A dodgy police-themed PAC is back illegally soliciting in Las Vegas

dodgy police-themed PACI suppose this sounds like a broken record. Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC is one of the dumbest police-themed advocacy organizations in the country. Maybe the world. Using the front name of Police Officers Support Association, LEFSA has regularly called the New To Las Vegas world headquarters over the years requesting donations. This even though I several times have written up the really dreadful financial efficiencies and even suggested the outreach to me violates Nevada law. I’ve actually called this operation a faux charity–a political action committee that wants you to think it is doing substantial good for society like Salvation Army, but isn’t.

This is why LEFSA and its doing-business-as name are listed nearby as candidates for my list of America’s Stupidest Charities. Calling a known critic to seek money: Really, in the world of fundraising can it get any more moronic than that?

But when you’re largely a fake, I suppose hope springs eternal. Ergo the recent call I received from “Charles Davis.” I’m using quotes because it’s a fake name. This is not surprising since “Charles Davis” is a fake persona, a voice generated by a computer oversee by a human operator using what is known as soundboard technology. But I recognized the quivering voice, which in previous outreaches identified itself to me as “Eddie,” “Andrew” and “Andy Bautista” (perhaps the last two are the same computer).

“Charles” said he was calling for Police Officers Support Association and in an emotional timbre–the computers are getting better from a theatrical standpoint!–made the usual pitch about the desperate need to help law enforcement by supporting friendly politicians. I asked where Police Officers Support Association was headquartered. “Charles” then rattled off a Washington, D.C., address for what he called “Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC.”

OK, I said, you said you were calling on behalf of the Police Officers Support Association. What does Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC have to do with that?

His brusque reply: I would be put on the Do Not Call list. Followed by the click of a hang-up.

Certainly sounds legit, doesn’t it?

I know from my previous inquiries that Law Enforcement for a Safer America PAC is sort of a fake name, too. It’s overseen by International Association of Police Unions, AFL-CIO, a Florida-based labor union that has used charity-sounding fundraising from other cold-calling to defray its collective bargaining costs. In my view this is highly inappropriate, since labor unions are not charities. Would-be donors, of course, weren’t told what the money would be used for. Indeed, International Association of Police Unions, AFL-CIO, has such a bad reputation that a decade ago the Tampa Bay Times ranked it No. 7 on its now-famous list of “America’s Worst Charities.” It might not be surprising to learn this labor unit, too, long has been a candidate for my “America’s Stupidest Charities” list for its repeated solicitation of yours truly.

Putting aside LEFSA’s effort to present as a legitimate charity, as a political action committee, LEFSA’s stated mission is to support political candidates who advocate for crime-fighting efforts. It solicits nationally. I’m here to tell you that LEFSA’s financials for the 2021-2022 election cycle aren’t going to worry very many on the wrong side of the law.

I am relying on LEFSA’s public filings with the Federal Election Commission–itself a poor excuse for a regulatory governmental agency–as compiled by OpenSecrets.org. These filings combine all LEFSA fundraising in the name of its various fronts. Besides Public Officers Support Association, they include National Emergency Responders Coalition, National Coalition for Police & Troopers, and Law Enforcement Officers Support Fund.

For the two-year period ending on December 31, 2022, LEFSA received $14.5 million in contributions and spent about that much. But only $2.5 million of that $14.5 million was spent on behalf of identified political candidates. The rest was overwhelmingly spent for fundraising and related overhead.

Were LEFSA the charity it poses to be, that would be a fundraising efficiency ratio–the percentage of donations remaining after subtracting solicitation costs–of about 18%. Charitable watchdogs say a ratio below 65% is beyond the pale. In this case, 18% is a lot closer to 0% than 65%. Put another way, a full 82 cents of every dollar raised went right out the door in fundraising costs. As a would-be contributor, would you want to know this before you contribute?

Were LEFSA the charity it poses to be, that would be a charitable commitment ratio–the percent of total expenses spent in furtherance of the stated mission–of about 17%. Again, charitable watchdogs say a ratio below 65% is no good. Put another way, 83 cents of every dollar got nowhere near the stated goal of helping cops. Again in this case, 17% is a lot closer to 0% than 65%. As a would-be contributor, would you want to know this before you contribute?

As bad as these ratios are for LEFSA–and they’re terrible–they actually have been worse in the past. Indeed, a year ago when I took my last swing at LEFSA, the fundraising efficiency and charitable commitment ratios I calculated both sat at 8%.

Then there’s the fact I live in Nevada. In 2021 Nevada passed into law a measure known as Senate Bill 62 expanding fundraising solicitation rules in the state. Among other points, the new law required fundraisers for law enforcement, among other enumerated causes, to first register and make filings with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office before hitting up locals like me for cash. According to the legislative history, the law covers PACs. I just checked with the Secretary of State’s office website, and there are no filings for LEFSA, the Police Officers Support Association or International Association of Police Unions, AFL-CIO.

This is not surprising. Nevada traditionally has been missing-in-action when it comes to effective fundraising regulation. Two agencies, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of State’s Office, share jurisdiction, ensuring no accountability. The Secretary of State’s Office for its part has simply ignored a 2013 law requiring the agency to post on its website full financials or IRS Form 990 tax returns of soliciting charities. I am unaware of any recent enforcement actions by the AG’s office about fundraising.

The telemarketers know this. Since Senate Bill 62 took effect in October 2021, I have checked with the state after getting dozens of fundraising calls from faux charity PACs. I have yet to find even one filing in conformity with the Nevada law.

I sent a request for comment about that and other issues raised in this post to LEFSA, Police Officers Support Association, International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO; and two LEFSA officials listed in recent FEC filings, Treasurer Mark Nelson and Assistant Treasurer Iwona Kurtek. I’ll update this post if I hear anything back. According to various online postings, Nelson and Kurtek are also personally affiliated with International Association of Police Unions, AFL-CIO.

Last year, before my last post about LEFSA, I sent my request for comment to, among others, one Jeremy Kevitt, then listed on FEC filings as the treasurer. I also heard nothing back. But it seems Kevitt has been otherwise occupied. In February, according to press accounts, he pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $50,000 in funds from his local police union in Florida and was sentenced to a half-year in jail.

So here’s the state of play: stunningly ineffectively fundraising for law enforcement that violates the law and even common sense. As a broken record, I’ve suggested this before. Maybe that’s really why “Charles Davis” hung up on me.

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