Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oops, they did it again

Those Veteran's charities; they're just a hoot! In an earlier posting late last year, I suggested we name 'em and shame 'em, those veteran's organizations who keep alot more of their donations than they give to the vets. There was alot of attention in the media with this pathetic and shameful news that lasted more than one news cycle. It makes my heart go pitter pat when I hear that House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpeonas the bad guys and gives them their place in the spotlight. Rep Henry Waxman, D- CA, who heads the Oversight Committee has been a busy, busy man since the leadership in the House changed.

Let's turn the spotlight on Roger Chapin. This Chapin guy is no prize. He is the president of Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation. He thinks that only 25% of the $168 million is good enough for those vets. That's 25% benefits to the veterans, 75% costs in his pocket. Mr Chapin had declined an invitation to appear voluntarily at a December Congressional hearing, forcing the committee to subpoena him. The egregiously bad management of the donations received by the good people of the USA who authentically wanted to support the troops is indefensible. Even though Chapin had excuses aplenty, I don't know how he could testify with a straight face. Fortune online reports
-HHV loaned $135,000 to its longtime executive director, Mike Lynch, to help him finance a divorce settlement. Chapin said the money was repaid with interest.

--HHV paid $17,000 a year for a country club membership. Chapin defended that as a valid expense.

--Chapin billed HHV $630 for Christmas Eve 2004 air travel for his wife and himself to Hawaii. He told the committee that it was a mistake and that he later repaid the funds.

--In 2001, $500,000 donated to HHV ended up going to other Chapin nonprofits focusing on cancer, Alzheimer's disease and drug-free youth. Chapin did not address this during his testimony.

--HHV loaned $1 million to the direct-mail company of Richard Viguerie, the well-known conservative political operative responsible for much of Chapin's direct mail. Both Chapin and Viguerie said that Viguerie couldn't get a loan from commercial lenders, and that it was later repaid. HHV also paid Viguerie's companies $14 million from 2000 to 2005 for direct-mail solicitations. Chapin said Viguerie was able to succeed where others failed.
And shame on Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah. Coming to the defense of this wolf in sheep's clothing, this long time representative from Utah said "I'm deeply concerned that we're whacking on groups that are supporting the military,". Say what? Giving 25% of the money donated to support the troops and pocketing 75% for yourself is supporting the troops? Oh yeah, I forgot, there's an "R" behind this Representative's name. Double shame!

Check out Chris Cannon's website where he talks about how "Chris Cares" about the military. Im surprised I didn't vomit. No wonder he is so busy supporting this jerk, Chapin. (misspellings courtesy of Rep Cannon's webmaster)

As America's brave men and women continue to fight in the global war on
terror, the majority has sought to do everythign they can to stifle their efforts. Unable to garner enough votes to cut and run, unable to garner enough votes to defund the war, and unable to garner enough votes to pull troops out, they have now begun to find ways to derail the mission using resolutions and attacking private companies working in Iraq. These attacks have also fallen on us in Congress who have steadfastly defended our men and women in uniform and those who risk their lives in Iraq outside of the Government. I hope to provide a better account of my votes and my positions on Operation Iraqi Freedom and issues that have arisen subsequent to the invasion. As always, I welcome your input (both positive and negative) and you can contact my office at any time to share your thoughts.
Even though Rep Cannon has been a member of Congress since 1996, his website says The Cannon record on the Iraq war is coming soon..... Oh really? I guess nearly 5 years into the war is too early to post anything definitive about his stand on the war. My condolences to the good people of the 3rd Congressional District of Utah for having to put up with his pathetic self.

But back to the man of the hour, and let's shame another. Chapin confirmed a Forbes report last month that he paid retired Gen. Tommy Franks a one-shot $100,000, and another retired general, Arthur F. (Chip) Diehl III, $5,000 a month, for use of their names in direct-mail pitches. Several panelists asked pointedly why this was not disclosed in the solicitation. Chapin said Franks later withdrew permission to use his name after, among other things, one of his relatives complained about receiving repeat mailings.

Gen Tommy Franks accepted $100,000 to be a spokesmodel for an organization purporting to support veteran's? Where did he think this $100,000 was going to come from? General Arthur Diehl isn't any better at $5,000 a month. I can only imagine how many soldiers would have been helped with that kind of money. And these Generals call themselves soldiers? Please! Mercifully, General Franks has since distanced himself from Chapin's organizations.

The Army Times reports that lawmakers pushed Chapin and two executives of fundraising companies on the question of whether solicitations should disclose information about the percentage of donations that a group spends on fundraising. By far, the best exchange of the 3 hour hearing was this response to that question. "If we disclose, we'd be out of business," Chapin said. "Your words are wonderful, because if the public knew, they wouldn't donate," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. Touche'! If you want to hear the testimony, go here.

I'm sick of all these so called advocacy or charitable organizations who say they support the troops. It couldn't be further from the truth and these bad guys ruin it for those good organizations who do not profit off the veterans.

If you donate to veteran's organizations, PLEASE check the numerous organizations who do diligence on the veracity of the work they do.

p.s. Happy birthday to Sgt Adam Estep, who would have been 27 today, if not for George Bush's war. He was KIA in Iraq on 4.29.04. Hugs to you Carrie & Ken!


Anonymous said...

I had the honor of attending an event held by one of these charities. I can tell you without a doubt that the money donated to these charities IS helping wounded soldiers find happiness, peace of mind, confidence and strength. I even heard that they are keeping families together!! I heard it straight from hundreds of soldiers and their wives, children and parents that said without the support of these charities, they might not know where they'd be today.

It concerns me greatly that by damaging the reputations of these charities, we will inadvertently cause greater damage in the lives of these brave veterans.

Why are lawmakers pointing the finger at charities when if they REALLY wanted to help veterans, they would pass legislation to do so? After all, they are the ones that sent these brave souls to war in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gold Star Mom,
I can understand the depth of your
sorrow (been there, done that)
But your bitterness and bias are
showing! I am SICK that Obama won
because of mostly bitter people like you.
Can't you find something better to do?
Another mom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. Was looking to see if the request by General Chip Diehl was a scam and found your comment. Perhaps worse than a scam, like a sighted person getting a white cane and sunglasses to panhandle, charities that are about profit for the owners and tips for the recipients.
While I don't know what to think about our military conflicts, I do want to thank you and your son for his service. I pray you can find peace. Hopefully you and others can get the word out to support the organizations that are supporting those in need, without taking most of the money to support themselves and their friends under the disguise of non-profit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gold Star Mom. These scams make me sick