Veterans Charities: Two under investigation, and one that gives 100% to veterans
There's a rash of this going around apparently, as I am getting a ton of emails on it.
First, in California, via the LA Times:
California's attorney general filed a civil lawsuit against a Riverside County charity that raises money to support programs for military veterans and active-duty personnel, particularly for those hospitalized with war wounds.
Help Hospitalized Veterans has used much of its donations for lavish salaries and pensions, self-dealing business relationships and loans, and perks such as $80,000 in golf memberships and use of a condominium, Atty. Gen.Kamala D. Harrissaid in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Riverside County Superior Court.
It's interesting that it is a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one. Fraud would of course be a criminal complaint. More from that article:
The suit requests the recovery of $4.3 million that was allegedly diverted illegally, as well as removal of several officers and board members of the charity based in the Riverside County community of Winchester.
"We must protect veterans, active-duty military and donors from scam artists who see them as little more than prey for their financial frauds," Harris said.
And all the way accross the country, the same sort of thing is happening in Massachusetts, via Wicked Local:
The Attorney General’s office is suing a local veterans charity and its professional fundraisers for allegedly using deceptive tactics in violation of state laws.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Bay State Vietnam Veterans Inc. and its Rhode Island-based fundraiser, Dynamic Marketing Solutions Inc., violated the Massachusetts charitable solicitation and consumer protection laws during a phone solicitation campaign.
The suit alleges that during phone solicitations, Dynamic’s fundraisers deceived potential donors by falsely stating that 100 percent of their donations would benefit veterans, while only about 15 percent of the solicited funds went to support veterans and about 85 percent of the funds went back to Dynamic for their fundraising services.
According to the organization’s 2011 filing with the Attorney General’s office, the group raised $460,081 in 2011, with just $69,012 going to the charity.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with these cases. Obviously until more proof comes out there is no way of knowing where the funds went. I'm not the biggest fan of the way Charity Navigator rates their stuff because some of the criteria seem a little odd. But clearly if the AG's office is expending funds going after these groups then they at least thing that where there's smoke there is fire.
But, one charity that takes zero funds for overhead, salaries or anything else is the Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors which just did an event down at Six Flags in Texas. All the background work for the program comes from Legion folks, both volunteers and those paid for by regular salary which comes from a completely seperate account.
As we made note in the article on this event,
"The American Legion showed our young OIF and OEF veterans that we really care about them," said Butch Sparks, a past commander of the Department of Texas. "There might be an age gap between World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans and these veterans today. But we want them to know that we are glad to have them as part of our family."
All administrative and operating costs for Operation Comfort Warriors are paid by The American Legion’s National Headquarters, meaning 100 percent of donated funds go directly to purchasing items for the troops.
For more on Operation Comfort Warriors, you can go to THIS LINK.