Monday, August 06, 2018


Monday morning, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo addressed the NRA's lawsuit against New York State and condemned the organization's "Carry Guard" insurance during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe with Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough and John Heilemann. The Governor today sent a letter calling on other governors to follow New York's lead and block the sale of the NRA's "Carry Guard" program, which provides liability insurance to gun owners for certain acts of intentional wrongdoing. The Governor issued the letter as part of a national effort to block the program after a state investigation found that the program was illegal under New York State law, leading to penalties against insurance companies involved. On Friday, New York State filed a motion to dismiss an NRA lawsuit against New York that suggested the state's actions were a threat to "the NRA's corporate existence and its advocacy mission."

A transcript of the interview is available after the jump.

Mika Brzezinski: Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the state was moving to dismissal lawsuit the NRA filed in federal court in May, which accused state officials of black listing them by preventing financial institutions and insurers in New York from doing business with the group. The NRA told NPR if insurers remain afraid to transact with the NRA, there is a substantial risk that NRA TV will be forced to cease operating, and the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, joins us now. Thank you very much, Governor. I understand there's a little bit of a delay here, but we'll get through it. Are you black listing the NRA?

Governor Cuomo: No. What happened Mika is, as you know, states regulate the insurance industry within that state, and we have a law in New York that says you cannot insure someone for an intentional bad act. 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. The insurance company that was providing the product paid a fine. They signed a consent order. They're no longer selling the product. The NRA was the broker on the product essentially, and they were making a commission. They're no longer making the commission, but they were selling an illegal product, you know. I don't have a lot of sympathy for a group that says, well, I've lost the revenue from now being disabled from selling that illegal product. You know, that's - they don't get a lot of sympathy from me in general, Mika, but here they clearly broke the law. 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. I believe they don't want any progress on gun reform because it would put them out of business. The majority of gun owners in this country support reasonable gun control, background checks, etcetera, and I think the NRA frustrates any progress just so they have a business line to further.

Joe Scarborough: So, I don't understand, Governor. When I was reading these stories over the past several days that the NRA claims it is in a financial crisis and may be facing bankruptcy because of some issues that they're having in the state of New York. I don't really understand that considering they still give millions of dollars to people that promote their agenda on Capitol Hill. So are we just talking about a reorganization that would prevent them from being liable in any possible legal lawsuits? When they say they may be facing bankruptcy, what exactly does that mean?

Governor Cuomo: No Joe, I'm with you. I think it is a frivolous lawsuit. I don't even know their point. I am sure they lost revenue from losing the sale of this insurance product. I did not know that it was such a significant portion of their revenue. I'm not sure that it is, by the way, but they're crying poverty. Now, it is true that they rely on the money because the way they bully the politicians, Joe, as you know, we have both seen it - they need millions of dollars to run those ads to keep the politicians in line. And they're saying that the loss of this insurance product is going to make a significant dent on their coffers. Now, I don't know if that's true or not true, but look, from my point of view I do disagree with them politically. And if they have less money to bully and threaten politicians into irrational positions, you know, I'm not going to lose any sleep over that. And if they went away, I would offer my thoughts and prayers, Joe, just like they do every time we have another situation of innocents losing their lives - 154 mass shootings this year. The nation is paralyzed. We're doing nothing. No reasonable reform that we know we could agree to if you didn't have politicians scared to death of the NRA.

John Heilemann: Hey, Governor. John Heilemann here. I want to ask a question in a broader scale. It seems the action you are taking and the effect you are having, you are fighting a guerilla campaign and I mean guerilla in terms of guerilla warfare against the NRA. I wonder if you think if you are successful, and if you do at whatever level, make kind of a dent in the NRA, whether this provides a blueprint to ways in which other states can chip away at the NRA's power. Or, on the other hand, whether the only way to really take the NRA down is on the national level?

Governor Cuomo: Well, it is a good question, John. You know, I think they have shown a vulnerability here, frankly, that I didn't see. When they said that loss of this insurance product is going to make such a significant difference on their revenues. I am now reaching out to the other states because I believe this insurance product is going to be illegal from a public policy point of view in most states, and now that the NRA said this is a major source of revenue, I'm going to pursue it nationwide. It wasn't a guerilla attack. Look, I think these guys are bad guys. And it started from the Clinton Administration with the safe act that could have done great work that the gun manufacturers supported until the NRA came in and literally pressured the gun manufacturers not to make an arrangement. I passed the best gun control law in the nation five years ago called the SAFE Act. They demonized me. The SAFE Act does everything we're trying to do today, everything. Mental health database, assault weapons, etcetera. And you know what? Five years later, hunters still have their guns, legal owners have guns, there was no slippery slope, and the NRA hates that. They hate letting people know that you could actually have reasonable gun control that most gun owners support. But if we're not willing to take them on, we'll never get anywhere on this problem. I mean I was there. I know the dynamic in Washington. The republicans are afraid of the NRA, period. The president after the Parkland shooting did that briefing in the White House conference room where he was asking very reasonable questions. "Why don't we raise the purchase age? Why do we really need young people with assault weapons?" He met with the NRA and did a 180 the next day. They're afraid of the NRA and that's why we're doing absolutely nothing.
Joe Scarborough: Alright, Governor Andrew Cuomo, thank you so much for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
Governor Cuomo: Thank for having me, Joe, Mika.

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