Ask Ohio: Is the US Navy Veterans Association a “Worthy Charity?”

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* By Bob Higgins *

Repeated calls to the Charitable Law Division of the Ohio Attorney General’s office have yielded little in the way of information about the US Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) and its enigmatic director “Commander” Bobby Thompson.

Among the many unknowns are the reasons why an organization which is under investigation in several states, whose activities have raised a thick smog of suspicion in the minds of many researchers and regulators has somehow managed to avoid attention in the Buckeye state.

By way of background, the USNVA and its officers have been the subject of a seven month investigative series by Jeff Testerman and John Martin of the St. Petersburg Times.

During this time the staff of the Times has managed to unearth exactly one officer of the 85 or so listed in filings with various state agencies and the federal government.

For some odd reason the listed addresses of the directors and officers of a “charity” that has raised more than 20 million dollars often turn out to be UPS or postal mail drops or, in many cases, vacant lots or non existent addresses.

The SP Times series has revealed what appears to be a pattern of behavior by this “charity” which should arouse suspicion in the one Ohio agency that exists to prevent the charitable donations of our citizens from ending up in the pockets and bank accounts of flimflammers.

Suspicion breeds more suspicion and the silence; indeed the noisy absence of seven dozen officers of the USNVA does nothing to inspire confidence that this is a worthy charitable organization. The USNVA  in the recent past referred all inquiries to their attorney “Ohio Super lawyer” Helen Mac Murray of Mac Murray, Petersen and Shuster of New Albany, Ohio.

Mac Murray is herself a former employee of the Ohio AG’s office, having served as Chief of the Consumer Protection Section, and Betty Montgomery, a former Ohio Attorney General whose term of service was concurrent with Ms. Mac Murray’s, is listed as a lawyer with Mac Murray’s firm.

I find that association interesting and have to wonder how the USNVA happened to hire the services of such a well connected (in Ohio Republican circles) legal powerhouse as Mac Murray; my guess is that the Yellow Pages were not involved.

It doesn’t take a lot of experience in the world of politics and other chicanery to learn to take notice of such cozy relationships when the behavior of elected and appointed public servants becomes … inexplicable.

In the meanwhile, if you are called by a telemarketer or contacted by anyone raising funds for the US Navy Veterans Association, before you reach for the check book you might ask them why they’ve been prohibited from fund raising in New Mexico and have drawn the eager attention of regulators in Florida and Missouri.

As it stands the US Navy Veterans Association remains an active charity in the State of Ohio and the state has “no other comment.”

If the USNVA calls you in Ohio, you might ask the them how they do it.

Read more at The St. Petersburg Times:

Part one

  • Under the radar
    Is the U.S. Navy Veterans a helpful charity or an illusion? Try finding the leaders and following the money. (March 21, 2010)
  • About the USNVA
    Many names, many claims … many dead ends.
  • Letters: The U.S. Navy Veterans Association responds
    Answering questions from the St. Petersburg Times, the group sent hundreds of pages of e-mails that veered into attacks on the reporter, the newspaper and the nonprofit that owns it, the Poynter Institute. Here are nine key responses.
Part two

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