Sketchy police-themed cause again trolling in Las Vegas

sketchy police-themed causeOn a recent day I received a call at the New To Las Vegas world headquarters from one “Andy Bautista” asking that I give money to Police Officers Support Association. The pitch made it sound like POSA was some kind of a charitable endeavor.

“Bautista” was not a real person–that’s why I use quote marks–but a computer-generated voice using soundboard technology.  Unfortunately for the hidden but very real person monitoring the call for some paid telemarketer, however, this was not the first time I had been solicited by POSA.

In 2019 and 2020 I was pitched a number of times, and learned several things: (1) POSA was simply a trade name used by Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC, as in political action committee, which in this post I’ll call the parent PAC, (2) POSA and its parent PAC most definitely were not charities, (3) they spent almost all the money raised on fundraising expenses and overhead and very little on the stated mission, as listed in filings, of supporting sympathetic political candidates for public office, and (4) POSA and its parent PAC are affiliated with the International Union of Police Associations AFL-CIO, a Sarasota, Fla.-based trade union that in the past has made its own deceptive fundraising pitches for the undisclosed purpose of funding collective bargaining negotiations.

I consider POSA and its parent PAC each to be a “faux charity.” That’s my term for a political action committee that presents itself to would-be donors like they’re pursuing a worthy charitable cause, but isn’t. The police union isn’t a PAC but its pitches on the phone have been no better. All three outfits are so dodgy that I nominated them as candidates for my list of America’s Stupidest Charities (click here and here. It’s a simple criteria: exempt organizations that call me asking for money despite a previous critical post by me, usually eviscerating the financial efficiencies. Seriously, in the world of fundraising, it can’t get much dumber. You can see the full list elsewhere on this page.

Two years later, it appears the m.o. remains largely the same for this crew. But some things have changed. Since my last encounters in 2020, Nevada enacted a law requiring fundraisers for, among other causes, law enforcement to first make filings with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office before hitting up folks in the Silver State like me. I just checked with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, and there are no filings for POSA or its parent PAC.

And a person with the same unusual name as the treasurer listed on recent filings of the parent PAC is facing felony fraud and theft charges on allegations of taking money from a local police union in Florida.

Find any of this interesting? Read on for details.

PSOA and its parent PAC make combined filings under the parent PAC’s name to the Federal Election Commission, which regulates PACs and does little to, ah, police the conduct of its abusive registrants. I am using data filed with the FEC for the quarter ending March 31, 2022.

The parent PAC received $1.62 million in donations, but blew $1.49 million in fundraising expense and overhead, and spent only $228,000 in respect of political causes. So the percent of contributions remaining after deducting fundraising and related costs was only 8%. Put another way, 92 cents of every dollar raised went poof. Meanwhile, in a hotly contested political quarter only that other 8% given by donors was spent on political causes (the PAC dipped into its donor-given reserves from prior periods to pay a little more to candidates). As a would-be donor, would you be happy with these ratios?

Most of the contributions in the quarter benefited campaigns of just three politicians: U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). But the same contribution by a donor directly to the candidates’ own campaign organizations–without the PAC fundraising/overhead rake-off–would have netted the candidates more than 12 times as much.

The new Nevada law requiring prior filings before fundraising by law enforcement causes, known as Senate Bill 62, took effect in October 2021. Judging from the many calls I get and have checked out, the law has been widely flouted by most covered fundraisers. They apparently are counting on the traditional missing-in-action posture when it comes to fundraising regulation by the state’s two agencies with jurisdiction, the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office. So far, the fundraisers haven’t been disappointed.

It’s not hard searching the Internet to find negative material beyond my posts about POSA, its parent PAC or the International Union of Police Associations AFL-CIO.  As far back as 2019, CNN mentioned all three in a long story about “scam” political groups.  In 2021 an Iowa online news outfit accused POSA and its parent PAC of misleading would-be donors. Another online media outlet in California that year said POSA and its parent PAC were running a “pro-police mail scam.”

That latest quarterly report of the parent PAC, which lists a Washington, D.C. address, says its treasurer–the only disclosed name and often a person in charge–is Jeremy Kevitt. The parent PAC and Kevitt as treasurer are mentioned, but not named as defendants, in a class-action-seeking lawsuit alleging Las Vegas telemarketer Richard Zeitlin violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 for various telemarketing activities. Zeitkin denies culpability.

According to news media reports, someone with Jeremy Kevitt’s same unusual first and last name combination–and identified as an ex-police officer–was charged last fall in Lake County, Fla., with stealing $50,000 from a local police union that Kevitt once headed. According to online court records, that Kevitt pleaded not guilty to the two counts, but there are indications of ongoing plea bargain negotiations.

Same person as the Jeremy Kevitt listed as POSA’s parent PAC? I sent a request for comment about that and other issues raised in this post to email addresses associated with Kevitt, POSA, the parent PAC and the International Union of Police Associations AFL-CIO. I’ll update if I hear back.

Getting back to “Andy Bautista,” the fake persona that solicited me for PSOA, it didn’t take me very long to ask something he didn’t want to answer, like how much was spent on fundraising. “That’s a really good question,” “Bautista,” or his human handler, deflected. Instead, I was given a phone number to call. It proved be a voicemail answering service. More of that fundraising overhead.

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