The chipper voice on the phone recently at the New To Las Vegas world headquarters said she was soliciting money for Breast Cancer Relief Committee. I hadn’t heard about that organization. But that’s not surprising, since there are thousands of cancer causes out there.
The cold caller went through her spiel about helping ailing women. But she mentioned the way to help them would be by supporting political candidates. Hmmmmm.
“Is that a charity?” I asked, batting my baby-blue eyes at my phone.
“Yes,” the caller replied.
Now, that was a blatantly false answer. Charities are barred by law from making contributions to politicians. The full name of the cause calling me was Breast Cancer Relief Committee PAC, as in political action committee. The legitimate function of a PAC is to give received donations to support or oppose candidates for political office in line with the PAC’s stated conceit (conservative, liberal, pro-health care, pro-cop, you name it). Contributions by you to PACs are most definitely not tax-deductible. That might have been why the caller left out the PAC part in her initial pitch to me.
The only reason I don’t call the answer I was given to my question about charitable status a lie is that the caller wasn’t exactly a person, but rather a computer-generated voice controlled by a hidden but live operator who hits keys on a keyboard (using what is known as “soundboard technology”). It’s possible the hidden but live operator who controls the answers simply hit the wrong key. Of course, the hidden but live operator should have known better.
By expressing some interest in making a pledge, I eventually got switched to a live person who wasn’t hidden. She told me that Breast Cancer Relief Committee is a name used by something called American Coalition for Crisis Relief PAC, in Windermere, Fla. As you will see later, that location is officially false, too.
Let’s cut to the chase. I started perusing records filed with the Federal Election Commission. In its entire reported history, from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2021, American Coalition received $3.46 million in donations, mostly from small donors. Guess how much was given to political candidates?
Zero. Not. One. Penny. You spent more on your last Starbucks.
So maybe, you ask, American Coalition is amassing a war chest for future campaigns (although 2020, a presidential election year with control of Congress at stake, was pretty big)? Nope. American Coalition, which also solicits under the name Veterans Crisis Relief Fund PAC, spent upwards of 98% of the money raised on fundraising expenses and overhead, including fees to a entity apparently controlled by its leaders. Cash in the bank on June 30 was just $54,528.24, which in this era of big-money politics isn’t going to support a lot of candidates going forward.
I call these PACs with outrageous financial efficiencies misleadingly soliciting in the name of seemingly worthy causes “faux charities.” They exist mainly to financially benefit their operators (it’s never disclosed how much they rake off, perhaps in kickbacks from telemarketers), not the public. There’s at least one blog post on the Internet calling American Coalition something a lot worse.
And as it turns out, American Coalition has some interesting ties–and shared m.o.’s, down to key words in the name–to an iffy charity I wrote about in this space exactly four years ago today.
Intrigued? Read on. Continue reading
Share on Facebook