Friday, June 11, 2010
States react to questions about Navy veterans group
Join the conversation
- Metro columnist Dan Casey's blog: What do $50,500 in campaign donations buy you? Access!
- Editorial: Were lawmakers taken in by veterans' group?
From today's paper
- Webb wants IRS to examine murky Navy veterans group
- Consumer agency looks into Navy Veterans group
- Staffer: Cuccinelli made no pledge to Navy Vets
- U.S. Navy Veterans Association agreed to stop soliciting
- U.S. Navy Veterans Association still in smokescreen
- Webb asks VA about screening process for veterans groups
- Governor to donate debated $5,000 from Fla. contributor
- Strange tale of cash, lawmakers, legislation, "veterans"
At least three states are investigating the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a nonprofit group beset by questions about its fundraising and membership. Two other states have ordered the group to suspend its operations.
And U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate. The IRS declined last week to say what action it has taken.
Here is a summary of state actions across the country:
n In Florida, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services began an investigation of the U.S. Navy Vets in April after an investigative report by the St. Petersburg Times. The newspaper raised questions about, among other things, the existence of 80-some national and state directors of the association.
Terence McElroy, a spokesman for the consumer services department, said the agency intends to look into "serious allegations" raised by the newspaper.
n In New Mexico, Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Korsmo said in May that the state has launched a formal investigation and ordered the group to cease fundraising in the state, noting in a letter that addresses of its leaders do not exist.
n In Virginia, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in late May it had begun an investigation. Officials cited news stories about the group's practices as the impetus. The probe will examine at least one report that the U.S. Navy Vets were soliciting donations by phone this year, after saying last year that operations had been suspended in Virginia.
n In Ohio, Attorney General Richard Cordray ordered the veterans group on May 28 to stop all fundraising activities in the state. "There are serious questions being raised about the legitimacy of this organization and its fundraising activities in Ohio and across the country," he said.
Cordray cited the listing of a UPS mailbox as the group's principal place of business and its failure to provide phone numbers for its office and addresses for its directors. A spokesman in Cordray's office declined to say if there in an ongoing investigation of the group.
n In Hawaii, the attorney general issued a cease-and-desist order to the U.S. Navy Vets on May 17, saying it was not registered to solicit contributions in the state. The action came after officials noticed a listing on the group's Web site for a rented mailbox described as Hawaii's "contribution processing center," according Hugh Jones, supervising deputy attorney general.
Although the U.S. Navy Vets has said its Hawaii chapter is no longer active, the state is asking them to provide contact information for the former officers "to determine if these people really existed," Jones said.
The U.S. Navy Vets has defended itself on its Web site. One post called the St. Petersburg Times report, which spurred all the scrutiny, "a pack of lies and poppycock."