Nevada congresswoman asks for probe of worst charities

A Nevada congresswoman has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the 50 nonprofits that landed on a list of the worst charities in America.

In making her request, U.S. Rep. Dina Titus expressed particular concern about the half-dozen veterans groups that ended up among the bottom 50.

The list came from The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Tampa Bay Times, which ranked charities based on the amount they spend on fundraising.

The six veterans groups and their rankings are:

  8. National Veterans Service Fund
19. Vietnow National Headquarters
24. The Veterans Fund
26. Veterans Assistance Foundation
40. Circle of Friends for American Veterans
47. Our American Veterans

“These so-called charities have broken both the law and the nation’s trust,” said Titus, a Democrat. “I urge Attorney General (Eric) Holder to take immediate action to ensure that Americans’ hard-earned charitable donations are helping those in need, like our nation’s veterans, and not profiting scam artists who exploit good will for profit.” You can read the full letter from Titus here

In another action against a group on the worst charities list, Arkansas’ attorney general has sued the National Police Defense Foundation. The charity ranks No. 31 on the Times/CIR list. The suit alleges that the New Jersey-based charity and its professional fundraiser, USA Publishing, lied to donors about how their donations would be used. Telemarketers pretended to be volunteers even though they were paid fundraisers and implied that donations would be used to support local police, firefighters or other first responders. Less than 1 percent of the funds were provided to local first responders, according to the complaint.

Joe Occhipinti, founder and executive director of the National Police Defense Foundation, said it offered to fully cooperate with the attorney general’s office a year and a half ago when it learned that its fundraiser was under investigation but had not heard anything from the state recently.

“We suspect the prosecution was in response to recent articles that criticized the NPDF for its use of professional fundraisers, which itself is not unlawful,” he said. “If any misconduct occurred on behalf of any individual telemarketer, the NPDF is very much a victim.”

The fundraiser couldn't be reached for comment.

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