Congressmen have been hearing testimony today from serial charity entrepreneur Roger Chapin, in yet another tale of conservative sleaze in action. Back in 2005, Chapin paid off retired officers to get them to back a group making big money from pretending to care for the troops.
From ABC News' The Blotter:
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, was paid $100,000 to endorse a veterans charity that watchdog groups say is ripping off donors and wounded veterans by using only a small portion of the money raised for veterans services, according to testimony in Congress today.Such big-name endorsements helped raise millions more than would otherwise have been possible, by Chapin's own admission. But only 25 percent of the money the charities operated by Chapin - Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation - raised was spent on projects for wounded veterans, leading to an "F" grade by the American Institute of Philanthropy.
..."General Franks was paid $100,000 to lend his name. We understand he developed misgivings and asked that his name be taken off," Congressman Waxman said.
Chapin also revealed that his charity paid $5,000 a month for the endorsement of retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Arthur "Chip" Diehl.
Contacted by ABCNews.com, Gen. Diehl said he had "no comment."
The rest of the money? Well:
The remainder, investigators say, went for administrative costs, salaries and to pay for direct mail fundraising.Chapin is also founder of charities like War on Cancer, Let's Beat Deficits, Citizens for a Drug Free America and Project Drug Free. His latest project, according to Chapin's own HHV website (via SourceWatch), is "Build a Better America, a non-profit organization which will serve as the umbrella for a series of major new social initiatives. The first of these is Conquer Cancer and Alzheimer's Now and Fix America's Schools. In total, non-profit organizations founded and directed by Roger Chapin have generated over $225 million in public donations."
Under questioning today, Chapin also acknowledged the charity paid his $17,000 membership in a California golf club and salaries for himself and his wife of $561,971.
Congressional investigators also reported that the charity reimbursed the Chapins for more than $340,000 in expenses for meals, hotels and entertainment. The charity also purchased a $444,600 condominium in northern Virginia that is used by the Chapins, investigators said.
But it was as president of yet another group, Citizens to Win the War on Terror, that Chapin penned a January 2007 op-ed for the conservative magazine Human Events in which he argued for ousting Maliki, then drafting 500,000 Iraqis as security troops and another 500,000 from outside Iraq by "offering U.S. citizenship to fill the ranks, making us less reliant on Iraqi security forces" as well as "Put U.S. on a war footing at home, for we are in a life and death struggle for our survival as a superpower."
Update Kyle Moore notes some things I'd missed - Chaplin and his wife raked in $3.8 million in total recompense from Help Hospitalized Veterans in the eight years from '97 to '05 and also managed to hand $19 million to the direct mail titan of the US right, Richard Viguerie, who is the Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com and a founder of the American Freedom Agenda.