UPDATED: Virginia State Police should investigate charity, House Dems say
Democratic leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates want Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to instruct the Virginia State Police to open a criminal investigation into the activities of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a charity whose activities are under scrutiny in four states.
The Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs, which regulates charities in Virginia, has already opened an investigation into the group. But House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) and House Democratic Caucus Chair Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) are asking McDonnell to get the state police involved to see whether the group was "truly engaged in charitable solicitation and whether any of their solicitations and activities in the Commonwealth may have been fraudulent or illegal."
There have been serious questions raised about the group's activities. In Virginia, the charity has also become a sharp political stake Democrats are using to poke Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), who received $55,500 in campaign contributions from Bobby Thompson, a Florida man who was a director of the group. In their letter, Armstrong and Plum ask McDonnell to instruct the police not to coordinate their investigation with Cuccinelli to "ensure that the investigation is unencumbered."
Among the charity's issues: it claimed to have distributed money to an organization in Virginia that says it never received those dollars. Repeated attempts by various news organizations and political leaders to locate charity staff or members of its board of directors other than Thompson have been unsuccessful. It reports spending a high percentage of the money it collects on telemarketing solicitations for additional donations.
Several politicians, including McDonnell, who received donations from Thompson have donated money in equal amounts to veterans charities. Though he had first resisted pressure to do the same, Cuccinelli recently announced he would freeze $55,500 in campaign funds and donate them if Thompson is convicted of misappropriating the charity's money.
UPDATE 6:11 p.m.: McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson responds, "We have seen the letter and are reviewing it. We have no further comment at this time and cannot comment on what action may or may not be taken by the State Police."
June 28, 2010; 3:44 PM ET
Categories: Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman
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