ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – Minnesota’s attorney general claims a Florida-based charity that prides itself on helping families of fallen police officers used most of the donations it received to send solicitation mailers.
According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens duped donors into believing that all of the money it raised through its police family survivor’s fund officers went to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
In reality, most of the donations raised by AFPCC were spent on sending solicitation mailers asking for more contributions from potential donors as well as “public education” activities, including paying its for-profit fundraisers and others to create “announcements” in the solicitations, the 34-page filing states.
The complaint was brought by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson in Ramsey County District Court against the Titusville, Florida-based organization.
According to the lawsuit, AFPCC raised nearly $4 million in donations in fiscal year 2017, and of the $2.14 million it claims to have spent on charitable programming, 83 percent went to its public education activities.
Only 17 percent – $358,000 of the claimed charitable spending – was actually spent on activities related to the police family survivor’s fund, according to AG Swanson. That represents only 9 percent of the total donations in 2017.
Further, the lawsuit alleges 85 percent of Minnesotans who got a benefit from the survivor’s fund over a five-year period “received only greeting or sympathy cards.”
Swanson claims AFPCC received about $426,000 from more than 10,000 Minnesota residents from 2011 to June 2017.
The state attorney general seeks a ruling that the charity has engaged in deceptive solicitation of donation practices and has violated a decades-old consent decree.
AFPCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday’s complaint is not AFPCC’s first run-in with the law. In 1995, it was sued by the Minnesota attorney general’s office for deceptive solicitation practices in which AFPCC was accused of overstating the degree and level of support it provided to families of fallen officers. The organization and state officials entered into a consent decree the following year to settle the lawsuit.
In subsequent years, police departments in North Dakota, Michigan, California, Hawaii, Indiana and Iowa have warned donors that AFPCC was not affiliated with their departments, according to Swanson.
Consumer Reports also named AFPCC as one of five police and firefighter support charities ranked lowest by watchdog organizations, the lawsuit states.
And as recently as June 7, 2018, a Nebraska police department also issued an alert to news stations, stating that AFPCC donations “do not benefit local officers,” Swanson says.
As recently as June, according to the complaint, a Nebraska police department also issued an alert to news stations saying AFPCC donations “do not benefit local officers.”