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SCAM ALERT: They Promise to Help Families of Fallen Officers, But They’re Mostly Paying Telemarketers

SCAM ALERT: They Promise to Help Families of Fallen Officers, But They’re Mostly Paying Telemarketers

How many us feel good about making donations to what seem to be reputable causes, only to find out later that a very small percentage of our money goes to the actual cause.

We support administrators and staff, more than the victims we intend to support, in many cases. and The Tampa Bay Times have teamed up to bring you the following report:

SARASOTA, Florida — A uniformed police officer rests his hand on a casket and bows his head in an image on the homepage of the Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund.

Next to the picture there’s a button that invites you to “Donate Today” and help families of fallen or injured officers.

Screenshots from the website of the Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund. (
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The website asks the visitor to consider that it takes weeks for families of officers who have been killed “to receive the benefits they duly deserve while funeral costs, household expenses and other bills accumulate.”

But just a sliver of the donations given to Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund helps those families, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of the group’s tax returns. Most of the money the nonprofit charity raises winds up with telemarketers paid to solicit donors.

The fund is one of several organizations related to the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, itself a nonprofit based in Sarasota, Florida, that represents local chapters of police unions across the country. IUPA is one of about 70 affiliates of the national AFL-CIO and touts itself as “the only union for law enforcement officers.”

From roughly 2011 to March 2018, the union and the relief fund spent about $106.3 million, according to annual tax returns filed with the IRS. About $82.3 million of that amount — 77 percent — paid for fundraising services.

An associated political action committee, Law Enforcement for a Safer America, raised $4.5 million from donors across the country from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. About $4 million of that paid for fundraising and related expenses. Little went to political action or advocacy — the core purposes of a PAC.

Up until recently, the political action committee shared an office in Sarasota with the union and the relief fund, and its founding treasurer was Michael Crivello, vice president of the union.

The police union and relief fund have contracted with Courtesy Call, Donor Relations and a handful of other companies owned by Las Vegas telemarketer Richard Zeitlin. One of their many other fundraisers is New Jersey-based Outreach Calling, which has ties to beleaguered telemarketer Mark Gelvan.



Not everything is as it appears America.

When organizations struggle to raise funds, of course their overhead is going to eat away at your donations.

I am one of those people that generally doesn’t give anything to fundraising organizations.

But I will give to a panhandler who is down on their luck.

What is my reasoning?

I feel that with a panhandler there is at least some chance my money will make a difference.

Sometimes good intentions meet bad-business models with charitable organizations and, then, overhead eats so much that there is little left for those who the money is directly intended for.

In other cases, charities don’t intend to succeed at all but are simply set up to write paychecks for the organizers.

Dean Garrison is the Publisher of DC Clothesline and DC Dirty Laundry

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