Federal Politics

Published — September 12, 2019

5 key findings: Public Integrity’s investigation into charities and PACs that make fundraisers rich

U.S. currency in one hundred dollar denominations are displayed for illustration purposes, in Washington on March 31, 2014. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Introduction

Here are five things to know about the Center for Public Integrity’s investigation — written by Sarah Kleiner and Chris Zubak-Skees and 15 months in the making — into charities and political committees connected through a Las Vegas telemarketer:

  1. A growing number of organizations across the country are adopting names that sound like charities, but they’re really political action committees. Examples include the Children’s Leukemia Support Network, the Heart Disease Network of America, the Police Officers Defense Alliance and others. Little, if any, of the money they raise ever goes toward charitable or political causes.
  2. A Las Vegas businessman named Richard Zeitlin owns companies that have moved from charitable fundraising into contracting with these political committees. Since 2006, his companies have raised at least $121 million for nonprofit charities. Political committees that contract with his companies have raised more than $31 million, according to a Public Integrity review of federal financial disclosures. Of the combined $153 million, Zeitlin’s companies were paid about $133 million, Public Integrity’s analysis shows.
  3. Some of Zeitlin’s clients have troubled histories. They include a disgraced Florida lawyer, a board member of a charity that was shut down by regulators and an Illinois man with a criminal record. Four of the groups are run by a Las Vegas police officer who was accused in a federal lawsuit in 2018 of using “excessive and unreasonable force” when he shot a man armed with a butter knife six times, killing him.
  4. In the U.S., it’s legal for charities and political committees to spend unlimited amounts of the money they raise on fundraising. What’s not legal is lying to donors about how their money will be used. It’s up to a patchwork of state and federal investigators to police nonprofits and political committees. 
  5. When a Public Integrity reporter Sarah Kleiner flew to Las Vegas to ask Zeitlin questions in person, he told her to leave his office and threatened to call the police. Then he followed her to the parking lot to get her license plate number.

    “My business card is in your office,” Kleiner said. “You have all my contact information.”

    “No, no,” Zeitlin said. “You’re coming at me. I’m going to come at you.”

    The reporter tried to ask questions, but Zeitlin cut her off and disputed the amount she said he’d raised. 

    Kleiner asked him to justify his business practices.

    “How do you justify bothering me?” Zeitlin said over his shoulder as he turned around and walked away.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
Guest
SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.