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Patriotism is the last refuge of Sean Hannity

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then Sean Hannity seems to qualify. For the last few years, Hannity has been promoting “Freedom Concerts” that promise to give college scholarships to the children of killed soldiers and payments to wounded and disabled troops. Musicians who perform at the concerts volunteer their services — as one performer put it “We paid our own way and for all of our costs and expenses to perform because we thought we were helping the troops and their families and that all the money was going to them.” Not to mention the concert-goers, who are spending their hard-earned cash thinking it is going to a good cause.

But if you look at the tax returns of the organization that puts on the concerts, less than 4% (yes, four percent) of the money collected actually went to scholarships or veterans. In order to be considered a reputable charity, over 75% of money collected is supposed to go to the intended recipients, and in fact Hannity himself promised in fundraising letters that 100% of the money donated would go directly to scholarships and wounded soldiers.

So where did the rest of the $48 million go? Hannity himself demands — and gets — a private Gulfstream jet to fly him, his family, and his entourage to the concerts, plus a fleet of Cadillac or Lincoln SUVs, and multiple suites at expensive hotels — all paid for out of the donations. Even more is spent on “consultants” and “expenses”. In other words, these events are big ego parties for Hannity, his family and friends, spending millions of dollars on who knows what, with a few scraps tossed to actual veterans. It is repulsive.

On his radio program last May, Hannity told his listeners “Our new sponsor, Boca Java, just pledged $30,000 to the Freedom Concerts. That will provide a full one-year college scholarship for a kid of a fallen soldier.” But in reality, the charity has never given a full scholarship to anyone. The most it has given out to any student is less than $6,000, and is typically much less. Even Boca Java stopped being a sponsor after last year.

Why does anyone believe these people?

UPDATE: The charity responds.

UPDATE 2: Schlussel responds to the charity’s response, saying their response doesn’t actually answer any of the questions and merely attempts to “cover up” the fraud.

UPDATE 3: Here’s a good summary of the whole thing.

UPDATE 4: The charity behind the “freedom concerts” used to brag on their front page about their four star rating from the charity watchdog group “Charity Navigator” but no longer. Charity Navigator has suddenly downgraded them from four stars to two. The other major charity watchdog group has long given them a low rating.



  1. Richard wrote:

    The question is, why isn’t Hannity in jail over this? If this is fact then his non-profit status should be revoked and he should be paying back taxes on the money.

    The problem isn’t just the Hannity’s of the world, it’s the fact that abuses like this (if it’s true) are allowed to continue with no consequences for the abusers.

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 5:28 am | Permalink
  2. ebdoug wrote:

    Please don’t make an “organization” a “who”. An organization is a “thing” (a “that”) like Corporations are “things” not living beings. Next thing organizations will be able to vote like corporations can now.

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  3. Rick wrote:

    I have always found Seans’ rhetoric to be pure drivel. I will excercise my “freedom” to not support any musician or company that “volunteers” to promote this blowhards Radical Agenda…as he would say of others…

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink
  4. H. Rider Haggard wrote:

    So why has no one brought suit against Hannity for fraud?

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  5. Sammy wrote:

    I started to go from merely disliking Hannity to despising him when I saw the obviously spliced and heavily edited Obama clips, making it appear (sort of, I suppose) that he was saying things he clearly was not.

    Now this? I haven’t checked the sources yet, but Iron Knee tends to be impeccable, but this is truly despicable.

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  6. Chris wrote:

    What a fraud- oh wait, this was a conservative? Well then, I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for all of that. Let’s think it through…

    1. Sean Hannity is a patriot.
    2. Hannity uses most of the money raised for troops’ kids’ scholarships for his own travel and luxury.
    3. Therefore, pampering Hannity probably allows him to do his job better, be more effective at attacking liberals on television, thereby enstrengthening this country and using that money much better than the children of the troops could.

    You see, if it’s OUR guy doing the fraud, there’s a perfectly good explanation.

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  7. Sammy wrote:

    What makes this story more remarkable is the source of the story: a very right wing blogger!

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink
  8. akw wrote:

    “This week, false and malicious allegations about Freedom Alliance were posted on the Internet and we want to address them with you. We don’t know the motivation for these vicious smears, but we will not allow them to go unanswered.”

    Dear Friends of Freedom Alliance: (March 18, 2010)

    This week, false and malicious allegations about Freedom Alliance were posted on the Internet and we want to address them with you. We don’t know the motivation for these vicious smears, but we will not allow them to go unanswered.

    First, we want to thank you for your support and assure you that Freedom Alliance’s record of financial stewardship and programmatic achievements not only meets, but exceeds standards of program efficiency set by most charity evaluators. We are extraordinarily proud of our work at Freedom Alliance and stand by our efforts 100 percent.

    False Accusations

    The blog posting accuses our friend Sean Hannity of personally benefiting from Freedom Alliance. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean. Sean gets nothing from Freedom Alliance except our gratitude for his personal generosity and for all he has done to help the troops and our organization. We have never had to ask Sean for anything, he always generously offers his help before we have a chance to ask him. But to be clear Sean pays for all his own transportation, hotels, and all related expenses for himself and his family and friends and staff, which over the years has added up to tens of thousands of dollars. He does not use any Freedom Alliance Funds or Concert funds in any way, period.

    Sean Hannity has contributed $100,000 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, over $200,000 to the Freedom Alliance, and over tens of thousands of dollars to other military charities and individuals. We only make this information public because of the outrageous slander against him. Sean has no management or operational involvement in, or control over, Freedom Alliance. He has been a selfless patriot in his efforts to raise funds for the education of children of armed services personnel.

    The blog posting accuses Freedom Alliance of spending less than 20% of money raised on program activities. This is FALSE. Listed below are the amounts that Freedom Alliance spent for each of the past three years and the categories on which they were spent. The figures are taken from our Federal Form 990 which is filed with the Internal Revenue Service and posted on our web site and audited by an independent auditor using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. This financial record not only meets, but exceeds standards of program efficiency set by most charity evaluators.

    In 2008, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $6,745,717. Of that:4.

    79 percent ($5,317,970) was spent on Program Activities•
    14 percent ($945,950) was spent on Fundraising•
    7 percent ($481,797) was spent on Management •

    In 2007, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $7,461,350. Of that:

    81.5 percent ($6,084,474) was spent on Program Activities•
    13.5 percent ($1,011,501) was spent on Fundraising•
    5 percent ($365,375) was spent on Management•

    In 2006, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $7,064,839. Of that:

    77 percent ($5,434,538) was spent on Program Activities•
    18.5 percent ($1,308,414) was spent on Fundraising•
    4.5 percent ($321,887) was spent on Management•

    The blog posting accuses Freedom Alliance of spending money intended for student scholarships on 5. other expenses. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has distributed $3.4 million in Scholarships and created a Scholarship Trust Fund with the additional money that we have raised for that program. That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of which has been raised by Hannity and the concerts. Our scholarship program is managed with the understanding that it will be needed for at least the next 20 years as there are children who will ultimately receive a scholarship who are now only a few years old. As indicated on our Federal Form 990, these funds are restricted and used only for future scholarships.

    Our Scholarship Fund is one of four programs operated by Freedom Alliance. Supporters may donate to a specific program or for general operating purposes.

    In 2008, Freedom Alliance received $2.1 million in scholarship donations. The same year, we awarded $802,250 in scholarships and applied $1.3 million to our Scholarship Trust Fund. The funds donated by Sean Hannity directly — or through the proceeds of the Freedom Concerts — and the support of thousands of Americans are used for these purposes:

    Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund• : Providing scholarships to those whose parents have been killed or severely injured in their service to our Country. There is now over $15 million in the scholarship fund for the students as they come of age.

    Support our Troops• : Many events each year are planned and executed by our staff to show appreciation and provide special opportunities for those actively serving in the military.

    Leadership Academy• : A program for high school students in which they are encouraged and trained to serve their country.

    These programs would not be possible without the support of Mr. Hannity and many others.

    We are proud of our work and numerous accomplishments. We are grateful to our supporters whose voluntary contributions make it possible and we thank you. While it is discouraging to have our record misrepresented in such a malicious way, our work is important and, with your support, it will continue.


    Thomas P. Kilgannon, President
    Oliver L. North, Founder & Honorary Chairman

    Freedom Alliance v 22570 Markey Court, Suite 240 v Dulles, Virginia 20166 v (703) 444-7940

    Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    AKW, you didn’t need to post the entire charity response, I already posted a link to it in the original posting, along with Schlussel’s reply to the response.

    I tend to agree with her — their response doesn’t answer most of the charges against the charity, although they do defend Hannity. They claim that Hannity’s expenses are not paid by the charity, which — if true — do contradict some of what Schlussel said in the original post. Note that those charges against Hannity were based on hearsay, which Schlussel clearly indicated.

    Of course, Hannity still claims that “100%” of the money collected goes to program activities, which even the charity’s response admits is not true.

    And finally, Sammy, it makes me uncomfortable to be called “impeccable” — like everyone I’ve made mistakes. That’s why I try to link to original sources; so people can make up their own minds.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 6:11 am | Permalink
  10. ebdoug wrote:

    The IRS lists Freedom Alliance as a deductible charity.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  11. Terry H wrote:

    Well you can’t defend the indefensible but I would hope you left wingers were giving equal time to Jessie Jackson when he was accused of using funds from the Rainbow Push Coalition for traveling and other personal excursions.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

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