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Secretary of State accuses charities of exploiting veterans’ causes

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The S.C. Secretary of State is taking aim at charities accused of exploiting veterans’ causes to raise money.

Mark Hammond announced Monday his office has filed a series of petitions for injunctive relief for alleged violations of the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, including failure to file annual financial reports and failure to comply with an investigative subpoena.  

“Over the next year, our office will be taking a hard look at organizations that exploit the honor of the men and women who have sacrificed to protect our country and our freedoms,” Hammond said in a news release. “This enforcement initiative will focus on so-called veterans’ charities that take advantage of donors’ generosity and patriotism.”

On Sept. 13, the S.C. Administrative Law Court granted injunctive relief against the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, Inc. and Purple Heart Services, Inc. for failure to file financial reports and pay $5,760 in administrative fines. Hammond’s office has also filed petitions for injunctive relief against Heels for Combat Boots and Feed Our Veterans.

Purple Heart Services earned a “Scrooge” designation in 2016, a label applied by the Secretary of State to charities that fail to spend a high percentage of their total expenditures on charitable programs or to remit a significant amount of their gross receipts to the charity for which they solicit.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart was named a Scrooge in 2012 and Feed Our Veterans earned the rating in 2013.

“Not only do these organizations have a history of noncompliance with the filing requirements of the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, but they also have been named Scrooges in previous years for failing to devote a significant amount of their expenditures to charitable activities,” Hammond said.

Citizens concerned about a charity may file a confidential complaint by using a form available on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.sc.gov.  

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