Freedom Scam?

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Dave

Dave is a part-time blogger that writes about whatever suits him at the time.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Will says:

    I’m torn between my disdain for Sean Hannity and my belief that Schlussel is abso-fucking-lutely bonkers.Report

    • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Will says:

      When feeling snarky, the way I frame such things is “[Detestable Person A] is so astoundingly wrong that [he/she] actually manages to make [Detestable Person B] right.” If I’m feeling particularly the prickly, I’ll add “A truly remarkable accomplishment” or something to that effect at the end.Report

  2. Avatar krogerfoot says:

    I actually find it difficult to believe that a true believer like Sean Hannity would be tempted by corruption. The desire to believe that ideological opponents are hypocrites and crooks is understandably attractive, but it seems unlikely that Hannity is anything but sincere. If any of us, whatever our politics, could become famous, influential, and immensely wealthy merely through the energetic expression of our honest beliefs, why bother being dishonest or cynical? Corrupt political and media figures usually either started out that way, taking shortcuts to success, or they became corrupt on the way down, when sincerity on its own no longer pays the bills. For a top-tier personality like Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck, the professional patriotism racket is hugely profitable as it is, with no need for scheming or covering up.

    On the other hand, people who are 100% convinced of their own righteous purity make easy dupes. If there’s anything to this story (a very big if, considering the source), I’d bet it turns out that Hannity was taken for a ride.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to krogerfoot says:

      I’m not sure whether your post indicates you think Glenn Beck is “true believer”, but for the record: he’s not. He had a show on CNN before the 2008 election where he didn’t say anything that approached the crazy far-right rhetoric that’s his shtick now. There are clips of him using eye drop so he cries at the appropriate times. He’s not a believer, he’s a showman who worked out a way to send his ratings through the roof without sincerity being any part of it.Report

  3. Avatar akw says:

    “This week, false and malicious allegations about Freedom Alliance were posted on the Internet and we want to address them with you. We don’t know the motivation for these vicious smears, but we will not allow them to go unanswered.”

    Dear Friends of Freedom Alliance: (March 18, 2010)

    This week, false and malicious allegations about Freedom Alliance were posted on the Internet and we want to address them with you. We don’t know the motivation for these vicious smears, but we will not allow them to go unanswered.

    First, we want to thank you for your support and assure you that Freedom Alliance’s record of financial stewardship and programmatic achievements not only meets, but exceeds standards of program efficiency set by most charity evaluators. We are extraordinarily proud of our work at Freedom Alliance and stand by our efforts 100 percent.

    False Accusations

    The blog posting accuses our friend Sean Hannity of personally benefiting from Freedom Alliance. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean. Sean gets nothing from Freedom Alliance except our gratitude for his personal generosity and for all he has done to help the troops and our organization. We have never had to ask Sean for anything, he always generously offers his help before we have a chance to ask him. But to be clear Sean pays for all his own transportation, hotels, and all related expenses for himself and his family and friends and staff, which over the years has added up to tens of thousands of dollars. He does not use any Freedom Alliance Funds or Concert funds in any way, period.

    Sean Hannity has contributed $100,000 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, over $200,000 to the Freedom Alliance, and over tens of thousands of dollars to other military charities and individuals. We only make this information public because of the outrageous slander against him. Sean has no management or operational involvement in, or control over, Freedom Alliance. He has been a selfless patriot in his efforts to raise funds for the education of children of armed services personnel.

    The blog posting accuses Freedom Alliance of spending less than 20% of money raised on program activities. This is FALSE. Listed below are the amounts that Freedom Alliance spent for each of the past three years and the categories on which they were spent. The figures are taken from our Federal Form 990 which is filed with the Internal Revenue Service and posted on our web site and audited by an independent auditor using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. This financial record not only meets, but exceeds standards of program efficiency set by most charity evaluators.

    In 2008, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $6,745,717. Of that:4.

    79 percent ($5,317,970) was spent on Program Activities•
    14 percent ($945,950) was spent on Fundraising•
    7 percent ($481,797) was spent on Management •

    In 2007, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $7,461,350. Of that:

    81.5 percent ($6,084,474) was spent on Program Activities•
    13.5 percent ($1,011,501) was spent on Fundraising•
    5 percent ($365,375) was spent on Management•

    In 2006, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $7,064,839. Of that:

    77 percent ($5,434,538) was spent on Program Activities•
    18.5 percent ($1,308,414) was spent on Fundraising•
    4.5 percent ($321,887) was spent on Management•

    The blog posting accuses Freedom Alliance of spending money intended for student scholarships on 5. other expenses. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has distributed $3.4 million in Scholarships and created a Scholarship Trust Fund with the additional money that we have raised for that program. That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of which has been raised by Hannity and the concerts. Our scholarship program is managed with the understanding that it will be needed for at least the next 20 years as there are children who will ultimately receive a scholarship who are now only a few years old. As indicated on our Federal Form 990, these funds are restricted and used only for future scholarships.

    Our Scholarship Fund is one of four programs operated by Freedom Alliance. Supporters may donate to a specific program or for general operating purposes.

    In 2008, Freedom Alliance received $2.1 million in scholarship donations. The same year, we awarded $802,250 in scholarships and applied $1.3 million to our Scholarship Trust Fund. The funds donated by Sean Hannity directly — or through the proceeds of the Freedom Concerts — and the support of thousands of Americans are used for these purposes:

    Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund• : Providing scholarships to those whose parents have been killed or severely injured in their service to our Country. There is now over $15 million in the scholarship fund for the students as they come of age.

    Support our Troops• : Many events each year are planned and executed by our staff to show appreciation and provide special opportunities for those actively serving in the military.

    Leadership Academy• : A program for high school students in which they are encouraged and trained to serve their country.

    These programs would not be possible without the support of Mr. Hannity and many others.

    We are proud of our work and numerous accomplishments. We are grateful to our supporters whose voluntary contributions make it possible and we thank you. While it is discouraging to have our record misrepresented in such a malicious way, our work is important and, with your support, it will continue.

    Respectfully,

    Thomas P. Kilgannon, President
    Oliver L. North, Founder & Honorary Chairman

    Freedom Alliance v 22570 Markey Court, Suite 240 v Dulles, Virginia 20166 v (703) 444-7940

    http://www.freedomalliance.org/images/pdf_and_largepics/freedom_alliance_response.pdfReport

  4. I’m amazed that everyone tended to believe the story before checking it out. Frum did the same thing. It was obviously a hit piece which should have raised many red flags.Report

  5. Avatar Dave says:

    Mike,

    To me, as someone who has a pretty decent working knowledge of balance sheets, cash flow statements and, to a lesser extent tax returns, the tax returns raised a few red flags. There were some high expense line items that just seemed to be out of whack relative to the total revenues received. It just seemed high to me at first pass. Notice the question mark in my title. It struck me odd and it wasn’t my political predispositions that turned me on to it as much as it was my interest in financial funny business. If it’s much ado about nothing, so be it. Personally, I find watching stories of corporate fraud unfolding to be far more interesting but this just caught my eye is all. Let’s see what happens with the former management team at Lehman given what the Jenner Block report is saying.

    Krogerfoot,

    I agree. If there’s an issue, it is with the people who are responsible for the day-to-day operations. I would have a very hard time believing that someone like Sean would knowingly scam people. Whatever I think of his politics, which is very little, I don’t see him as that kind of person.Report

  6. Dave,

    As someone who makes my living depending on contracts, I despise fraud as much as anyone, so, I agree — if guilty, then punish them as severely as is appropriate to the crime. But I like the principle of assuming innocence until guilt is proven with facts.Report

  7. Avatar trumwill says:

    Presumed innocence is for juries, not blogs. As long as a blogger is willing to follow up on a story as new facts are made available and adjust their perspectives accordingly, let the accuser say what the accuser has to say and the accused respond accordingly.Report

    • Avatar trumwill in reply to trumwill says:

      I should add that there are certainly limits to this. Accusations that can’t be falsified are a good example. But accusations of improper behavior that can be explained (if the accused isn’t guilty, of course) are a different matter. I don’t expect (or want) the same thresholds of proof to apply to blogs, conversations, and personal opinions. Again, provided that we keep an open mind as new information becomes available.Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to trumwill says:

      Trumwill, I clearly stated that it’s a principle I like — nowhere is it written the principle is not for individuals only juries. Another principle I like is to think before responding.Report

  8. You did more than disagree, you lectured me on how assumption of innocence is for juries not blogs. I know the origination of assumption of innocence, but I believe it’s also a good principle for bloggers who jump to conclusions based on allegations which haven’t been proven. I think it especially applies to blogs which want to establish integrity and honest reporting and analysis — that’s why some blogs are limited to the faithful kooks who jump to any conclusions and make wild accusations without any facts to back them up. Those blogs are a disgrace to new media.Report

  9. Avatar Trumwill says:

    Well, I’m sorry you read it that way, Mike. I did not believe that you did not know the origination of assumption of innocence.Report

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