The cold caller on the phone at the New To Las Vegas world headquarters said she was Diane Samson soliciting a gift for Breast Cancer Relief Committee PAC. I asked if her cause had complied with a new Nevada law requiring pre-registration for many fundraisers.
Yes, “Diane” said.
That wouldn’t be her only false statement.
I asked where the organization was based. “Windermere, Fla.,” she replied. The problem with “Diane’s” response is that on its website, American Coalition for Crisis Relief PAC, which is the parent of child Breast Cancer Relief Committee PAC and incorporates its financials, lists its address in Dallas, Tex. And for what it’s worth, my caller ID listed a number around Tucson, Ariz.
“Diane”–I’m using quotes around her name because she isn’t a real person but a computer-generated voice controlled by a human using soundboard technology–gave me an 800 number that she said I could call to get more information. I wrote it down and called. The number turned out to be that of an unrelated business.
Still, I already knew a lot–like the fact that American Coalition completely stiffed its donors on its stated mission of supporting political candidates for a sympathetic cause. That’s what a PAC, which stands for political action committee, is supposed to do. I call these kinds of PACs faux charities, although some watchdogs use stronger language.
You see, this wasn’t the first time that I had been called by Breast Cancer Relief Committee PAC. You can read my account of that last encounter in August 2021 by clicking here. But now child and parent are candidates for my list of America’s Stupidest Charities. The criteria is insanely simple: fundraisers that call me asking for money despite a previous critical article by me, usually focusing on terrible financial efficiencies. Seriously, folks, can it get dumber than that? You can see the other entries nearby.
I now have the benefit of another six months of financial filings with the utterly toothless Federal Election Commission. From American Coalition’s creation in July 2019 through December 31, 2021, the outfit–which also solicits under the name Veterans Crisis Relief PAC–raised $4.95 million in donations. It spent $4.90 million of that–99%–in fundraising expense, overhead and fees for its organizers. The total amount given to political candidates: absolutely nothing.
The difference–the cash-on-hand balance of $56,577 on December 31–isn’t going to help a lot of political campaigns. As you might imagine, “Diane” avoided talking about the dreadful financial ratios. “I can’t answer those kinds of question,” she responded when I asked how much had been given out to candidates.
But what did change since my last call was a new Nevada law, Senate Bill 62, which took effect on October 1, 2021. The measure dramatically broadened prior registration requirements for fundraisers operating in the Silver State beyond traditional charities to include just about anyone outside of religious and alumni organizations soliciting for a plethora of enumerated causes. They include law enforcement, firefighting, public safety environmental conservation and “public health.” The legislative history makes clear that PACs are not exempt.
Neither American Coalition PAC nor its alter ego, Breast Cancer Relief Committee PAC, is listed on the Nevada Secretary of State’s website. SOSO staffers have assured me that new registrants are immediately posted publicly.
I first wrote about the new law in October. At the time I speculated previously unregulated fundraisers would simply ignore it because the two Nevada agencies charged with overseeing it, the Secretary of State’s Office and the Nevada Attorney General Office’s, have terrible records when it comes to regulating fundraising.
From what I can tell, this has proven to be true. Since October, upwards of 50 fundraising pitches from faux charities have come in to the New To Las Vegas world headquarters. Not a single one was registered in Nevada. In the far-away state capital of Carson City regulators sit in a bubble.
American Coalition PAC/Breast Cancer Relief Committee PAC is so sketchy that even sending a request earlier this week for comment on many of the points I made above proved to be difficult. An email sent to an address listed on the website immediately bounced back as undeliverable. Perhaps I’ll had better luck with the same email text sent through the “Contact Me” portal on the same website. In any event, I’ll update this post if I hear back, although it was crickets after I sent a query before my August post.
Which brings me back to “Diane Samson.” After she pressed me to pledge a specific amount of money sight unseen, she said I would be sent paperwork and I should mail back a check. Okay, I said, but if I don’t like something in the paperwork I get–like say, that the amount donated wouldn’t be tax-deductible as a political contribution–could I legally back out of the pledge? “Diane’s” answer: “No.” From a strictly legal standpoint, this is true in many states and might have been one of the few true things she said on the call.