Charity solicitation regulation in Nevada and Las Vegas is elusive

Charity regulation in NevadaIn 2013 Nevada passed a law bolstering its regulation of most charities soliciting for donations, especially over the telephone. Among other things, the law required such charities to file with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office a financial report such as an IRS Form 990, which the agency “shall … post” on its website. A would-be donor contacted by a cold-calling telemarketer could determine if this was one of the many that spend only 10% or less of donations on its professed charitable cause.

But four years later, the secretary of state’s office still doesn’t post the required financial reports or 990s on its website. Nor does that agency or the Nevada Attorney General’s Office do much to make sure that charities asking Nevadans for their hard-earned dollars are on the up and up or to provided all the needed information. It doesn’t appear, for example, that either of the agencies, which by law share jurisdiction over charities, has even a single staffer devoted exclusively to charitable regulation. The secretary of state’s office is so sloppy that, until I pointed it out, the website listed citations to state law repealed several years ago.

Civil penalties? Cease and desist orders? Revocation of solicitation permissions? Not in Nevada.

I’ve only been New To Las Vegas for barely a year. But as as many of you know, I’ve been writing about charities for decades. To me it’s clear that as it’s being implemented, the Nevada system for overseeing charities is exceedingly weak and an open invitation for sharpies. I put that very observation in writing to flaks for both the SOS and AG–they are elected officials–asking for a response, and got none.

To gain a wider local audience, I’ve written a long essay about the shortcomings I see for The Nevada Independent. This is an donor-funded online news site recently founded by the well-known Nevada journalist Jon Ralston focusing on policy and politics in the Silver State.

Some of the material will be familiar to visitors to this blog, but there’s lots of new stuff. I invite you to read the article by clicking here.

And if you live in Nevada, weep.

Follow William P. Barrett’s work on Twitter by clicking here.

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