Two U.S. senators announced Wednesday they are investigating charges that the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, a Washington charity, has spent little of the tens of millions of dollars it has raised since 2007 on programs to help veterans.
Sens. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Richard Burr, the senior Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, cited a CNN report that accused the charity of paying nearly $61-million to a direct-marketing firm, Quadriga Art from 2008 to 2010, while providing unnecessary items like candy and hand-sanitizer bottles to veterans.
“The tax exemption for charities exists to promote worthwhile causes like assistance to veterans not to provide tax loopholes to abuse,” Senator Baucus said in a statement.
The senators sent a letter to the group’s president, Precilla Landry Wilkewitz, asking her to answer 14 questions about issues including the organization’s fundraising costs, salaries, programs, and payments to Quadriga Art.
They said the finance committee would scrutinize whether the group merited its status as a tax-exempt charitable organization.
The veterans group did not immediately respond to a request from The Chronicle to comment. But it has posted a statement on its Web site saying it helps veterans find jobs, prevents evictions and homelessness, and cares for people suffering from war injuries. “We realize our fundraising and marketing costs seem high,” it says. “However, these fees are necessary to create the awareness of the causes we support and the programs we offer.”
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