Federal Politics

Published — April 18, 2018 Updated — April 24, 2018 at 11:35 am ET

New York attorney general investigating Virginia-based veterans charity

Brian Arthur Hampton, founder and chairman of the Put Vets First! PAC. (PutVetsFirst.org)

New disclosures show embattled group’s leader continues to draw large salary

Versions of this article appear on NBC NewsPublic Radio International and the Buffalo News.

Introduction

April 24: This story has been updated.

The New York Attorney General’s office has joined Virginia officials in investigating a veterans organization that spends nearly all of the money it raises on telemarketing consultants and its own leader’s salary.

The nonprofit Center for American Homeless Veterans must give New York officials documents “relevant and material to an investigation and inquiry, undertaken in the public interest, of CAHV’s solicitation of charitable contributions,” according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Sarah Rutherford, a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, declined to comment when asked about the undated documents: “As for this matter, we do not comment on ongoing investigations and for that reason we can’t provide any further information.”

The Center for American Homeless Veterans and two sister organizations run by the same man — retired Army Maj. Brian Arthur Hampton — together have raised millions of dollars from donors across the country, but very little of the money goes to veterans themselves, the Center for Public Integrity reported in December. Most people who donate to groups run by Hampton make modest contributions in response to telemarketing calls, direct mail or other such solicitations.

Brian Arthur Hampton, right, pictured with Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, left.
American Homeless Vets

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office confirmed in February that it also is investigating the Center for American Homeless Veterans, alleging the charity “has engaged in misleading donors to believe funds would be used for veterans-assistance programs and organizations, when funds were not used for those purposes.”

It is illegal in both Virginia and New York — Hampton’s groups are registered to fundraise in these and most other U.S. states — to lie to donors about how their money will be spent.

Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., in February asked the leaders of two U.S. House committees to launch an investigation into “bad actors” who mislead donors and enrich themselves in the name of military veterans. He cited the Center for Public Integrity’s investigation into Hampton’s veterans operation and media reports about other veterans charities.

Congressional officials and a spokesman for the Virginia attorney general’s office did not respond to requests for updates.

Hampton denies any wrongdoing.

In an April fundraising letter purportedly signed by Hampton and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, Hampton tells prospective donors that Center for American Homeless Veterans is supporting programs that are successful in “getting homeless veterans off the street and into productive lives.”

But the Center for American Homeless Veterans’ tax return offers little evidence that the organization is funding or otherwise directly supporting such endeavors. Its 2015 tax return indicates it provided just $200 in grants to other organizations out of $2.5 million in overall expenditures, the vast majority of which paid telemarketers.

Federal Election Commission filings released this week show Hampton continues to pump thousands of dollars into his own pocket from the Put Vets First! Political Action Committee, which he runs out of the same Falls Church, Virginia, office as the Center for American Homeless Veterans and the Circle of Friends for American Veterans.

Hampton paid himself $27,240 from his Put Vets First! Political Action Committee from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to the FEC filing.

Hampton rapidly increased Put Vets First! Political Action Committee payments to himself late last year, following a Center for Public Integrity investigation into his political and charitable operations. He paid himself $20,350 in December 2017 alone — more than three times his compensation in December 2016, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Few leaders of federal PACs earn that much money.

In all, Hampton paid himself $110,000 from his PAC during 2017, FEC records indicate.

This does not include money he receives from his two nonprofit veterans groups. The latest federal income tax records available for Hampton’s two nonprofit groups indicate he also earned about $340,000 total from the Center for American Homeless Veterans and the Circle of Friends for American Veterans during 2016.

Hampton, who has four decades of fundraising experience, has said his salary is justified because of the number of hours he works leading three groups.

“I am the head of three organizations,” Hampton said previously. “I am always working.”

Hampton’s PAC reported raising $701,000 and spending $730,000 during the first quarter of 2018, according to a report filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission.

Of the money spent, 88 percent went to fundraising contractors, and most of the rest went to overhead and salaries, including Hampton’s own. None of the money was spent on veterans advocacy.

The PAC gave $10,000 — or 1.4 percent of its overall expenditures last quarter — to political campaigns and committees. The beneficiaries, who received $1,000 each, include Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Rep. Steve Knight, R-Calif.; and several candidates seeking elected federal office.

(Update, April 24, 11:30 a.m.: Five recipients of Put Vets First! PAC’s contributions confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that they will either give away or return the money.)

Put Vets First! Political Action Committee’s $10,000 in political contributions this year easily eclipsed its giving for 2017, when it didn’t contribute a dollar to political committees, including those of the many congressional candidates who advocate for military veterans.

Hampton said in an email this week his staff conducts a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of campaigns to pick the handful they want to support — but “the important part of what we do is not the money.”

When a campaign is raising millions of dollars, a $1,000 contribution from his PAC “is important, but largely symbolic,” Hampton said. “What (politicians) really covet are the endorsements we send out.”

Hampton said contracting with professional fundraisers frees up his time to focus on outreach and education.

“If Put Vets First! PAC was backed and supported by big money interests,” Hampton said, “we could raise money in far larger amounts with a far lower cost for fundraising.”

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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.

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
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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