June 28, 2010
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is seeking emergency court orders to prevent a Florida-based "veterans" charity from collecting contributions in his state. The U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) is being investigated by several states.
Cordray also noted troubling revelations that the man who appears to have orchestrated the sham charity made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to candidates throughout the United States and in Ohio.
Applications for a temporary restraining order against the group and its officers target UPS mail drops rented by USNVA in those counties in Hamilton and Fairfield counties. The AG is seeking permission to hold contributions that arrive while the investigation continues.
In May, Cordray ordered USNVA to stop contacting Ohio residents for contributions after determining that the group's registration documents were plagued with irregularities. Those documents contain false and misleading information, including the names of association officers who appear to be fictional.
"Our investigators have not been able to locate any of the Ohio officers of the USNVA, although, oddly enough, the organization's national counsel is based here," Cordray said. "Through the counsel, USNVA has advised us that it does not consider the order to be valid and that it does not have to comply with our order to cease and desist fundraising in Ohio."
The Attorney General says the closer he looks at the organization, the more outrageous its conduct appears. "Since 2003, Ohioans have contributed close to $1.9 million to the U.S. Navy Veterans Association," he said. "However, the evidence is mounting that the operation is misrepresenting its mission. It is trading on the good name of our armed forces and patriotic Americans to solicit funds that it says will be used to assist veterans directly. Instead, it appears the funds are going to political campaigns. That is fraudulent and deceptive."
Cordray says the information emerging about USNVA and Bobby Thompson, the individual connected with it, is troubling. "No one can locate Thompson now -- he has disappeared. This is extremely questionable behavior on behalf of a man who had access to millions of dollars raised in the name of Navy veterans."
While very little concrete evidence is available how those funds were spent helping vets or their families, Cordray says "a great deal of information is available about political contributions made by Thompson personally to candidates or through the political action committee he created and to which he was the sole contributor, NAVPAC."
Until this is straightened out, Cordray says he wants "all Ohioans to know not to contribute to the U.S. Navy Veterans Association."