Last June in this space I wrote about American Coalition for Autistic Children after it called the New To Las Vegas world headquarters asking for a donation in support of autism efforts. A little digging by me showed it was just a name used by American Alliance for Disabled Children PAC. Yes, a PAC–a political action committee, which is not a charity at all, of course, but a conduit to make contributions to political campaigns and perhaps push a cause.
At the time AADC, which listed Orland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, as its mailing address, had been around for less than a year. Its financial efficiencies were dreadful, with almost all the donations going to fundraising expense rather than any worthy purpose. Folks contributing to AADC were helping the battle against autism in no meaningful way.
I called AADC a “faux charity,” as it was a PAC presenting itself to would-be donors as a reputable good-works organization. Some, as you will see below, have used stronger language in describing such operations.
Judging from recent comments appended to the bottom of that post by Internet users, AADC is still soliciting like crazy mainly using its autism DBA, even hitting up would-be donors with dementia. And the financial efficiencies are still terrible.
How terrible? I now have reviewed AADC’s filings with the Federal Election Commission for all of 2020. AADC reported raising $1.15 million in contributions. Here’s how much AADC said it gave to political candidates:
Zero. Zip. Nada.
That’s right. Not one dime. This by simple math is an all-time low for any political action committee on record. Especially for a year like 2020, which included a hot presidential election, and races for most of Congress, too. And one thing that AADC wasn’t doing was accumulating a war chest for future elections. On December 21, 2020, it had in the bank all of $3,658.91.
By my reading of AADC’s filings, $1.07 million of that $1.15 million in contributions was spent in fundraising and related expenses. That’s a fundraising efficiency ratio–the percentage of donations remaining after fundraising expenses–of just 7%. Put another way, 93 cents of every dollar donated went right out the door to fundraising rather than help children with problems.
Would you want to know this before making a donation?
AADC’s filings with the FEC, which isn’t a very effective regulator, were a little vague on how much the organization might have spent in advocacy, like cause advertising, lobbying and the like, which is legal. But giving AADC the benefit of the doubt, it appears that sum was no more than $55,000. That was less than 5% of total outlays of $1.53 million. Or put another way, less than 5 cents of every dollar donated went to the cause, which AADC proclaims at the top of its web page (festooned by a picture of a cute little girl), “We fight for the needs of those affected by disability.”
Would you want to know this before making a donation?
Six months after my last swing at AADC, the online news site Salon published a long article about what it called the ‘shadowy multi-million-dollar ‘scam PAC’ network. The article mentioned a number of sketchy PACs, including several I had written about, Heroes United PAC (click here), American Coalition for Injured Veterans (click here) and Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC (click here). The article referenced AADC, but only in the context that it did business with one vendor that serviced a number of other faux charities. The story did not explicitly call AADC a scam. But it clearly suggested AADC dwells in a bad fundraising neighborhood.
As I did in 2020, I sent a request for comment on many of the points above to AADC through the Contact page of its website. I didn’t hear back last year. If someone at AADC responds, I’ll update this post.
Of course, I might get the treatment that AADC gives the FEC. Just this week, the agency wrote AADC that it was not adequately identifying donors who gave $200.00 or more to AADC in a recent reporting period. Nor was this the first admonition.
The FEC, which should know better, is not big on penalties. Just as AADC–by its own admission in its financial filings–is not big on helping children.
Margaret Miller, glad to be of help.
Your two articles on AADC were SO HELPFUL to me!! AADC’s aggressive telemarketer/avatar called me on 12/22/2022 and wouldn’t take no for an answer (starting at $200)- I said I would consider $35 when I had a chance to review their materials. Christmas came and went and I kept getting calls from them to honor my “promise.” “Tina” said that follow-up calls are so expensive they need to assure that donors send in their donations, so I needed to comply with my promise. We had a death in the family so I was not paying attention to mail and they kept calling me to locate my pledge. The calls were so regular and insistent that I began to be suspicious they not nothing better to do than harrange me for 35 bucks. I did a quick search and found your articles, sorry I had not looked earlier. THANK YOU!
They’re still at it. I had a call from them on 11/25/22. One scambaiter I follow on YouTube confronted one of their “representatives” (yes, some of the voices on the phone calls are AI, artificial intelligence) about how “legitimate” their “company” is, and the “representative” (or as Liz said above, “live ignoramus”) just kept yapping about how he was going to send a voucher for the payment and information about AADC/Whatever to the fake address the scambaiter gave him. (After the scambaiter told him more than once that it was a fake address.)
I think this is a good argument for PACs to not be mostly exempt from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This gang should get sued for making unsolicited calls to numbers that are on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Thank you for your article. I am interested in political advocacy for Autistic people, so I actually considered giving. However the solicitor was not able to answer basic questions like what legislation and politicians do you support. Then I did a little research and found it was a scam and your articles.
The use of AI was incredible. Based on your description, I believe I first spoke to a convincing bot who then frantically transferred me to a live ignoramus.
Liz, unfortunately, these telemarketers are shameless. But good for you for letting them know what you think.
I just found this update on AADC. I am so glad you are doing all you are doing. As I posted on the other site, I did send back a refusal to honor my pledge and included your posts by snail mail. I never heard back from them, but I did just get another letter asking me to fulfill my pledge.
I get a lot of calls from disreputable organizations trying to scam me out of my money. One of the most obnoxious are those car warranty calls. I know from my research that many people have been duped by these, which is awful. But to manipulate people into donating to what they think are Just Causes is reprehensible. There are so many ways that people get scammed. And where do you start to try to fix it. Just look at the ransomware problems. That’s a big deal as it pertains to our national security, so yes we should deal with that, but that does not help the individual who has just been scammed out of money for what they thought was a just an honorable cause. Well, that’s my 2 cents.