Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach sits on the advisory board of a non-profit veterans’ group that spends the vast majority of donations it receives on fundraising and received a failing grade from the Better Business Bureau, the Kansas City Star reported Thursday.
The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis said Wednesday, in a report flagged by the paper, that the group, Veterans in Defense of Liberty, handed the vast majority of donations it collected right back over to professional fundraisers.
“Fundraisers kept more than 94 percent of money raised for Veterans in Defense of Liberty in 2014 and 2015,” the group’s report said. “Veterans in Defense of Liberty, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, received $49,028 of $1.07 million raised in 2014 and 2015 according to the group’s IRS 990 reports.”
Kobach, who is running to be governor of Kansas, was the vice chair of the White House’s now-defunct voter fraud commission. He has a long history of pushing for restrictive voting laws, often those that disproportionately affect low income people and people of color.
Kobach noted to the Kansas City Star that his board position is unpaid. He told the paper: “This is the first I’ve heard of any suggestion that the monies raised by the charity aren’t going to the various causes for veterans.”
He said he joined the group because he cares “deeply about veterans and veterans’ issues” and said “I’m going to ask the executive director to give me a full accounting of the organization’s resources. … I want to see the numbers myself before I make any decision.”
He told the paper that he believed donations to the group went “to a variety of causes for veterans … and also to support political causes and issues important to veterans as well.”
The Better Business Bureau quoted the group’s executive director, Dr. William Scott Magill, as saying, referring to the extreme overhead expenses: “I’m afraid that is the cost of doing business.”
“We’re not an organization that buys wheelchairs or prosthetics,” he told BBB. “We are pushing Congress to get every vet a ‘Freedom Card,’ so that they can go wherever they want to (for medical treatment).”
The group’s website includes a list of commitments: “Maintaining the integrity of our Republic,” “Promoting conservatism,” and “identify[ing] and oppos[ing] those individuals, groups and agendas that would, knowingly or otherwise, bring about the loss of our freedoms and the destruction of our Republic through, [sic] the violation of the Constitution and the erosion of the traditional founding values and morals.”
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