AGs and the Charitable Sector: News Archive
New York Plans Charity Law Reform to Cut Red Tape, April 26, 2011
New York Plans Charity Law Reform to Cut Red Tape
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced earlier this week that his office is forming a multi-agency working group aimed at developing comprehensive proposals to aid in reforming charities laws and regulations. The working group, comprised of labor representatives, government agencies and state and local non profits will work to provide recommendations for reform to Schneiderman’s Office, the agency primarily responsible for regulating charities in New York. "We can be as tough or tougher on policing fraud without imposing unnecessary burdens," Schneiderman said. "But in hard economic times, we can't afford to force (charities) to spend 15 or 20 percent of their resources on compliance costs."
Boston Nonprofits Asked for Voluntary Payments, April 24, 2011
The city of Boston, Massachusetts is asking for voluntary payments from tax-exempt institutions, including hospitals, universities and cultural centers. City officials mailed letters asking nonprofits to pay up to 25% of what they would have to pay if their properties were not tax-exempt. Boston hopes to increase tax-exempt institutions’ payments to the city from $15M to $48 over five years. Officials say the plan is necessary to cover the rising costs of basic city services such as police and fire protection when $13.6 billion in property (more than half the city’s commercial tax base) is tax-exempt. A number of nonprofit leaders, including Boston University President Robert A. Brown and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center President and CEO Eric Buehrens, support the initiative on the grounds that the money is needed to make the city safe and well-managed during a time of great financial strain.
Montana Attorney General Opens Inquiry into Charity Run by 'Three Cups of Tea' Co-author, April 20, 2011
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has announced that he is scrutinizing the charity run by “Three Cups of Tea” co-author Greg Mortenson, after allegations arose regarding inaccuracies in the book and misspending by the organization, Central Asia Institute. The book - in which Mortenson describes becoming lost while hiking in the mountains of rural Pakistan, stumbling upon the village of Korphe and helping to build a school there - was published in 2006 and has helped raise nearly $50 million for the Institute. The television program “60 Minutes” and author Jon Krakauer allege that Mortenson’s story contains falsehoods and that Mortenson has used Institute funds for personal expenses and for advertising and marketing his book. Citing his Office’s responsibility to ensure that charitable assets are used for their intended purpose, AG Bullock announced that he is as yet only “looking into” the issue and has not announced a full scale investigation of the charity.
California Attorney General Office?s Investigation Leads to $400,000 Repayment of Salary Paid from Charity to Dodgers VP, April 19, 2011
California Attorney General Office’s Investigation Leads to $400,000 Repayment of Salary Paid from Charity to Dodgers VP
A recent investigation directed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris has forced the repayment of $400,000 paid to LA Dodgers executive Howard Sunkin in 2007. The salary paid to the current Vice President of Public Affairs was revealed to have come directly from the team’s charity, the Dodgers Dream Foundation, and reportedly accounted for one-fourth of the Foundation’s 2007 budget.
California Attorney General suses Funeral Trust, Says $14M Diverted, April 18, 2011
California Attorney General sues funeral trust, says $14M diverted
California State Attorney General Kamala Harris has sued the California Master Trust, one of the nation's largest funeral trust funds, claiming it diverted $14 million intended saved by consumers for cemetery plots, caskets and services. According to Attorney General Harris, the trust used the money to pay its administrators excessive fees, and $4.6 million in illegal kickbacks to the 300 funeral homes that participate in the trust. AG Harris has asked the court to issue an injunction to stop the alleged illegal practices, and to order the trust to pay back the $14 million with interest. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs' Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, which regulates the funeral industry.
Massachusetts Attorney General Determines Pay for Non-Profit Board Members Unjustified, April 14, 2011
Massachusetts Attorney General Determines Pay for Non-Profit Board Members Unjustified
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced plans to file legislation outlawing public charities in Massachusetts from compensating directors. Coakley’s review of the state's four largest nonprofit health insurers found “no justification” for the payment of compensation to board members. Since the review began, several insurance providers (including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest insurer) announced that they would suspend such compensation. According to Coakley, the four organizations under review, which enjoy tax and other benefits provided to nonprofits, were given the opportunity to present rationales for paying directors, but failed to do so. The insurers had claimed previously that board compensation is necessary considering the large amount of time and effort directors devote to highly complex issues. Coakley’s proposed legislation would bar nonprofits from paying board members unless they receive special permission from her office. Coakley will additionally begin publishing annual reports detailing any payments given to charitable board members and the rationale behind these payments.
What's a Donor to Do When Nonprofits Do Wrong?, April 12, 2011
What’s a Donor to Do When Nonprofits Do Wrong?
In light of recent embarrassments involving high-profile nonprofits such as Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, and Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, this article examines what recourse donors have when they believe that the recipient of a gift has acted inappropriately. Unrestricted gifts offer the least options to donors, as the money may be spent by the recipient for any lawful purpose. If the gift is restricted – as to what the money may be spent on or how much may be expended each year – there is more potential for recourse, although most states do not bestow standing on such donors unless an enforcement mechanism is included in documentation establishing the gift. Connecticut is the strictest in terms of granting standing to such parties, while New York is the most generous. According to David Leibell, a partner at the law firm Wiggin and Dana, inclusion in the gift instrument of a “gift-over” is almost always effective. A gift-over establishes that if the recipient violates restrictions in the gift instrument, the gift is then transferred to another charity for use for the same purposes and with the same restrictions. Liebell additionally recommends including provisions that allow enforcement of the gift restrictions by the donor’s descendants.
Oregon Senate Passes Bill On Charitable Donations, April 11, 2011
Oregon Senate Passes Bill On Charitable Donations
The Oregon Senate passed a bill on April 11 that would make ineligible for tax deduction any charitable donations to organizations that spend more than seventy percent of their money on administration and fundraising. The State Attorney General’s office maintains a list of charities that spend as little as 10 percent of their money on services. Portland Democrat Senator Ginny Burdick, stated “[T]his is not a good enough ratio in my opinion for someone to give money to an organization, but at least it will allow the attorney general to move against the worst of the worst.” The bill passed in the Senate on a vote of 28 to 2 and will next go to the Oregon House of Representatives.
Check legitimacy of charities at Michigan website, April 6, 2011
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has launched an online searchable database that assists consumers in evaluating the legitimacy of charities in the state, and allows charities to monitor the status of their yearly registration. Information provided on the site, www.michigan.gov/AGCharitySearch, is gathered from reports filed with the state by charities and their fundraisers. Data provided includes whether a charity is registered to solicit donations in Michigan, its charitable purpose, when and where it was created, and its contact information. “We want to help citizens make informed choices by providing access to recent information about charities they are considering supporting,” Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.
Bring Donors Out of the Shadows, April 3, 2011
Bring Donors Out of the Shadows
In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, David Callahan, a senior fellow at non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization Demos, argues that all nonprofit organizations that engage in political advocacy should be required to reveal their donors. Although individuals are required to disclose on their tax returns large gifts to charitable organizations - known as 501(c)(3)’s for the federal tax code section that applies to them - the IRS keeps this information private. Wealthy individuals may also hide their identities by giving through donor-advised funds rather than foundations, which are required to report their gifts. Finally, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, wealthy individuals are able to donate unlimited amounts of money to groups engaging directly in partisan political activity, called 501(c)(4)’s. Callahan notes that many organizations have both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) arms that work in concert to pursue a particular agenda, and provides as an example Freedom Works, an organization that is closely linked to the Tea Party political movement and heavily funded by the Koch Brothers. He also argues that the law needs to make finer distinctions between the types of nonprofits, instead of treating donations for medical research or arts programs the same as gifts to ideologically driven political organizations.
Private Foundations in Transition, Part 1: Governance Issues in 2011 and Beyond, March/April 2011
Private Foundations in Transition, Part 1: Governance Issues in 2011 and Beyond, 25 Probate & Property 22 (March/April 2011)
This is the first article in a two-part series, based on a presentation made at the 2010 American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Spring Symposia, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Part 1 provides a broad overview of private foundation governance. Part 2, to be published in the magazine's May/June issue, will highlight current developments and offer specific suggestions for best governance practices. Although there are fewer than 100,000 private foundations in the United States, they collectively hold assets in excess of $ 533 billion. For this reason alone, private foundations attract the attention of the government, the public, and the media. It is critically important that those individuals who fund or operate private foundations and their advisors work together to adopt and implement governance policies that reflect federal and state mandates and the best thinking of the charitable sector itself. This article addresses formation considerations, including the corporate form versus trust form, grant-making versus operating private foundations, the mission statement, and the role of the board Congress, IRS, the States, and the Charitable Sector.
Phillipsburg Horse Rescue Group Trustees Accused of Defrauding Donors Ordered to Pay Up, March 25, 2011
Phillipsburg Horse Rescue Group Trustees Accused of Defrauding Donors Ordered to Pay Up
The New Jersey Attorney General has ordered Phillipsburg-based horse rescue charity NJ Horse Angels to shut down and repay more than $50,000 in vacations, shopping and expenses funneled to the organization’s two trustees, Sharon Catalano-Crumb and Frank Wikoff. The organization, which was not registered in the state as a charity, solicited more than $145,000 in donations between September 2009 and September 2010, ostensibly to save horses from being killed and processed into pet food. In settling a lawsuit filed last December by the state Division of Consumer Affairs, Catalano-Crumb and Wikoff must pay back about $57,129 in misspent funds and $23,299 in investigative costs and more than $500,000 in civil penalties if they violate the terms of the settlement. The Consumer Affairs Division will donate the funds to registered horse rescue organizations.
Alabama Judge Allows Charitable Bingo Halls to Reopen in Jefferson County, March 25, 2011
Alabama Judge Allows Charitable Bingo Halls to Reopen in Jefferson County
A judge in Jefferson County Alabama has granted permission for charity bingo halls to reopen until further hearings are held to determine the legality of the bingo machines being used. Judge Eugene Verin initially enjoined the county sheriff and local district attorney not to interfere with the bingo halls operation, but dissolved the injunction after Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange intervened on the sheriff’s behalf. Attorney General Strange argued that the all law enforcement agencies should have the authority to enforce state gambling laws. Strange also emphasized that the Attorney General’s office would itself pursue all necessary and proper law enforcement action against those who would attempt to open an illegal slot machine operation under the cover of a bingo hall.
Charges of Neglect Bring Review by New York State Officials, March 18, 2011
Charges of Neglect Bring Review by New York State Officials
The New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau has announced that it is reviewing complaints against the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, one of the largest private organizations in the world dedicated to caring for former racehorses. The complaints allege fiscal irresponsibility and improper care of horses resulting in often fatal malnutrition and neglect, which was confirmed by inspection reports. The Foundation has run deficits for the last two years and owes more than $103,000 to the farms to which the Foundation has assigned retired horses. Concurrent with the Attorney General’s investigation, the A.S.P.C.A. has announced that it is pulling its funding for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, to which it gave $175,000 last year.
Animal Charity That Solicited on Facebook Accused of Pocketing Funds, March 19, 2011
Animal Charity That Solicited on Facebook Accused of Pocketing Funds
Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie has filed a lawsuit against alleged charity Love the Animals. The lawsuits alleges that Love the Animals’ operator, Anthony Marasia, put all funds donated to the organization into his personal bank account, did not inform donors that contributions were not tax deductible, and failed to register as a charity. Marasia claims that he never presented himself as a charity or other official organization, but rather only as an individual who wished to help animals in need. He claims that he repeatedly told donors that donations were not tax-deductible and that Love the Animals was not yet a registered 501(c)(3). The lawsuit, which follows a five-month investigation, seeks information on how donated funds were used, restitution for consumers and penalties.
New York State Senator's Charity Ties Being Investigated, March 17, 2011
NY State Senator's Charity Ties Being Investigated
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating two state-funded educational nonprofit organizations and their connections to state legislator Sen. Shirley Huntley, a Queens Democrat and former community school board president. Parent Information Network Inc., which lists Huntley's daughter Pamala Corley as chairwoman, received $401,500 from the state between 1996 to 2008 to advise parents on how to navigate New York City schools. Huntley herself designated $155,000 to a second organization, Parent Workshop Inc. of Queens, between 2008 and 2010. Patricia Savage, who was listed in 2007 tax filings as president of Parent Workshop, and Corley both received payments from Huntley for campaign expenses in connection with the most recent election, including a cell phone, refreshments, and $37,300 paid to Corley for campaign workers. Schneiderman, a democrat and former state senator, promised in his campaign for attorney general that he would not hesitate to investigate former colleagues where such investigation was warranted.
Not-so-giving Charities Would be Punished Under Proposed Bill in Oregon Legislature, March 16, 2010
Not-so-giving Charities Would be Punished Under Proposed Bill in Oregon Legislature
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger is pushing for a law that would require charities in the state to spend at least 30 percent of their annual budget on services. If an organization failed to do so, donations to the entity would not be tax-deductible for the donor. According to Kroger, the bill would address a major problem documented in the Oregon Attorney General’s yearly report on the state’s 20 “worst” charities, which raise approximately $56 million each year but spend less than 25 percent on services. The new legislation would apply to charities with annual revenue greater than $200,000 – averaged over three years and determined by a review of Internal Revenue Service filings – and would subject charities to fines of up to $25,000 per violation.
Powerful New York pro-choice activist investigated for financial misconduct, Feb. 16, 2011
Powerful New York Pro-Choice Activist Investigated for Financial Misconduct
Kelli Conlin, the president of NARAL Pro Choice New York, resigned last month after an audit revealed allegations of extensive financial misconduct during her tenure. According to the audit, Conlin used NARAL credit cards for numerous personal expenses, including high-end clothing, a summer rental in the Hamptons, and up to $100,000 on a car service to drop her children off at their Manhattan school. Questions are now being raised as to what government agency can investigate Conlin without creating a conflict of interest. Conlin actively campaigned for Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schniederman’s father is a NARAL board member, and Conlin actively supported Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance during his election in 2009.
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger sues Oregon War Veterans Association, Military Family Support Foundation and founder Gregory Warnock, Feb. 16, 2011
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger Sues Oregon War Veterans Association, Military Family Support Foundation and Founder Gregory Warnock
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has announced a lawsuit against the founder of two charities and his organizations for allegedly illegally diverting money raised on behalf of veterans. The lawsuit charges Gregory Warnock of taking more than $690,000 raised by the Oregon War Veterans Association and the Military Family Support Foundation, and of using the charitable donations to make unreported political contributions. Specifically, AG Kroger alleges that Warnock falsely claimed that Military Family Support had been granted charitable status by the IRS and that donations to it were tax-deductible. The AG’s complaint is part of a larger Kroger campaign to stop charities that keep most of the money they raise and crack down on non-profits and fundraisers that fraudulently claim to help U.S. veterans.
I.R.S. Takes on Tax Abuse by Charity Support Groups, Feb. 14, 2011
I.R.S. Takes on Tax Abuse by Charity Support Groups
In the last five years, the Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax exemption of 72 groups, known as supporting organizations, which are essentially fronts for philanthropies created to support specific charities. Among the problems the I.R.S. found were supporting organizations that were created as tools in financial planning programs that allowed donors take a tax deduction, and then get their supposed charitable donation back through offshore investments or interest-free loans to relatives. Congress ordered revisions to the regulations governing supporting organizations in the 2006 Pension Protection Act, effectively applying some of the rules that govern private foundations to prevent private benefit. The law focused particularly on Type III supporting organizations, which, unlike Type I and Type II organizations, are not controlled by the charity they were created to support and may support any nonprofit organization. One provision requires the Treasury Department to establish a mandatory payout rate for Type III organizations to make sure they are actually giving money to charity. The Treasury has proposed a payout rate of 5 percent of assets, which is the rate required of private foundations, but the American Bar Association and others are challenging that recommendation, seeking a lower rate.
Pennsylvania Catholic Hospital Group Announces Sale to For-Profit Company, Feb. 11, 2011
Pennsylvania Catholic Hospital Group Announces Sale to For-Profit Company
Pennsylvania catholic hospital system Mercy Health Partners’ has announced that it will be purchased by for-profit Community Health Systems Inc. (CHS), pending review by the State Attorney General and courts, as well by the Vatican. The sale would include three hospitals and a number of outpatient facilities employing more than 1,700 people, and comes four months after Mercy Health Partners President and CEO Kevin Cook revealed that the hospital system was looking for a buyer amid struggles to generate sufficient revenue to break even and make necessary capital investments. CHS, which already owns ten hospitals in the state, has agreed, as part of the sale, to invest at least $68 million in the health facilities and to donate $2 million to create a new foundation that will promote community wellness. Mercy employees and SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania had expressed concerns about a potential sale to CHS, because of the company's history with union members at another hospital, Wilkes-Barre General, and because of questions regarding Mercy's ability to retain its Catholic affiliation if it is sold to a for-profit company.
New Hampshire AG's Office Slams Town Youth Football League, Feb. 9, 2011
New Hampshire AG's Office Slams Town Youth Football League
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has placed the Milford Mustangs Youth Football Program on a strict timeline to reform its governance practices. The AG Office's Charitable Trusts Unit released a report on the Mustangs Program concluding that while there was no evidence of embezzlement or other financial wrongdoing, the organization has “weak internal controls and systems" that "provide an opportunity for misuse of funds to occur.” The AG Office’s investigation into the Mustangs was initiated by multiple complaints from parents regarding the financial health of the program and the inability of participants to obtain waivers to join another team. Specifically, the report criticized the board’s policies, including a lack of term limits for board members, and its arbitrary process for determining which names appear on the ballot and which participants are awarded scholarships and waivers to play elsewhere. The board has until April to establish an independent advisory committee, until June to change its election procedures, until July to attend training for board directors and until May to outline previous bylaws changes and implement changes to how scholarships and waivers are granted to players.
Massachusetts Nonprofits Want Off Charity Website, Feb. 6, 2011
Massachusetts Nonprofits Want Off Charity Website
Several Massachusetts nonprofits have complained to the public charities’ division of the State Attorney General’s office regarding a California-based website’s unauthorized use of their names and information. The website, Charity Blossom, maintains a directory of registered nonprofits and solicits visitors to make “pledges” of donations to these organizations. After pledging, visitors are directed to outside websites where payment can be made. Although Charity Blossom does not directly collect donations, the Massachusetts nonprofits object to the solicitation made without their approval or oversight. “We have a great interest in keeping our name squeaky clean,’’ said Eric Cody, president of one of the complaining nonprofits, Friends of the Ellisville Marshes. “We don’t use outside fund-raisers. We have raised $80,000 without hiring anybody. We do not give a penny away. We do not pay a finder’s fee.’’ The nonprofits allege that Charity Blossom generated its database in part by downloading the names of all the registered tax-exempt groups in the country from the Internal Revenue Service.
Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli?s Opinion Brings Bad News for Charities, Jan. 29, 2011
Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli’s Opinion Brings Bad News for Charities
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli III has issued an opinion concluding that the State’s constitution does not permit giving public money to private charities. The Virginia Constitution prohibits the General Assembly from making “any appropriation of public funds, personal property, or real estate . . . to any charitable institution which is not owned or controlled by the Commonwealth” but lawmakers had circumvented the prohibition by classifying charities as “historical” or “cultural” agencies. Governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and legislators have requested more than $23 million for grants to nonprofit groups this year. McDonnell's office said the administration will review the opinion and its potential consequences. Sen. Janet D. Howell (Fairfax), a leading Democratic budget writer who says the grants have traditionally served an important purpose in helping worthy groups serve their local communities, stated, “ I think the attorney general's opinion is often irrelevant, and it is in this instance. . . . I don't think his opinion will have any impact. This will be decided by the courts.”
Arkansas Attorney General: Donations OK For Prime Seats At University of Arkansas? Athletic Events, Jan. 19, 2011
Arkansas Attorney General: Donations OK For Prime Seats At University of Arkansas’ Athletic Events
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued an opinion concluding that University of Arkansas' practice of requiring a donation in exchange for preferential seating at Razorback home games does not appear to violate any law or trigger the state Freedom of Information Act. McDaniel issued his opinion in response to a request from Sen. David Johnson, D-Little Rock, who had asked whether the university could require a person to make a donation to a nonprofit corporation such as the Razorback Foundation in order to purchase a ticket to a UA athletic event. McDaniel’s opinion noted that the university was party to a contractual agreement with the Foundation “whereby the university reserves the majority of the seats in its stadiums for patrons who have pledged certain amounts in contributions to the foundation," but that not all seats are reserved for contributors to the foundation. McDaniel concluded that the preferential-seating agreement was not objectionable so long as the contract was supported by mutual consideration and the proceeds expended towards a public purpose consistent with the University’s educational mission.
State Regulators Make a Misguided Push to Tighten Control Over Charities, Jan. 9, 2011
State Regulators Make a Misguided Push to Tighten Control Over Charities
Regulators in a number of states are trying to convince all state lawmakers to pass a new law that would give them greater control over how a charity uses its money and other resources. he model law, which regulators hope to approve next month and then will promote to the states, would authorize state attorneys general to investigate charities and other nonprofits and determine whether they are using their assets properly. The new act doesn’t account for the fact that many regulators know very little about how nonprofits work or how to manage charitable assets. What’s more, it would add costly red tape for nonprofits by creating yet another requirement for charities to register with states. Most worrisome of all is that the oversight act’s reach—and its lack of standards and protections for nonprofit organizations—violate the Constitution. State regulators started down this road because they wanted to clarify an aspect of common law known as visitation. That doctrine is based on the maxim, “He who gave the money controls its use.” But the new oversight act goes far beyond even the most permissive court rulings on the Fourth Amendment, which American courts have held applies to government investigations of private corporations, which, of course, include nonprofits. What’s more, the act violates the due-process procedures guaranteed by the Constitution because it does not allow a nonprofit to seek court action if it believes it has been unfairly and illegally asked to produce records, that the investigation is just a ruse to cramp a nonprofit’s rights or coerce a nonprofit to accept an unreasonable interpretation of law.
More IRS Audits will Keep NonProfits Honest, Jan. 1, 2010
More IRS Audits will Keep Non-Profits Honest
In 2009, the IRS audited approximately 1,723 of the existing 800,000 tax-exempt organizations in the United States. This means that the chances of any single organization facing an audit during any year are about two in a thousand. Taking into consideration that the IRS tends to focus its audits on specific categories of non-profits (e.g. universities, credit counseling groups, etc.), the risk of an audit diminishes even further for organizations outside those categories. IRS staff are simply spread too thin to perform adequate oversight of charities; by one calculation, the agency retains only one agent for each 4,000 tax-exempt organizations. Given that nonprofits account for approximately 10% of jobs nationally and generate a total revenue of over $2 trillion, lax enforcement of the sector is harmful to both nonprofits and to the common good. The IRS's poor oversight amounts to a legal free-fire zone where ne'er-do-wells can, and do, exploit the government, other non-profits and the public. The deterrent effect of regular enforcement would improve compliance. When that happens the public will not think their donations are misused, and the government will be reassured that nonprofits' tax exemptions are worthwhile.
California Charitable Organizations Received Less that 43% of Funds Raised by Commercial Fundraisers, December 27, 2010
California Charitable Organizations Received Less that 43% of Funds Raised by Commercial Fundraisers
California Attorney General Jerry Brown has released an annual report revealing that charitable organizations received less that 43% of the $391.5 million raised by commercial fundraisers in 2009. Towards the goal of allowing donors to make informed choices regarding their charitable giving, the report provides a list of charities that hired commercial fundraisers in 2009, the total revenue raised in those campaigns, and the dollar amount and percentage of funds raised that went to the charity. According to AG Brown, the majority of the funds raised by commercial fundraisers are directed towards overhead.
Missouri Attorney General Releases List of State?s Worst Charities, Dec. 21, 2010
Missouri Attorney General Releases List of State’s Worst Charities
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has released a list of Missouri’s “worst” charities. The list is composed of fifteen charities that failed to give at least 65% of the money the charities raised to the population they purport to serve. The list is based on periodic financial reports that charities in Missouri are required to file with the state Attorney General’s office.
New York Attorney General?s Office Restores $12 Million to Brooklyn Charity, November 12, 2010
New York Attorney General’s Office Restores $12 Million to Brooklyn Charity
After weeks of awaiting approval from the state Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, New York City officials have restored $12.5 million in contracts to the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. The Brooklyn nonprofit, a social-services organization founded by Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez that covers programs from senior centers to homeless prevention, needed the AG’s office to confirm its filings and paperwork before the $12.5 million could be registered and processed. The delay followed the Department of Investigation’s negative reports on Ridgewood Bushwick’s administration, which reports corruption in one of the nonprofit’s units and recommended stricter monetary and administrative supervision. Notwithstanding the approval, the Attorney General’s office has asserted its intention to keep Ridgewood Bushwick under review.
California Attorney General Seeks Settlement with Monterey County AIDS Project, November 5, 2010
California Attorney General Seeks Settlement with Monterey County AIDS Project
The California Attorney General’s Office has engaged in negotiations with the Monterey County AIDS Project to reach a settlement regarding the nonprofit’s mismanagement of charitable assets. The civil suit, filed in May, alleges that over the past decade the former officers and directors of the charity misspent money designated to benefit people with HIV/AIDS. It claims that charitable proceeds were used for board members’ personal and for-profit purposes, and that the organization did not properly document its withdrawals from the sale of a property donated to the organization. Unless the California AG office can reach an agreement with the nonprofit that will ascertain and recover monetary damages caused by the organization’s misspending, the case will move forward in a court hearing in April.
New Jersey Attorney General?s Office Files Lawsuit against Car-Donation Schemer, October 29, 2010
New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Files Lawsuit against Car-Donation Schemer
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs has filed a four-count complaint against Steven Ashley, a New Jersey resident who falsely solicited vehicle donations for the Ray of Hope charity. The New Jersey AG’s office stated that Ashley’s car donation scheme violated the state's Charitable Registration and Investigations Act, along with the state's Consumer Fraud Act. Undercover investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs responded twice to Ashley’s advertisements in 2009, ultimately determining that Ashley misrepresented his use of the car donations. Rather than donating the vehicles to Ray of Hope, which Ashley’s advertisements allegedly claimed to benefit, Ashley used donations to support his own used car dealership in North Carolina. Investigators have also charged Ashley with unlawfully withholding certain facts about IRS requirements that stipulate the amount of money that a donor is able to apply to a tax deduction.
Washington Attorney General's Office Settles with Animal-Welfare Charity, October 29, 2010
Washington Attorney General's Office Settles with Animal-Welfare Charity
After a 16-month investigation into the fund-raising and business practices of a local animal-welfare charity, the Washington Attorney General's Office has reached an agreement with Pasado’s Safe Haven that stipulates changes in the nonprofit’s representation of donated money, its accounting practices, and executive management. State attorneys said that from 2005 to 2009, evidence shows that Pasado’s failed to separate the nonprofit’s finances from the personal business of employees, that it took money while misrepresenting its ability to assist in natural disasters, and that it misled by promising care for specific animals. According to state attorneys, these actions violated state laws pertaining to charitable solicitations and consumer protection. Pasado’s has agreed to new oversight and accounting improvements, and to pay $70,000 of the state’s costs and attorneys fees.
Two Men Indicted on Charges Related to False Veterans Charity, October 18, 2010
Two Men Indicted on Charges Related to False Veterans Charity
An Ohio grand jury has indicted the director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association on charges of money laundering, theft, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The indictments allege that under the guise of contributing to US veterans, the charity director - using the name "Bobby Thompson" - stole over $1 million from Ohio residents, and that he donated large sums of money to Virginia political campaigns in the last year. Also indicted was Blanca Contreras, who was charged with facilitating the charity director in the operation of the false charity. According to Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, the charity director stole the identity of a real man named Bobby Thompson, and is believed to have stolen other identities in order to execute other false political contributions as well.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Investigates Land Deals Made by Hershey School?s Trustees, October 8, 2010
Pennsylvania Attorney General Investigates Land Deals Made by Hershey School’s Trustees
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has initiated an investigation into recent land purchases executed by the trustees of the Milton Hershey School. More than one hundred years old, the Hershey Trust funds and sustains the Hershey School, which provides residential education to impoverished students. Corbett’s investigation will focus primarily on the soundness of the trust’s $17 million acquisition of a golf course and clubhouse, in order to verify that the purchase was in compliance not only with Pennsylvania’s Office of Charitable Trusts, but also with the Hershey Deed of Trust, which directs that trust money be used only for the care and education of the school’s students.
Massachusetts Attorney General Approves the Sale of Caritas Christi to Cerberus Capital Management, October 7, 2010
Massachusetts Attorney General Approves the Sale of Caritas Christi to Cerberus Capital Management
After five months of negotiations and investigations, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has approved the sale of Caritas Christi to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Attorney General Coakley outlined several stipulations that would ensure the preservation of Caritas’ six Catholic community hospitals for at least five years. Moreover, Coakley required that the pensions of approximately 13,000 Caritas employees and retirees be fully funded, that the hospitals’ debt be satisfied, and that no less than $400 million in capital improvements be provided within four years. The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Department of Public Health must now approve the transaction in order for it to advance.
Wisconsin Attorney General Sues Wisconsin Man and North Carolina Business for Cooperation in Fraudulent Charitable Solicitation Scheme, October 6, 2010
Wisconsin Attorney General Sues Wisconsin Man and North Carolina Business for Cooperation in Fraudulent Charitable Solicitation SchemeThe Wisconsin attorney General has filed an enforcement action against Michael Messmer, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Marilyn Broerman, of Charlotte, North Carolina, for their alleged participation in a fraudulent charitable solicitation scheme in which they placed candy donation canisters in hundreds of southeast Wisconsin businesses and misled consumers into believing that the money raised would assist in the search for missing children. The canisters were plastered with labels depicting a missing child poster and the statement “Thank You for Your Generous Donation,” yet none of the money placed in the canisters has been donated to charity and Messmer has not registered as a charitable solicitor in Wisconsin. The Attorney General is seeking an injunction prohibiting further violations of Wisconsin’s charitable solicitation law, as well as fines of between $100 and $1000 for each violation, and recovery of the state’s costs to investigate and prosecute the case.
Southern California Charity Settles Lawsuit with State Attorney General?s Office, September 28, 2010
Southern California Charity Settles Lawsuit with State Attorney General’s Office
A Santa-Ana charity, The Association for Firefighters and Paramedics Inc., has settled a suit filed by the California Attorney General’s Office, which alleged that the Association inappropriately used donations to pay for out-of-town meetings and a Caribbean cruise. According to the AG’s office, the charity also misrepresented how the proceeds would be spent, using donations largely for the charity’s fundraising efforts rather than for the care of local burn victims. The Association agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the case, in addition to undisclosed attorney fees and investigative costs.
Hidden Under Tax-Exempt Cloak, Political Dollars Flow, September 23, 2010
Hidden Under Tax-Exempt Cloak, Political Dollars Flow
During the 2010 midterm election cycle, nonprofit advocacy groups are spending unprecedented amounts of money to influence elections while maintaining the anonymity of donors. None have been more active than the pro-business organization Americans for Job Security, which spent $6 million on ads during the primary season alone. While Americans for Job Security say it is careful to hew to tax and campaign-finance law, critics says that the organization is a front for political operatives, and was created to sidestep campaign disclosure rules.
Ohio Attorney General Green-Lights Sale of Health Services Nonprofit to For-Profit Company, September 21, 2010
Ohio Attorney General Green-Lights Sale of Health Services Nonprofit to For-Profit Company
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has approved the sale of nonprofit health services company Forum Health, which has been in bankruptcy proceedings for 18 months, to Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS). Cordry stated that the sale will “will be in the best interest of protecting the charitable purpose of Forum Health,” despite concerns expressed by Forum’s three unions that the sale would compromise patient care in the name of profits. In support of his conclusion, Cordray cited CHS’s pledge to commit $80 million to Forum’s three major hospitals over the next five years and noted that the purchase price would be sufficient to cover Forum’s debts.
Hospitals Want Massachusetts Attorney General to Set Up Rules for Sale of Nonprofit Hospital Group to Private Equity Firm, September 20, 2010
Hospitals Want Massachusetts Attorney General to Set Up Rules for Sale of Nonprofit Hospital Group to Private Equity Firm (September 20, 2010)
A group of Massachusetts hospitals, Healthcare Access Coalition, has appealed to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office to impose conditions on the sale of Caritas Christi Health Care system to Cerebus Capital Management, a New York-based private equity firm. The sale would change Caritas’ status from nonprofit to for-profit and Healthcare Access Coalition cited a series of concerns over unfair competition, including whether Cerebus would use its dominance in the market to fix prices, potentially causing an increase in healthcare premiums. The attorney general’s office and the state Department of Public Health are involved in a regulatory review of the sale and a Caritas’ spokesman said there is no specific timetable for the sale.
Oklahoma AG Launches Investigation into Feed the Children, September 18, 2010
Oklahoma AG Launches Investigation into Feed the Children
OK Attorney General launches an investigation into Feed the Children after allegations against its founder were filed over misspending charitable assets, accepting tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from charitable vendors, and for secretly installing “bugging” devices in executives’ offices.
CA Attorney General launches investigation into the Dodgers Dream Foundation, August 31, 2010
CA Attorney General launches investigation into the Dodgers Dream Foundation
CA Attorney General launches investigation into the Dodgers’ Dream Foundation Charity over the excess compensation of Howard Sunkin, the team’s senior vice president for public affairs.
Connecticut Attorney General Investigates Charities, July 28, 2010
Connecticut Attorney General Investigates Charities
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal began an investigation Wednesday into two charities run by Ted Collins IV and for the benefit of Mandi Schwartz, a Yale hockey player with leukemia. Collins did not legally register the charities nor did he comply with requirements the attorney general’s office be notified of fund raising activities. Collins is under a separate fraud investigation in Kentucky by federal prosecutors related to activities that occurred when he resided in that state.
Oregon AG sues Veterans Association and Telemarketing Firm for Fraud, July 19, 2010
Oregon AG sues Veterans Association and Telemarketing Firm for Fraud
Attorney General Kroger of Oregon sued The Veterans of Oregon nonprofit group, and its for-profit fundraiser, a Michigan telemarketing firm alleging that 80 percent of the cash raised over two years, about $500,000, went to the Michigan telemarketing firm making the calls instead of providing services to homeless and ill veterans.
AG Stenehjem of North Dakota orders charitable group to cease and desist, July 7, 2010
AG Stenehjem of North Dakota orders charitable group to cease and desist
The North Dakota Attorney General has issued a cease and desist order against "Liberian Center For Growth and Development," a group that has been illegally soliciting money, allegedly for a library in Liberia. Although the group maintains a North Dakota address, it is registered as a non-profit with the state of Ohio.
Ohio attorney general goes after U.S. Navy Veterans Association, July 2, 2010
Ohio attorney general goes after U.S. Navy Veterans Association
AG Richard Cordray has prohibited solicitations from the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which is allegedly in violation of charitable registration requirements. Cordray has called the organization a “hoax” that has preyed upon patriotic Ohioans and harmed veterans.
Ohio AG Orders U.S. Navy Veterans Association to Cease Fundraising Activities in the State, June 1, 2010
Ohio AG Orders U.S. Navy Veterans Association to Cease Fundraising Activities in the State
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has ordered the U.S. Navy Veterans Association to shut down all fundraising activity. His office’s Charitable Law Section has alleged that the group had misrepresented itself in its registration documents by providing a UPS mailbox as the organization’s chief place of business and by failing to provide an address or phone number for its offices and employees.
For School Company, Issues of Money and Control, April 23, 2010
For School Company, Issues of Money and Control
As charter schools continue to expand, they are coming under increasing scrutiny from school boards and state regulators. They are facing questions about how their public funding is spent and whether their management companies exert too much control over the schools.
One-Fourth of Nonprofits Are to Lose Tax Breaks, April 22, 2010
One-Fourth of Nonprofits Are to Lose Tax Breaks
As of May 15, 2010, an estimated 400,000 charities and nonprofits organizations will lose their tax exemptions due to a provision buried in the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
F.B.I. Raids Office of Clinic Office Linked to Espada, April 21, 2010
F.B.I. Raids Office of Clinic Office Linked to Espada
Federal and state investigators raided the Bronx offices of the Southview HealthCare Network early Wednesday, seeking records as part of a joint investigation into the business and political activities of the Senate majority leader, Pedro Espada Jr.
State Senate Leader Charged with Stealing from Bronx Nonprofit, April 20, 2010
State Senate Leader Charged with Stealing from Bronx Nonprofit
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a lawsuit against State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, charging that he and his family stole more than $14 million from his Bronx non profit. The lawsuit alleges that for over five years, Espada "looted" the state- and federally-funded Comprehensive Community Development Corporation, also known as Soundview. The organization was founded by Espada in 1978 with the purpose of providing health care to residents of the South Bronx.
Family Connections: The Death of a Nonprofit, April 19, 2010
Family Connections: The Death of a Nonprofit
An Austin, TX charity providing services for families with children shut down last week due to deep financial difficulties after its director was charged with providing fraudulent audits to state offices that provide funding. The Attorney General's office has not investigated the matter, despite confusion over the nonprofit's financial management and questions about the board of director's oversight.
MOCA Ordered to Revamp its Budget Practices, April 17, 2010
MOCA Ordered to Revamp its Budget Practices
The California Attorney General's office determined that the Museum of Contemporary Art skirted state law for years enroute to financial meltdown in late 2008 and ordered the museum to hire a consultant to help improve its financial management. The attorney general also required MOCA board members to receive special training in their fiduciary duties.
Group Sues CSU Campus Over Palin Contract, April 17, 2010
Group Sues CSU Campus Over Palin Contract
In the latest salvo in the brouhaha over Sarah Palin's confidential speaking fee at a California State University campus, an open-government group sued the campus and its foundation Friday to force disclosure of the information. The CSU Stanislaus Foundation has refused to say how much it will pay Palin to speak at a June 25 fundraiser, citing a privacy clause in her contract and a state law that shields public university foundations from the Public Records Act.
State's Inquiry Puts Mansion Raffle on Hold, April 15, 2010
State's Inquiry Puts Mansion Raffle on Hold
A raffle for an Athens, OH mansion, intended to raise money for a nonprofit for children, was put on hold as organizers try to resolve questions from the Ohio Attorney General's office.
Inquiry of University Group Widens, April 14, 2010
Inquiry of University Group Widens
California Attorney General Jerry Brown has launched an expanded investigation into the finances and actions of a Cal State Stanislaus foundation that has invited former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to give a speech, after allegations that it may have illegally discarded documents related to the event.
Hawaii Retreat Center Revenue Challenged on Tax-Exempt Status, April 12, 2010
Hawaii Retreat Center Revenue Challenged on Tax-Exempt Status
The state of Hawaii and City of O'ahu have opened an investigation into whether two religious organizations running retreat centers are paying appropriate taxes on those operations. Both organizations use the centers for internal purposes, including housing for religious personnel and staff offices. But both have also rented meeting and lodging space to outside organizations for retreats and conferences, raising questions about whether these operations should be considered commercial and subject to taxation.
DMC Sale: What Does it Mean?, April 12, 2010
DMC Sale: What Does it Mean?
Community leaders are challenging the pending transfer of the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), a non-profit system of eight hospitals that provides the state’s highest volume of indigent care, to the for-profit Vanguard Health Systems, based in Tennessee.
Read About Mercy Flight's Double-Dipping Boss, April 11, 2010
Read About Mercy Flight's Double-Dipping Boss
Mercy Flight Central is a rescue helicopter service that is a nonprofit corporation, which must open its financial books to the public, that is closely connected to a for-profit company that doesn't have to disclose anything. They are both headed by Paul Hyland, who solicits donations for one and, as the sole shareholder of EMS Air Services, makes a profit from the operation. The business structure presents a conflict of interest, according to Sandra Minuitti, a vice president with Charity Navigator, which monitors nonprofits across the country. The organization gave Mercy Flight a three-star rating out of four two years ago for sound fiscal management.
Attorney General Reviews Allegations Against Oklahoma Charity, April 10, 2010
Attorney General Reviews Allegations Against Oklahoma Charity
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has opened a formal investigation of Feed the Children, following allegations of misuse of funds. The investigation will involve scrutiny of the charity's board of directors and its former president, Larry Jones, who was fired in November. The Oklahoma City-based group is one of the nation's largest charities.
New Mexico to nonprofit Navy Veterans charity with fake addresses: Cease and desist, April 7, 2010
New Mexico to nonprofit Navy Veterans charity with fake addresses: Cease and desist
The New Mexico Attorney General's Office has ordered the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a nonprofit, to cease and desist all operations there, having found that the addresses listed for two of its state chapter officers do not exist.
No clarity on charity care pushes hospitals, lawmakers to create definitions, April 5, 2010
No clarity on charity care pushes hospitals, lawmakers to create definitions
The lack of a clear definition of charity care is putting nonprofit hospitals in a bind. The state's nonprofit hospitals have to deal with sweeping health care reform that will turn a large number of Illinois' nearly 2 million uninsured into paying customers. The law essentially could take away most of the charity care expenses that help hospitals qualify for hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax exemptions.
One Held in Scam at Catholic School, April 2, 2010
One Held in Scam at Catholic School
Michael Hlady was arraigned following a scam in which he posed as a professional fundraiser, promising a Boston-area Catholic school that he had found an anonymous donor to provide the funds for an expansion of the school. He collected over $370,000 in fees without ever producing the donor, who in fact never existed.
Minnesota Sues California Non-profit Over Test Prep Materials, March 24, 2010
Minnesota Sues California Non-profit Over Test Prep Materials
Minnesota's attorney general sued a California nonprofit Wednesday, accusing the company of falsely telling parents money from the sale of college entrance test prep software would be funneled into scholarships for poor children.
Coakley calls on skating club's former treasurer to repay $120k, March 24, 2010
Coakley calls on skating club's former treasurer to repay $120k
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office has gone to court to demand that the former treasurer of a nonprofit figure skating club repay about $120,000 in club funds allegedly spent on personal items. Barry Eavzan, former treasurer of the New England Figure Skating Club, allegedly misappropriated funds to cover personal expenses.
Judge Dissolves United Youth Careers, March 19, 2010
Judge Dissolves United Youth Careers
An Iowa judge dissolved United Youth Careers, an organization that used children to solicit door-to-door candy sales purportedly to support job training and other youth education services. The Attorney General's office filed the suit in July 2008, alleging that the program had defrauded thousands of Iowans and that the program was designed merely for the enrichment of its administrators.
Burden Higher for Non-Profit Hospitals, Illinois Supreme Court Says, March 19, 2010
Burden Higher for Non-Profit Hospitals, Illinois Supreme Court Says
An Illinois Supreme Court decision puts nonprofit hospitals on notice that they must provide an adequate amount of charity care to patients or risk losing significant tax exemptions.
Foundation Promotes Art as Well as Sole Trustee, March 18, 2010
Foundation Promotes Art as Well as Sole Trustee
Harvey S. Shipley Miller has served as the sole trustee and employee of the Judith Rothschild Foundation since Ms. Rothschild's death in 1993. While no one has alleged any financial misconduct, the New York State Attorney General has opened a review of the Foundation after it failed to make promised grant payments - which it has since paid - to various arts groups last year.
Group Against Housing Law Told to Halt Fund-Raising, March 13, 2010
Group Against Housing Law Told to Halt Fund-Raising
A Massachusetts organization collecting money as part of a campaign to overturn the state's affordable housing law has been told by the state Attorney General's office to halt fund-raising efforts because the group is not registered as a public charity.
Attorney General Cuomo Shuts Down Yonkers SPCA, March 9, 2010
Attorney General Cuomo Shuts Down Yonkers SPCA
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has obtained an order to shut down the Yonkers SPCA after it was found to be giving peace officer status to more than a dozen individuals, allowing them to carry guns without providing any service to the community.
Attorney General Koster Wins Judgment Against Charity Scam Artist, March 5, 2010
Attorney General Koster Wins Judgment Against Charity Scam Artist
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster won a judgment against Sidney Young and Our American Veterans, Inc. for $118,252 in restitution and civil penalties, after the organization solicited donations for homeless veterans but then largely channeled the funds to himself and employees.
Authorities Warn of Scams New, Old During Consumer Protection Week, March 4, 2010
Authorities Warn of Scams New, Old During Consumer Protection Week
A warning from Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning about the proliferation of consumer and charity scams across age and professional groups.
A Sticky Situation at Hershey, February 28, 2010
A Sticky Situation at Hershey
The failed Hershey-Cadbury deal in January has opened a new rift between top management of Hershey Co. and the Hershey Trust philanthropy that controls the chocolate company, according to observers and a company source with direct knowledge of the relationship.
States Move to Revoke Charities' Tax Exemptions, February 27, 2010
States Move to Revoke Charities' Tax Exemptions
Faced with steep declines in tax revenue, an increasing number of states and localities are considering eliminating various tax exemptions for nonprofit groups.
New Jersey: Local Manager of State Home Energy Assistance Program Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Program of $24,000, February 26, 2010
Local Manager of State Home Energy Assistance Program Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Program of $24,000
Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that a local administrator of the New Jersey Home Energy Assistance (HEA) Program pleaded guilty today to stealing from the state program. In pleading guilty, Constance Campbell admitted that she used her position as an HEA manager for Tri-County Community Action Partnership to process false HEA applications for herself and the five family members who were indicted. Tri-Community Action is a nonprofit contracted by the state to administer the HEA program in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
Colorado: Attorney General Announces Indictment of Longmont Man Involved in Internet Charitable-Fraud Scheme Case, February 26, 2010
Attorney General Announces Indictment of Longmont Man Involved in Internet Charitable-Fraud Scheme Case
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced that the Statewide Grand Jury has indicted Mark L. Schifter on suspicion that he ran multiple fraudulent charity raffles that he used to steal from Colorado consumers.
C Street House Target of Clergy's IRS Complaint, February 23, 2010
C Street House Target of Clergy's IRS Complaint
The owners of a $1.8 million townhouse on Capitol Hill that has been home and refuge to conservative members of Congress are wrongly claiming a federal tax exemption reserved for religious establishments, 13 Ohio clergy members contend in a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service.
Attorney General Says Fisk Has No Right to Sell O'Keefe Art, February 23, 2010
Attorney General Says Fisk Has No Right to Sell O'Keefe Art
A long-running legal battle over Georgia O’Keeffe’s legacy to Fisk University is moving into its final legal hurdle, after the Tennessee Supreme Court declined to hear the case this week. Attorney General Bob Cooper has weighed in, casting doubt on whether the sale can move forward as easily as Fisk officials have claimed. According to his recent statement, neither the university nor the O’Keeffe estate in New Mexico should be allowed to move the collection. The chancery court will now decide the fate of the 101 paintings in question.
Court Rejects Texas Solicitation Measure, February 22, 2010
Court Rejects Texas Solicitation Measure
A ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas declared unconstitutional a law requiring certain disclosures when soliciting charitable donations of goods by telephone, mail or, receptacles. The National Federation of the Blind of Texas challenged Attorney General Greg Abbott's office regarding the law that made professional resellers disclose their identity, that items donated would be sold for profit, and what percentage of proceeds or fees would go to charity.
Eyeing Telemarketers Who Work for Police Charities, February 22, 2010
Eyeing Telemarketers Who Work for Police Charities
Telemarketers who solicit donations on behalf of police-related charities and pretend to be police officers or use intimidating tactics can be pursued for fraud and deception. Despite recent efforts, however, this particular form of solicitation and fundraising cannot be outlawed outright.
Charity's Nonprofit Status Questioned: Group Was Formed to Provide Gas Vouchers to Needy, February 18, 2010
Charity's Nonprofit Status Questioned: Group Was Formed to Provide Gas Vouchers to Needy
Free Gas USA Inc., a Michigan charity launched in 2008 with the promise of providing free gasoline vouchers to disabled, elderly and needy Americans, should not be collecting donations according to a Michigan agency that oversees state charities and nonprofit organizations. The organization is not registered as a nonprofit with the Michigan Attorney General’s office. Reverend William Stein, president of Free Gas USA, claims that registration is unnecessary, as the organization is a wholly owned subsidiary of Baptism Ministries USA, a registered nonprofit.
State Urged to Investigate Fresno Met Auction, February 16, 2010
State Urged to Investigate Fresno Met Auction
A Fresno, CA attorney has asked the California Attorney General's Office to investigate whether it is proper for the Fresno Metropolitan Museum to sell its collection to satisfy its debts. The attorney, Robert Rosati, claims that the museum, in being granted nonprofit status, agreed that its assets were public and would be used for public purposes. If the museum ever dissolved, he contends, its assets should continue to be used for a public purpose.
Attorney General gives nonprofits grace period to register online, February 12, 2010
Attorney General gives nonprofits grace period to register online
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has unveiled a new electronic registration system for charities and foundations in the state to register with the AG’s office. Nonprofits have always been required to register with the Attorney General’s office, but now they must do so electronically. For those who never got around to it, or are late in registering, they get a grace period until May 12.
Kansas Lawmakers Look at Eliminating Tax Exemptions, February 11, 2010
Kansas Lawmakers Look at Eliminating Tax Exemptions
The Kansas legislature is considering a bill that would eliminate approximately $196 million worth of tax exemptions for non-profit and religious organizations.
Nonprofit has no staff, no money left, February 7, 2010
Nonprofit has no staff, no money left
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office has initiated an inquiry into Properties of Merit, a nonprofit corporation that rewards homeowners for upkeep and preservation of their homes across the state. The organization has depleted $400,000 in state grants since its inception in 2006, and now has no source of income. Of particular interest is the founder and CEO's salary, in the face of staff layoffs and the organization's failure to file its 2008 tax return.
Medford Man Sentenced for Charity Scam, February 5, 2010
Medford Man Sentenced for Charity Scam
A Medford, MA pleaded guilty to charges of gross fraud, deceptive professional solicitation practices, and 14 counts of larceny and conspiracy. Ronald Seeley operated a fraudulent telemarketing firm, which claimed to raise funds for Boston Veterans and Retired Police charities, through which he deceived at least 1,000 people.
Haitian Quake Brings More Money and Scrutiny to a Charity, February 4, 2010
Haitian Quake Brings More Money and Scrutiny to a Charity
Performer Wyclef Jean's charity, Yele Haiti, has drawn in $2 million in donations sent via text message alone. The foundation has the potential to be one of the most successful charitable efforts to date, in terms of the amount raised. However, questions have arisen, mostly from former foundation employees, about the charity's ability to manage and distribute the funds.
AG: Buffalo Travel Firm Scammed Non-Profits, February 2, 2010
AG: Buffalo Travel Firm Scammed Non-Profits
The owner of a Buffalo, NY travel firm pleaded guilty to selling vacation packages to non-profit organizations without ever booking the trips. The travel firm claimed that organizations could purchase travel vouchers to use as fundraising tools or employee rewards.
Colorado Couple Barred from Operating Charitable Organizations, January 28, 2010
Colorado Couple Barred from Operating Charitable Organizations
Following a settlement with the State of Colorado, the former owners of the Colorado Humane Society have been barred from operating any charitable organization for the next 10 years.
Solicitors Targeted for Shutdown Over Fraud, January 21, 2010
Solicitors Targeted for Shutdown Over Fraud
State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo is suing to shut down four telemarketing firms accused of defrauding and deceiving donors out of millions of dollars.
The Stevens Settlement: Good for Stevens, Bad for Nonprofit Governance, January 17, 2010
The Stevens Settlement: Good for Stevens, Bad for Nonprofit Governance
An overview and assessment of the settlement reached between New Jersey Attorney General, Anne Milgram, and the trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology, by Jack Siegel.
State Lawsuits Against Stevens Institute Settled With Resignation of President Harold J. Raveche, January 15, 2010
State Law Suits Against Stevens Institute Settled With Resignation of President Harold J. Raveche
Harold J. Raveche will step down as president of Stevens Institute of Technology on June 30, and action that helped bring about a settlement Friday of two lawsuits brought against the Hoboken-based school by the state Attorney General's office.
Espada May Have Violated Laws, Cuomo's Office Says, January 13, 2010
Espada May Have Violated Laws, Cuomo's Office Says
Pedro Espada Jr., the State Senate majority leader, may have violated several laws by using a network of health clinics he controlled as a source of income for his personal and political use, according to court papers filed on Wednesday by the state attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Offers Tips to Giving Wisely to Earthquake Victims in Haiti, January 13, 2010
Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Offers Tips to Giving Wisely to Earthquake Victims in Haiti
Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office encouraged Massachusetts residents to consider donating to charities and relief funds in the wake of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, but also warned potential donors to protect themselves from fundraising scams claiming to benefit those affected by this week's catastrophe.
Artists Miffed Over Rothschild Foundation's Missing Grant Money, January 12, 2010
Artists Miffed Over Rothschild Foundation's Missing Grant Money
Arts organizations and artists' estates have filed complaints with the New York Attorney General's office regarding the Judith Rothschild Foundation's default on all of its 2009 grants promised to these organizations and artists.
Dialogue Direct Agrees to Comply with State Charity Laws, February 1, 2010
Dialogue Direct Agrees to Comply with State Charity Laws
The Washington Attorney General's Office entered into an agreement with New York-based Dialogue Direct, which offers face-to-face charitable solicitors for hire, concerning its business practices.