While right-wing whackos like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin have been getting all the headlines recently, some others like Sean Hannity have been sort of flying under the radar. Now it turns out that Hannity may be the biggest con man of them all -- a real con man bilking his fans out of millions of dollars in a fake charity.
Hannity created a charity called Freedom Alliance. According to Hannity, this charity was to help soldiers who had been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan and to help pay for college for their children. To fund the charity, he held "Freedom concerts" across the country where the entertainers performed for nothing (and even paid their own way to get to the venue). He also sent out form letters asking for donations, and those letters promised that 100% of the money raised would be used to help the soldiers and their children.
To their credit, Hannity's right-wing fans fed millions of dollars into the charity through the concerts and the donations. There was only one problem. Very little of the money was getting to the military victims of the wars and their children. For a charity to be valid, at least 75% of the money raised must go toward helping the intended charity recipients (and most of the better charities do even better than that). But the intended recipients of Hannity's charity didn't receive anything even close to 75% of donations.
The great bulk of the donated money was spent on staff, advisors, form letters, postage, etc. At least $200,000 of the money raised at each concert was spent to fly Hannity, his family and friends to the concerts, rent limousines to ferry them around, and rooms at expensive hotels for them to stay in. Here are the figures for donations and money given to intended recipients according to the charity's tax forms:
$10,822,785 in donations received
3.68% went to intended recipients
$12,459,317 in donations received
7.19% went to intended recipients
$8,781,431 in donations received
12.07% went to intended recipients
Folks, this is not a charity. This is a SCAM! While a few wounded soldiers and their children received a pittance, Hannity and his employees and advisors have been living high on the hog off the rest. How can this qualify as a charity when, at most, only 12% of donations actually went to the intended purpose?
Now some of you may be thinking this is just another left-wing attack on that great patriot Sean Hannity. Not so! The investigation that exposed Hannity's con game was done by right-wing columnist and blogger Debbie Schlussel. I invite you to go to her web site, where she has much more on Hannity's scam.
Schlussel puts it well when she says:
"You’ve heard the saying, 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' I love patriotism, but in this case, Sean Hannity’s “Freedom Concerts” and the Freedom Alliance are Exhibit A of that saying. But they’re not really patriots. Not even close. Their only patriotism is to the faces they see in their mirrors."