Jan. 17, 2008— -- Retired U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, was paid $100,000 to endorse a veterans charity that watchdog groups say is ripping off donors and wounded veterans by using only a small portion of the money raised for veterans services, according to testimony in Congress today.
Gen. Franks' involvement was revealed as members of Congress questioned Roger Chapin, who operates Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, charities that congressional investigators say spend only 25 percent of the money they raise on projects for wounded veterans.
The charities were graded "F" by the American Institute of Philanthropy because so little of the money is used for actual charity projects or services.
Chapin testified he approached Gen. Franks in 2005, and he agreed to let his signature be used on mass mailings seeking contributions to his charities.
"He helped us raise millions and millions of dollars more than we would have," Chapin told the hearing, chaired by Congressman Henry Waxman, D- Calif.
Congressman Waxman said Gen. Franks had since disassociated himself from Chapin's charities and asked that his name be removed from the solicitation.
"General Franks was paid $100,000 to lend his name. We understand he developed misgivings and asked that his name be taken off," Congressman Waxman said.
"Gen. Franks did support the Coalition to Support American Heroes back in 2004 and 2005. The General made several speeches for the organization because he supports the idea of taking care of our disabled veterans. He also premitted the use of his name in direct mailings for about a year," Michael Hayes, chief of staff for Franks & Associates LLC, said. "He ended his support for the CSAH in late 2005 when he learned that the percent of money raised that was going to the troops was less than 85 percent, a figure which was then and remains today his critertia for supporting charitable organizations."
Chapin also revealed that his charity paid $5,000 a month for the endorsement of retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Arthur "Chip" Diehl.
Contacted by ABCNews.com, Gen. Diehl said he had "no comment."
Chapin said it was "an insult" to suggest that Gen. Franks or Gen. Diehl had "sold their integrity."
Congressional investigators say they found that of the $168 million that Chapin has raised in donations to help veterans, only 25 percent "has been expended on goods and services for veterans." The remainder, investigators say, went for administrative costs, salaries and to pay for direct mail fundraising.
Under questioning today, Chapin also acknowledged the charity paid his $17,000 membership in a California golf club and salaries for himself and his wife of $561,971.
Congressional investigators also reported that the charity reimbursed the Chapins for more than $340,000 in expenses for meals, hotels and entertainment. The charity also purchased a $444,600 condominium in northern Virginia that is used by the Chapins, investigators said.
This post has been updated.