Maria Vullo, the former superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, is appealing a decision by a federal judge that says she is not entitled to qualified immunity after fining several companies that sold or underwrote “carry guard” policies because it is unclear whether she threatened the companies that business with the National Rifle Association (NRA), reports the Courthouse News Service. Meant to protect owners sued after using their gun in self-defense, Carry Guard is marketed by the NRA and other gun advocates as insurance coverage, but Vullo said the coverage extends to individuals who were found to have used a gun with criminal intent.
The NRA sued Vullo and the state the following year when three companies that provide the Carry Guard program entered into consent orders with New York admitting the insurance product violated state law and together paid more than $13 million in penalties. The NRA said during that time Vullo made “backchannel threats” to insurers and banks to sever ties to the NRA and claims she told one insurer that the Department of Financial Services would be less interested in pursuing regulatory infractions in the affinity-insurance marketplace if they ended their relationship with the organization. Vullo’s attorney Andrew Celli Jr. said the NRA’s allegations are not plausible because none of the discovery conducted to date has unearthed any statement by Vullo made that was coercive and argued that government officials should not have to second-guess their decisions for fear of deep-pocketed organizations like banks or the NRA suing them for money damages.