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100 percent, 80 percent, 12 percent ... somewhere in there

March 30, 2010 - Jim Anderson
Is Sean Hannity a Fraud?

Fraud is a pretty strong term. We’re all small “f” frauds — excluding the fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor, perhaps — but some deserve a capital “F” more than others.

Safe to say, Otis won’t be having to make room in the jail cell for Hannity as a result of the emerging Freedom Alliance scandal.

It could be conceded, though, that Hannity and Freedom Alliance partner Oliver North are prone to, oh, shall we say, Floyd the Barber “overstatement.”

Complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the IRS by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in Washington accuse Hannity and North of misusing millions of dollars collected by the Freedom Alliance charity.

Hannity’s Freedom Concerts are advertised as raising money for scholarships for children of killed and wounded service members. But tax returns show that the group’s overhead far exceeds the charitable payouts.

Lots of charities are inefficient — and no one goes to jail for it.

The Freedom Alliance, for its part, insists that about 80 percent of its income goes for program activities. Critics, however, claim that “program activities” could include such things as jet travel and lavish rooms for Hannity’s entourage. Tax returns from recent years reportedly show no more than 12 percent of the alliance’s funds going directly to scholarships.

CREW’s complaint to the IRS alleges that the Freedom Alliance engages in political activities (such as the Freedom Cruise with Newt Gingrich) and that its status as a tax-exempt charity should be revoked.

CREW’s FTC complaint alleges deceptive marketing practices based, in part on the following:

Hannity has promoted concerts by saying, “Every penny, 100 percent of the donations are applied to the Freedom Alliance scholarship fund.” And North has chimed in: “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 one Mayberry episode, Floyd begs Andy’s help because he’s expecting a visit from a female pen pal. Floyd has led her to believe, erroneously, that he’s wealthy.

Andy joins the deception, before finally coming clean to the pen pal. Only to learn that she is a con artist, trying to steal Floyd’s non-existent fortune.

Still with me?

Everybody was a fraud and things turned out OK.

Then again, that was a TV show.


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