Ed Schultz talks to CREW's Melanie Sloan and VoteVets.org's Jon Soltz about the latest bit of trouble for Sean Hannity and his "Freedom Concerts". As we already noted Hannity was accused by blogger Debbie Schlussel of "using more money from his Freedom Concerts to fly around on private jets and expensive SUV's than he gives to the children of wounded and deceased soldiers". Now CREW and VoteVets have gotten in the act as well.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleges that Hannity's Freedom Concerts has "engaged in deceptive and illegal marketing practices by suggesting that all concert ticket sale revenue goes directly to scholarships for children of killed and wounded service members." Read on...
The concerts, which are presented by the Fox News star and feature entertainers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, purportedly donate their entire proceeds to Freedom Alliance, a non-profit led by Lt. Col. Oliver North. In turn, Freedom Alliance says it directs all of this money to a scholarship program for veterans' kids. "Every penny, 100 percent of the donations are applied to the Freedom Alliance scholarship fund," Hannity has claimed. North has made similar statements, remarking, "There's no overhead. There's no expenses taken out. Every penny that's donated or that's raised through things like the Freedom Concerts goes to the scholarship fund." (A giant "Thank you! Sean Hannity" currently appears on Freedom Alliance's homepage.)
CREW's complaint, lodged with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), alleges that Hannity and Freedom Concerts have been dishonest in suggesting that the entirety of the revenues from ticket sales goes straight to a scholarship fund. Freedom Alliance does not actually manage the concerts, Crew discovered via a Freedom of Information request and promotional materials. Instead, they're organized by a middleman—a promotional company called Premiere Marketing. The firm is headed by Duane Ward, who is also the president of Premiere Motivational Speakers Bureau, which represents both Hannity and North and has a "long history in conservative activism." Ward previously worked for Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and ran North's legal defense fund following the Iran-Contra scandal in the late 1980s. Premiere in turn donates an "unknown portion of the concert proceeds to the Freedom Alliance," alleges CREW. "We have no idea how much money it actually is," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told reporters on Monday. But CREW argues that Hannity and Freedom Alliance's claims that the revenues go directly to scholarships amounts to "illegal and deceptive marketing practices." Read on...
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