reclaim some NRA vehicles, disgruntled NRA donors have asked for the group's leadership to be removed by the court, and James has requested the case be thrown out as an "end run" around her prosecution.
NRA leadership has continued to project confidence in the bankruptcy plan and argued it will ultimately prevail in its litigation with James. This week they filed a countersuit against her in state court, repeating the claim that James is violating the group's First Amendment rights and prosecuting it for political reasons the group made in a similar suit filed in federal court in August.
The next hearing in the bankruptcy case will be held on March 4.