Director of Veterans Charity in Hiding

By Matthew Jaffe And Rhonda Schwartz

Dec 13, 2007 12:18pm

The director of a national charity for veterans has gone into hiding after defying a congressional subpoena. Roger Chapin, head of the California-based charity, Help Hospitalized Veterans, refused to appear today before a congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who is investigating how the charity’s money was spent. Waxman said Chapin had evaded attempts by U.S. marshals to find him for the past week to serve a warrant to compel Chapin to answer questions before Congress about his charity, which raised more than $98 million last year. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter Failing to Serve America’s Heroes on the Home Front Blotter Charities Respond to ABC News Report Good Morning America Video Veterans Charities Fail to Make the Grade Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "There have been serious allegations against Mr. Chapin, including allegations that he is paying exorbitant salaries to himself and his wife, using donations to pay for questionable expenses, such as new condos, shifting funds among his various groups to skew reporting numbers and concealing millions of dollars in payments to for-profit fundraising corporations," Waxman said. Help Hospitalized Veterans was one of more than a dozen charities for veterans rated "F" by a leading charity watchdog group, the American Institute of Philanthropy. At today’s hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Waxman criticized these charities for "intolerable fraud" and "a sickening betrayal of our most fundamental values."

"A disturbing number of groups are raising millions of dollars in the name of helping veterans but keeping most of the donations for themselves," said Waxman. "Instead of using the money to provide financial assistance or help veterans obtain care, these groups and the professional fundraisers they employ blatantly line their own pockets. They betray their donors and the troops who desperately need help."

"Right now there’s incredible waste out there, and it’s being done in the name of our brave veterans," said AIP’s Daniel Borochoff. "We owe a lot more to these veterans than too many of these nonprofit groups are providing."

Ed Edmundson, whose son Eric was wounded in Iraq, fought back tears as he described how some charities "use these soldiers as a commodity to raise funds."

"I am concerned [about] the negative effect that the few self-serving nonprofits will have on the ability of the legitimate nonprofits to obtain funding from the general public," Edmundson said, choking back tears. "It would be an unfortunate turn of events if the service they provide is not available."

At one point, Waxman read a letter from former Sen. Bob Dole that called these groups "parasites" and applauded Waxman’s committee for "exposing the downright fraud used by some [charities]."

"I cannot imagine anyone, or any group, stooping so low to enrich themselves by exploiting veterans’ misery," Dole wrote.

Last month, Chapin walked out of an interview with ABC News’ Brian Ross for a report that appeared on "Good Morning America." Waxman said the committee will hold a second hearing on Jan. 17, 2008 and was issuing a new subpoena for Mr. Chapin today. Read Waxman’s letter detailing Congress’ efforts to reach Chapin. This post has been updated.
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