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An extensive online blog report accusing Freedom Alliance, founded by Col. Oliver North, as well as its scholarship programs funded by Sean Hannity’s annual Freedom Concerts, of being a “scam” and diverting too much money for expenses is being blasted by the organization itself, labeling it “false and malicious” and “outageous slander.”
In a headline piece on its website today, the alliance refutes a “blog posting” that makes accusations that money intended for student scholarships has been spent on other expenses, including the personal expenses for Hannity to travel and participate in fundraisers.
“Freedom Alliance has distributed $3.4 million in scholarships and created a Scholarship Trust Fund with the additional money that we have raised for that program. That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of which has been raised by Hannity and the concerts,” the statement, signed by Alliance President Thomas Kilgannon and Founder Oliver North, said.
“Our scholarship program is managed with the understanding that it will be needed for at least the next 20 years as there are children who will ultimately receive a scholarship who are now only a few years old. As indicated on our Federal Form 990, these funds are restricted and used only for future scholarships.”
The statement continued, “Our Scholarship Fund is one of four programs operated by Freedom Alliance. Supporters may donate to a specific program or for general operating purposes. In 2008, Freedom Alliance received $2.1 million in scholarship donations. The same year, we awarded $802,250 in scholarships and applied $1.3 million to our Scholarship Trust Fund.”
The charges had been leveled by Debbie Schlussel on her website.
Yesterday, she charged, “For the last several years, Sean Hannity and the Freedom Alliance ‘charity’ have conducted ‘Freedom Concerts’ across America. They’ve told you that they are raising money to pay for the college tuition of the children of fallen soldiers and to pay severely wounded war vets. … But it’s all a huge scam.”
She charged that less than 20 percent – “and in two recent years, less than 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively – of the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferry the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style.”
Specifically, she charged that a source told her “there’d be a lot more money every concert to go to the cause if Hannity didn’t demand – and get – use of a Gulfstream 5 plane to fly him and his family/entourage to the concerts; a ‘fleet’ (that’s the word the guy used) of either Cadillac or Lincoln SUVs for him and his family/entourage; and several suites at really expensive hotels for him and his family/entourage.”
She also wrote that she “began investigating these claims” to find out “Freedom Alliance gives very little money to the children of slain troops to pay for college and even less to wounded troops.”
“False and malicious,” was the conclusion of Freedom Alliance.
“The blog posting accuses our friend Sean Hannity of personally benefiting from Freedom Alliance. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean. Sean gets nothing from Freedom Alliance except our gratitude for his personal generosity and for all he has done to help the troops and our organization. … But to be clear, Sean pays for all his own transportation, hotels, and all related expenses for himself and his family and friends and staff, which over the years has added up to tens of thousands of dollars. He does not use any Freedom Alliance Funds or Concert funds in any way, period,” the organization stated.
Further, “Sean Hannity has contributed $100,000 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, over $200,000 to the Freedom Alliance, and over tens of thousands of dollars to other military charities and individuals. We only make this information public because of the outrageous slander against him. Sean has no management or operational involvement in, or control over, Freedom Alliance. He has been a selfless patriot in his efforts to raise funds for the education of children of armed services personnel,” the group said.
It released figures, too, showing that in 2008 the group spent $6.7 million, including $5.3 million on program activities, $945,000 on fundraising and $481,000 on management.
The organization distributed $3.4 million in scholarships and created a trust for additional scholarships to be paid in future years.
“That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of whicih has been raised by Hannity and the concerts,” the posting said.
At the Radio Equalizer, the “incendiary” charges were described as being “refuted.”
“Interestingly, one left-wing site actually casts doubt on Schlussel’s reporting: Media Matters. From their analysis, which ultimately spins back toward the leftist agenda: ‘Unfortunately, Schlussel doesn’t provide any documentation for the assertion that Freedom Alliance claimed in writing that 100 percent of donated funds would go to scholarships, so we don’t know if it’s true.'”
The Freedom Concerts have been promoted with the assurance the benefits are used to provide scholarships to those whose parents have been killed or severely injured in their service to the United States.
The organization said its Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, Support our Troops effort and Leadership Academy “would not be possible without the support of Mr. Hannity.”