Tuesday, May 18, 2010

AG Should Unload Thompson's Contribution

Today, the Washington Post has a story regarding a $55,000 donation that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli received from Bobby Thompson, "a man who served as director of a charitable organization that is now under scrutiny by officials in three states and that led an effort to loosen laws governing charity registration in Virginia this year." The story went on to report that:
The newspaper found that most of the millions raised each year by the group had been solicited by professional call centers that retain up to 60 percent of their collections. The only director the newspaper could find was Thompson, who moved from his Tampa duplex shortly after he was interviewed and left no forwarding address. . . . The association is under review by authorities in New Mexico, Florida and Missouri, according to news reports.
Section 57-49 of the Code of Virginia requires most charities soliciting contributions in the Commonwealth to register their organization with the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The purpose of this registration is to weed out scam artists and bogus charities, and to provide a resource to consumers if they are being solicited.

For example, when you type in the charity in this case - The U.S. Navy Veterans Association - you currently get a page indicating they are not currently authorized to solicit donations in Virginia. Entities are required to file verified financials with the Commonwealth and other information that confirms their legitimacy (click here for more info). Section 57-59 of the Code of Virginia also authorizes the Attorney General to issue civil investigative demands to entities violating the charitable solicitation rules.

Shortly after making this contribution, Thompson was able to get legislation introduced and ultimately passed unanimously that exempted veterans' organizations (ostensibly his group) from registration requirements. That law is not effective until July 1, 2010.

During his campaign, the Attorney General campaigned on the idea that he was going to be an aggressive consumer-oriented Attorney General. Instead, his first 100 days were focused on gays, covering breasts, global warming, fighting the largest employer in this state, and issuing civil investigative demands regarding academic climate change research insteading focusing on protecting consumers from things like bogus charities.

Today, we found out that his second largest contributor who gave him $55,000 in unsolicited contributions was the officer of a "charity" that he is supposed to prosecute if they are breaking the registration law. The Washington Post reports that the Governor, Speaker Howell, and Senator Ticer are all returning Thompson's contributions or donating them to charity. I applaud them for their quick action.

If the Attorney General expects consumers to believe he is serious about protecting consumers, this is one contribution he needs to refund.


  1. I'm an "almost anybody BUT Cuccinelli" voter. Still, I believe this type of sniping to be partisan politics at its worst.

    The story is in the Post. What greater good is being served by attack columns like this?

  2. amcit - first of all thank you for reading. You seem to be a regular reader and commenter which I appreciate.

    Given the Attorney General's focus over the first l00 days, there were certainly many other opportunities to criticize him. I haven't said much publicly about his actions notwithstanding many emails from constituents. I had hoped he would focus on the core responsibilities of the Attorney General's Office. He has not done that.

    I have had an interest in bogus charities. There are thousands of them out there and even some legitimate charities that use professional telephone solitications result in very little actual money going to their charitable purpose.

    When I saw that the Attorney General's second largest donor was affiliated with a charity that primarily uses professional fundraisers, that does not seem to have members or officers, and was behind legislation exempting themselves from registration, I felt like I needed to call for him to return the contribution. That's why I posted it.

    I've known Ken for about 3 years now. Hopefully, he'll consider my request, but that's up to him.