Police-themed cause still hosing folks in Las Vegas

Police-themed causeThe previous telephone call to the New To Las Vegas world headquarters came from Eddie. The latest a few days ago came from Andrew. But the message was the same. Police Officers Support Association, part of something called Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC, needed my money for law and order and wanted me to pledge a specific amount before mailing me any literature.

I couldn’t pin down Andrew on whether I legally could back out of a purported pledge if I found problems with the mailing. So I asked to speak with his supervisor. Here was Andrew’s complete response:

“I understand.” Pause. “Goodbye.” Click.

Andrew, of course, was not a real person but a computer-controlled voice imperfectly using artificial intelligence to simulate a meaningful conversation with me. I got the impression that Andrew was used to abruptly hanging up on people who asked too many questions. But maybe not often enough.

According to federal filings I just consulted, in its latest six-month reporting period, Law Enforcement for a Safer America, or LEFASA, raised nearly $3½ million from folks like you and me. And how much was spent on the stated mission of supporting law enforcement?

Zero. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

I wrote about this in detail last spring after Eddie called and also hung up on me. And because of that, I’m nominating LEFASA and its d/b/a, Police Officers Support Association, for my list of  America’s Stupidest Charities. The criteria is pretty simple: nonprofits that call asking for money despite a previous critical post by me. I mean, can it get any dumber that that? You can find the list nearby. Now, strictly speaking, LEFASA is not a charity but a political action committee intended to support or oppose causes and candidates for public office. But in its pitches LEFASA sounds like a charity as it portrayed itself as acting in the public interest.

One thing has changed since my last swing at LEFASA. The organization has moved its official address to an office in Washington D.C., from a suite in Sarasota, Fla., shared with the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO. The International Union has a long and disreputable history of portraying itself as a charity, often using the trade name National Police and Troopers Association, but using most of the net proceeds to support collective bargaining for police union contracts. Collective bargaining is definitely not a charitable purpose. But judging from LEFASA’s latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, there are still a lot of ties between LEFASA and the police union organization.

The following data comes from LEFASA’s filing with the FEC for the six-month period ending June 30. The PAC raised $3.45 million in contributions. But of that sum, $3.2 million went right out the door in fundraising expense paying for the activities of Andrew and his handlers. Another $150,000 was spent in what officially was described as “overhead.” Together, that’s 96% of the amount raised. How many donors would be happy to learn that only 4 cents of every dollar given had any chance at all of going to the intended cause?

As it turns out, not a single dollar did. The filings showed exactly one disbursement to a political cause, $30,000 to something called Honor American Law Enforcement PAC. Yep, another political action committee, a newly formed one with a Washington, D.C. address but also sharing connections with the International Union. Honor American Law Enforcement PAC’s own filings show that the $30,000 was the only incoming contribution and that it made no political donations of its own. So LEFASA maintained a perfect record of helping no candidate or cause.

And if you think LEFASA is amassing a big war chest for future campaigns, think again. It reported having on hand in cash just $134,609.45 as of June 30. That isn’t going to support much of a media buy in the name of a safer America.

The LEFASA filing was so sketchy that even the Federal Election Commission, which isn’t much of a regulator, felt compelled to ask questions. In September an agency analyst wrote that LEFASA failed to include properly identifying detail for all donors and did not adequately explain all expenditures. LEFASA later filed an amended report.

I sent LEFASA a request for comment to its most recently listed email address on its filings and will update this if I hear back. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even hear from Andrew’s supervisor.

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