Governor Cuomo has been on a media blitz since he announced, on Friday, that the state is moving to dismiss a lawsuit by the NRA. The suit claims that state officials are blacklisting the NRA and infringing on their First Amendment rights, cutting off a source of funding by blocking insurers from working with the gun-rights organizations. Cuomo has gleefully responded to these accusations in official statements, tweets, and now on cable-news.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 4, 2018
"They are right that I have been a long-term political opponent of the NRA. It went back to my time in the federal government with the Clinton Administration. I believe they are an extremist organization," Cuomo said on MSNBC today. He repeated the statement on CNN, and said "The NRA has always been against any progress whatsoever. They're oblivious to the facts. They've caused carnage in this nation."
A big part of this lawsuit is the insurance program Carry Guard, which the NRA started last year. It covers legal fees and liabilities from self-defense shootings. In April, Cuomo directed the state's Department of Financial Services to "review relationships with the NRA."
"DFS urges all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York to join the companies that have already discontinued their arrangements with the NRA, and to take prompt actions to manage these risks and promote public health and safety," said Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo in a statement.
The NRA filed its original lawsuit in response to this directive. Then in May, DFS fined the two insurance companies that supported the NRA's Carry Guard program in New York State, Chubb and Lockton, more than $8 million. The NRA argued that this action amounted to discrimination against the organization.
Vullo responded to the suit by categorizing Carry Guard as "unlawfully provided liability insurance to gun owners for acts of intentional wrongdoing."
"You can't insure someone for breaking the law, and this insurance product was called 'carry guard.' It was designed for people who carry weapons, and it basically insured them for an intentional bad act. The expression was murder insurance," Cuomo said this morning on MSNBC.
"If the NRA is unable to collect donations from its members, safeguard the assets endowed to it, apply its funds to cover media buys and other expenses integral to its political speech, and obtain basic corporate insurance coverage, it will be unable to exist as a not-for-profit or pursue its advocacy mission," reads the NRA lawsuit.
It's unclear how much New York State's actions will affect the NRA's finances. NPR noted "the NRA enjoyed record fundraising success after the Florida shooting" in Parkland. But according to a Marketwatch story from March, the NRA's latest financial filing "is pockmarked with accounting red flags," it holds $43 million in short-term debt and a pension liability of $40 million.
Cuomo's strategy to publicly feud with the NRA falls in line with his recent efforts to appeal to more liberal voters as the Cynthia Nixon campaign gains ground. In Upstate New York, there is much more support for the NRA, even though some Democrats are trying to change that culture. In the latest Quinnipiac and Sienna polls, Cuomo has a 30+ point lead over Nixon in state overall. Upstate, his lead shrinks considerably.