For Immediate Release
CREW Files Complaints With FTC and IRS Against Sean Hannity, His Freedom Concerts and the Freedom Alliance
WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Sean Hannity, his Freedom
Concerts, the Freedom Alliance and Lt. Col. Oliver North. Copies of the
complaints were also sent to the attorney generals of the states in
which concerts are scheduled to be held this summer.
CREW's FTC complaint alleges Hannity and Freedom Concerts
have engaged in illegal and deceptive marketing practices by suggesting
that all money generated by ticket sales for the Freedom Concerts he
sponsors each summer goes to scholarships for children of killed and
wounded service members. In fact, the concerts are staged by Premiere
Marketing, which is headed by Duane Ward - also the head of Premiere
Speakers Bureau, which exclusively represents Mr. Hannity and Lt. Col.
North. After staging the concerts, Premiere donates an unknown
portion of the concert proceeds to the Freedom Alliance.
Hannity has promoted the concerts on his show, making statements such
as, "Every penny, 100 percent of the donations are applied to the
Freedom Alliance scholarship fund." Similarly, promoting the concert on
Hannity's program, Lt. Col. North has said, "There's no overhead.
There's no expenses taken out. Every penny that's donated or that's
raised through things like the Freedom Concerts" goes to the scholarship
fund." In addition, Hannity has pledged that all the proceeds of his
new book, "Conservative Victory," will go to Freedom Alliance.
CREW's IRS complaint against Freedom Alliance asks the IRS to
consider revoking its charitable tax status because the organization has
engaged in prohibited political activities. When Freedom Alliance
first formed in 1999, the IRS conditioned its charitable tax status on
the organization removing politically partisan materials from its
website and warned it not to intervene in political campaigns. Despite
those warnings, Freedom Alliance's website includes links to Lt. Col.
North's columns, which are largely political, rents its mailing list to a
communications firm that works for organizations that "seek to reach
Republicans and conservatives across the United States," and hosts an
annual "Freedom Cruise" with Republican politicians such as former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican National Committee Chairman
Michael Steele. In addition, Freedom Alliance appears to have a
relationship with Team America, a PAC formed by Rep. Tom Tancredo
(R-CO), dedicated to anti-immigration efforts and supporting
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, "There is little more
despicable than preying upon the generosity of Americans by deceiving
them into believing they are aiding the children of killed and wounded
service members when the truth is most of the money is going to a
for-profit venture." Sloan continued, "Americans deserve to know whether
this high-profile charity allegedly dedicated to helping veterans and
their families is really doing what it says it is."
Jon Soltz, the Chair of VoteVets.org said, "If not every dime is
going to those who wore the uniform, then people have the right to know
that. It really is that simple. There are many wonderful charities to
help troops and veterans that are completely transparent and truthful
about where their donations go. If Sean Hannity and Freedom Alliance
are being untruthful, that hurts all those other charities, because it
only causes people to hold back donations to worthy causes in the
future. We need to get to the bottom of this, quickly, and the FTC and
IRS must take any corrective action that's deemed necessary."
Read CREW's complaints and citations in the Related Documents section
on the right.
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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Matt Jacob at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VoteVets.org is a pro-military organization committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world, with force when necessary. It represents the Voice of America's 21 Century Patriots - those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. It primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf of troops, veterans and their families. For more information please visit www.votevets.org or contact Eric Schmeltzer at 646.290.8586 or email@example.com.