Friday, 19 March 2010

CONAN'S LAST LAUGH

Ken Berwitz

As Conan O'Brien awaits August, when he will be free to sign with another network (I wouldn't be surprised if it were Fox), here is what has happened to the Tonight Show, which again is being hosted by Jay Leno.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

March 18, 2010

Leno winning, losing late-night

UPDATED: Can Jay Leno win and lose at the same time?

The latest ratings have the Tonight Show host winning the late-night battle, but struggling to conquer the long-term war.

"Tonight Show" (4.4 million viewers, 1.2 adults 18-49 rating) led the late-night crop last week among total viewers and the adult demo, beating CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" (3.8 million, 1.0).

Then there's the nagging comparisons with Conan OBrien and Lenos own performance from last year.

For the second and third weeks since his return to late-night, Leno is down from comparable dates in 2009, slipping 13% in the demo and 3% in viewers. The concern here is that not all of Leno's audience has returned to the show. Also, this week Leno's median age is 56 years old (Letterman's is 54; Conan O'Brien averaged 46).

Another key for the industry to perceive that NBC made the correct choice by keeping Leno is for the Tonight host to stay above OBriens ratings during his tenure as "Tonight" host.

Yet for the past couple weeks, Leno has barely topped O'Brien's average -- 1.2 to OBriens 1.1 -- despite O'Brien having endured an inferior lead-in during the 10 p.m. hour (Jay Leno himself, with his short-lived primetime effort). This gap between hosts is a bit bigger, however, if one uses O'Brien's fourth-quarter rating of 1.0, before his impending exit caused his numbers to climb.

NBC wants to avoid ending up with a "Tonight Show" that has about the same rating as O'Brien despite a better lead-in -- and with a decade-older audience.

Meanwhile, at 12:35, the race is much tighter than the earlier hour -- NBCs Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (1.7 million, 0.6) tied the demo with CBS The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (1.8 million, 0.6).

So, yeah, Leno is beating Letterman.  But that was pretty much expected.  After all, Letterman had already gotten two predictable boosts in viewership;  first when he apologized for his sickening, piggish comments about Sarah Palin and her teenage daughter, then when he apologized for his serial-boffing of female staff members -- which his audience seemed to enjoy hearing about (almost everyone loves a celebrity sex scandal), but which thoroughly humiliated his wife and young child. 

Now it's just the relative quality of Letterman's show compared to Leno's - which is a battle Letterman had been losing for years, even before his sick "humor" about Palin and her daughter and the details of  his wandering penis.

So what happens when Conan roars back into late night and takes a major portion of the younger audience from both shows - maybe even jumping ahead of them in total viewership?  What will Mr. O'Brien say then?

To quote from the Gershwin song "They All Laughed" (from "Shall We Dance", which, coincidentally, I also referenced in the previous blog).....

"Ha ha ha!

Who's got the laugh last now?!"


FESS PARKER R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

I don't know a lot about Fess Parker, other than that he was a nondescript working actor who got the role of a generation when Disney picked him to play Davy Crockett. 

Davy Crockett and his "coonskin cap" became world-famous, and eventually got Parker a 6 year TV gig as Daniel Boone (co-starring, believe it or not, singer Ed Ames and football great Roosevelt Grier), which he then parlayed into a hugely successful business career.

I'm pretty sure that, for the year or two that Davey Crockett and the coonskin caps were hot, no entertainer had a greater impact on this country. 

Mr. Parker died yesterday, at his California ranch, at the age of 85.  May he rest in peace - unless he runs into Mike Fink and has to take him out first.


NEMAZEE OF THE STATE

Ken Berwitz

If you were watching the Today Show this morning (at least the preponderance of it that I watched during the first hour) you either did not hear the name "Hassan Nemazee" or heard it in passing.  You certainly did not catch a feature about it.

If you read the New York Times this morning, you would have found that name on page A22.  Nicely buried.

If you went to www.cnn.com, you would not find Nemazee on its home page - not in the news, not in its "politics" headlines and not in its "justice" headlines.  Ditto for www.msnbc.com.  Not even at www.foxnews.com.  Amazing.

Ok.  So who is Hassan Nemazee?

For that, I will go back to August of last year and post excerpts about Hassan Nemazee from an article at www.politico.com:

Dems return Nemazee contributions

KENNETH P. VOGEL | 8/26/09 12:47 AM EST

 

Vie President Joe Biden, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday evening they plan to return or donate to charity campaign contributions from Democratic financier Hassan Nemazee, who was arrested and charged Tuesday with trying to defraud Citibank of $74 million by offering fake collateral on a loan.

 

If recent history is any indication, expect more politicians to follow suit as the fallout from the latest disgraced-bundler case ripples through Washington in the coming days.

Nemazee made an impact in Democratic politics as a so-called bundler who rounded up checks from others. But a POLITICO analysis found that since the early 1990s, when he first emerged as a prominent moneyman for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, Nemazee also has personally contributed more than $500,000 to dozens of primarily Democratic candidates, committees and causes, ranging from President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emanuel to half the members of the U.S. Senate.

Among the biggest beneficiaries were the three national Democratic Party committees.

Nemazee, 59, contributed $113,500 to the Democratic National Committee, $89,200 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $29,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Federal Election Commission records show.

Nemazee, who lived in New York and primarily made his fortune in investing, also served as national finance chair for the DSCC while Schumer chaired the group during the 2006 election cycle, when the committee raised $121 million (compared to $89 million for its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee) and helped Democrats take control of the Senate.

The DSCC is considering what to do with Nemazees direct contributions, according to a source with knowledge of the groups fundraising operations.

The moneyman over the years contributed $8,600 to the campaigns of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and he served as a regional fundraising leader for Kerrys 2004 presidential campaign.

Nemazee, who contributed $8,300 to Secretary of State Hillary Clintons campaigns for Senate in New York and for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, also was a top bundler for Clintons presidential bid, raising at least $100,000 from other donors.

After she conceded the nomination to Obama, Nemazee helped him raise at least $500,000, in addition to contributing $9,200 of his own to a joint committee Obama set up with the DNC.

And when Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the general election, Nemazee contributed another $50,000 to the non-profit corporation Obama set up to pay for his inauguration and the surrounding festivities.

Now you know who Hassan Nemazee is  So what happened to him recently that would be newsworthy? 

Let's look at the buried article from the NY Times and find out:

Donor to Democrats Pleads Guilty to $292 Million Fraud

By COLIN MOYNIHAN

 

A once-wealthy businessman and prominent donor to Democratic candidates pleaded guilty on Thursday to stealing hundreds of millions of dollars to buy property in Westchester County, donate to charity and give money to political campaigns.

 I am deeply ashamed of my conduct, the man, Hassan Nemazee, 60, told Judge Sidney H. Stein in Federal District Court in Manhattan. I accept full responsibility for my actions.

In September, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Nemazee, who had raised money for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry and Barack Obama, with running a Ponzi scheme from 1998 to 2009 that obtained $292 million in fraudulent loans from Bank of America, Citibank and HSBC.

At the time of his arrest on Aug. 25, Mr. Nemazee, the Iranian-American son of a shipping magnate, was chairman and chief executive of Nemazee Capital, a holding company with investments in private and public companies. In pleading guilty to three counts of bank fraud and a count of wire fraud, Mr. Nemazee, of Manhattan, told the judge that his misdeeds began when he was facing severe financial difficulties.

To solve those problems, Mr. Nemazee obtained huge loans, falsely claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in securities as collateral. Prosecutors said he used subterfuge and forgery to support his claims of wealth, sending banks bogus letters and account statements.

Mr. Nemazee also set up what prosecutors called a virtual office with a phone number that he pretended belonged to the financial institutions that he said had custody of the nonexistent securities.

Oh.  That's why.

Now think back to Jack Abramoff.  Remember that name?  I'll bet you do, because it was all over the news, non-stop, when he was accused (and guilty) of taking money from Indian tribes hoping to build casinos.  Abramoff took the payoffs, promising to exert his influence on their behalf, and then gave large contributions to major Republican politicians.  (The fact that he gave plenty to Democrats too?  Like about $60,000 to Harry Reid through intermediaries, for example?  That wasn't so wall publicized). 

Did media bury that story?  Nope.  It generated lead-story placement for weeks and weeks.

And if you think this is just anecdotal, a one-time occurence, how about Norman Hsu? 

Hsu was another major contributor, and bundler, for Democrats - very especially Hillary Clinton.  He got the money by, among other things, defrauding investors of something like $20 million.  Last May he pled guilty to 10 counts of fraud and was sentenced to 24 years in jail.  How much did you read about that?  Do you even remember Hsu's name?

It is not only the double standard, which could not be more evident.  It is the blatancy of that double standard. 

I blog a lot about media bias.  This should give you a pretty good idea of why.


THE OBAMACARE BRIBES

Ken Berwitz

I no longer have much doubt that ObamaCare is going to pass.  Because congressperson after congressperson, state after state, is being bribed into it.

From Scott Johnson of www.powerlineblog.com (and Michelle Malkin - just follow the link at the bottom of Johnson's blog):

Warning: Reading may cause nausea

March 19, 2010 Posted by Scott at 8:21 AM

Ben Nelson has proven himself an embarrassment to the decent people of the state of Nebraska. They remain unbought and unamused by the special Medicaid payments he secured for Nebraska that instantly came to be known as the Cornhusker Kickback.

All things considered, the people of Nebraska let it be known that they preferred not to sell their birhright for a mess of pottage such as Obamacare. If the Obamacare legislation makes it to Obama, it is supposed to be minus the Cornhusker Kickback.

Now Rowan Scarborough reports that the Obama administration has delivered another budget plum to Nelson and the state of Nebraska, adding more than a half-billion dollars for a new veterans hospital in Omaha. Scarborough notes that the move reverses a decision by Mr. Obama's own Veterans Administration of a year ago, which called for repairing an existing hospital. Nelson's spokesman rejects the idea the new hospital was awarded in exchange for the senator's health care vote.

And maybe that's so. But there is no doubt that other kickbacks have been inserted into the reconciliation package that is before the House. For Tennessee congressional leaders have stuffed an extra $100 million for Tennessee hospitals serving a high volume of Medicaid patients into the package. This was apparently to secure the vote of Rep. Bart Gordon; see Tom Bevan's post.

Although the package nationalizes the student loan system, one bank -- the state-owned Bank of North Dakota -- would be allowed to continue making student loans. Such a deal for North Dakota's Democratic congressional delegation facing massive opposition to Obamacare back home.

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan has already announced his retirement rather than try to defend Obamacare to his constituents. Kent Conrad -- North Dakota's other Democratic senator -- is employing the full Nelson, declining the bribe. Referring to "an overly heated partisan environment," he asked the House to remove the buyoff from the legislation.

We await word from Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the state's lone member of the House. Before the package was announced, Pomeroy was an enthusiastic advocate of the buyoff. "We want what's taking place in North Dakota protected," Pomeroy said. It is not clear whether Pomeroy shares Conrad's second thoughts

And Congress will now expressly fund racial discrimination in higher education:

The new package also promises new aid for colleges serving minority students, using money the government is supposed to save by no longer paying banks to make student loans. Included are annual payments of $100 million for schools with large numbers of Hispanic students, the same amount for colleges with many black students, and millions more for schools with large numbers of native Americans and other minorities.

Newspapers running stories on these deals such as the Washington Post's "Cornhusker Kickback gets the boot in health bill" really ought to provide nausea warnings and motion sickness bags.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin provides an updated roundup in "The Demcare bribe list, Pt. III."

Sickening enough for you?

All this, and the potentially dozens of state challenges to the constitutionality of what Obama & his bought-and-paid-for toadies are doing to us.

How proud they must be.  What a great show of ethics.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.

And that goes double for 2012.

Zeke ..... ..... ..... Ken, you do Mr. Obama a disservice .... .... He is NOT offering bribes ..... he is stealing the country .... ..... 1) Student Loans are now part of the 'Health Care Reform' .... and by eliminating banks in this (pure govt program) .... he can include the $80 Billion SAVINGS (ha ha) in the CBO estimate. 2) Separately, in coming months, they will repeal the scheduled decrease in Medicare payments to Docs .... so THOSE additional costs are NOT included .... 3) Payroll taxes will be added to investment income & profit .... .... ..... (03/19/10)

Zeke .... .... Could someone explain how all this PORK will result in LOWER 'health care' costs ? ... .... .... Has Mr. Obama explained WHO will PAY for all this largess ? (03/19/10)


THE INTEPTITUDE OF ERIC HOLDER

Ken Berwitz

"You say potato, and I say potah-to, you say tomato, and I say to-mah-to,

potato, po-tah-to, tomato, to-mah-to,

let's call the whole thing off...." 

"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1937 musical "Shall We Dance", was written by George and Ira Gershwin shortly before George's untimely death in 1937, two months shy of his 39th birthday. 

That great song came to mind when I read Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson's latest piece, which details eric holder's pathetic performance as Attorney General.  I see ineptitude.  Mr. Gerson sees ineptness.

But I suspect we both agree that President Obama should call the whole thing off, and rid the country of this world class loser.

Here is Mr. Gerson's column, which I emphatically second:

Eric Holder, the attorney general of ineptness

By Michael Gerson

Friday, March 19, 2010

 

Attorney General Eric Holder is controversial on the left for preserving much of the Bush administration's legal structure for conducting the war on terror. He is controversial on the right for overturning portions of that structure in ways that seem both clueless and reckless. But Holder is the most endangered member of the Obama Cabinet for a different reason: Just about everything he has touched has backfired.

 

The list is oddly impressive. First, there was the decision to release Bush-era interrogation memos and reopen the investigation of CIA interrogators after they had been cleared by career prosecutors. Holder assumed these actions would rally public outrage. Instead, he started a national security debate he has pretty much lost. Seven former CIA directors -- serving under presidents Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 -- sent Holder a letter warning his actions could "help al-Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations." Holder opened a serious, ongoing rift between the Justice Department and the intelligence community.

 

Second, there was Holder's repudiation in the matter of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Bush administration lawyers who provided the legal justification for enhanced interrogations. Holder appointees had determined the two lawyers guilty of professional misconduct. But the Justice Department's senior career attorney cleared Yoo and Bybee of the charge, embarrassing Holder in the process.

 

Third, there was the handling of the underwear bomber case. It is fortunate that suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab eventually resumed cooperation. It is also evident that Holder's decision to Mirandize him after 50 minutes was hasty and based on minimal consultation with intelligence officials. Holder treated a national security judgment as a purely legal one. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair later told Congress: "That unit [the High Value Interrogation Group] was created exactly for this purpose -- to make a decision on whether a certain person who's detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means. We did not invoke the HIG in this case; we should have." In fact, Blair was unaware that the High Value Interrogation Group did not yet exist.

 

 Fourth, there is the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other accused Sept. 11 conspirators in Manhattan. Under Holder's direction, this process has collapsed. There is no serious plan to close Guantanamo. Holder has been unable to articulate reasons some terrorism cases are referred to civilian courts while others are tried in military tribunals. And his groundwork for a "trial of the century" was botched in almost every respect. The White House, having lost faith in Holder's ability to manage terrorism trials, has assumed direct control of the process. Civilian trials for the Sept. 11 terrorists now seem unlikely anywhere in the United States. But backing down on that commitment will have a cost. "If this stunning reversal comes to pass," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, "President Obama will deal a death blow to his own Justice Department, not to mention American values." While a military trial for KSM would hardly be a mortal blow to American ideals, Holder's initial announcement created a political expectation on the left that may be impossible to fulfill.

 

Finally, there are the Supreme Court briefs filed by Holder that he failed to disclose to Congress during his confirmation -- likely to be the focus of a congressional oversight hearing in which Holder will testify on Tuesday. Holder's spokesman says this omission was inadvertent. But one of those briefs opposed the detention of Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant, leading Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to wonder, "Are we expected to believe that then-nominee Holder, with only a handful of Supreme Court briefs to his name, forgot about his role in one of this country's most publicized terrorism cases?" Holder's briefs preview his later decisions on the underwear bomber and KSM. Few in Congress or the White House have leapt to defend Holder's convenient omission.

 

Add to all of this a series of public gaffes. America is a "nation of cowards." The possibility of capturing Osama bin Laden alive "simply does not exist."

 

Sometimes haplessness can provoke sympathy. But Holder mixes ineptness with self-righteousness. Critics of his questionable choices, he says, "cower." They lack "confidence in the American system of justice."

 

But there is another possibility. Perhaps Holder's critics -- in Congress, in the country and even within the White House -- just lack confidence in his judgment.

Exactly.

Mr. President:  For the good of the country, and so that you won't personally be seen as obtuse beyind belief for keeping him on:  Fire this loser.  Now.


IS STENY HOYER LYING TO OUR FACES ABOUT OBAMACARE?

Ken Berwitz

Steny Hoyer, the Democratic house majority leader, was just asked by Chris Matthews' guest host, Michael Smerconish, whether members of congress would get the same health care as the rest of us would get if ObamaCare passes. 

Hoyer said "yes".  Twice.

I do not believe him.  I think Hoyer is lying to our faces. 

I think that, after the fact, he will make some weaselly comment that he misunderstood what was being asked, or some other impossibly dishonest way of pretending he didn't say what he said.

If congress had agreed to take ObamaCare, its supporters would be screaming it from the rooftops.  They would be trumpeting it as proof that the health care legislation is so good they are giving up their current (top-of-the-line) congressional insurance to get it.  But I have not heard one congressperson doing so.  How can that possibly be?

Plus, if Hoyer is telling the truth, then it somehow has been overlooked by the voluminous number of media venues who are all too eager to see this bill become law.  It would be front-page, lead-story news for sure.  But have you even seen it reported?

Let me say it again:  I think Hoyer is lying to our faces.

I hope this is discussed further on the cable news shows today and either confirmed or debunked.  Before the vote.

=========================================================================

UPDATE:  Here, from lexis/nexis, is a verbatim transcript of the exchange between Hoyer and Smerconish:

SMERCONISH: Something else, Congressman, that I hear from folks who call my radio programs. They want to know if whatever -- assuming it gets passed on Sunday in the House of Representatives, does it apply to you?

 

HOYER: Yes.

 

SMERCONISH: Yes is the short answer?

 

HOYER: You want a yes or no answer, the answer is yes.

 

SMERCONISH: So what you`re saying is that members of Congress will be governed by that which is created through the exchanges in the same way that folks without insurance or those who do have insurance?

 

HOYER: Yes.

Smerconish does not do himself proud here, for two reasons:  1) His convoluted follow-up question gives Hoyer the wiggle room to pretend he was answering something else (though the first question makes what he was talking about very clear) and 2) Smerconish didn't follow up those two "yes" answers by asking how come there was no press release, or publicity of any kind surrounding the voluntary forgoing of congressional insurance for ObamaCare - which surely would have given the legislation greater credibility. 

I would think that Michael Smerconish, who has been around the block a few times, knows how to ask follow-up questions when they are appropriate.  But he didn't in this case.  I'm not making accusations, but I admit it smells a bit funny to me.

Zeke ... ... No, Congress keeps its incredibly generous health plan .... Lotsa stuff covered that mere mortals will never see. ... .... Congress has a 'health plan that they have and like, and won't be forced to change'. (03/20/10)


FREEDOM ALLIANCE'S RESPONSE

Ken Berwitz

My previous blog aired allegations that most of the money generated by Sean Hannity's "Freedom Concerts" was not going to the military beneficiaries.  Here are the spedific claims:

Apparently Sean Hannity's Freedom Concerts, which are supposed to raise money for the children of soldiers killed in action and for severely wounded veterans, are scandalously inefficient:

In fact, less than 20%and in two recent years, less than 7% and 4%, respectivelyof the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferret the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style.

Is this true?  Well, here is Freedom Alliance's response.  You be the judge:

Freedom Alliance

 

March 18, 2010

 

Dear Friends of Freedom Alliance:

 

This week, false and malicious allegations about Freedom Alliance were posted on the Internet and we want to address them with you. We dont know the motivation for these vicious smears, but we will not allow them to go unanswered.

 

First, we want to thank you for your support and assure you that Freedom Alliances record of financial stewardship and programmatic achievements not only meets, but exceeds standards of program efficiency set by most charity evaluators. We are extraordinarily proud of our work at Freedom Alliance and stand by our efforts 100 percent.

 

False Accusations

 

1. The blog posting accuses our friend Sean Hannity of personally benefiting from Freedom Alliance. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean. Sean gets nothing from Freedom Alliance except our gratitude for his personal generosity and for all he has done to help the troops and our organization. We have never had to ask Sean for anything, he always generously offers his help before we have a chance to ask him. But to be clear Sean pays for all his own transportation, hotels, and all related expenses for himself and his family and friends and staff, which over the years has added up to tens of thousands of dollars. He does not use any Freedom Alliance Funds or Concert funds in any way, period.

 

2. Sean Hannity has contributed $100,000 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, over $200,000 to the Freedom Alliance, and over tens of thousands of dollars to other military charities and individuals. We only make this information public because of the outrageous slander against him. Sean has no management or operational involvement in, or control over, Freedom Alliance. He has been a selfless patriot in his efforts to raise funds for the education of children of armed services personnel.

 

3. The blog posting accuses Freedom Alliance of spending less than 20% of money raised on program activities. This is FALSE. Listed below are the amounts that Freedom Alliance spent for each of the past three years and the categories on which they were spent. The figures are taken from our Federal Form 990 which is filed with the Internal Revenue Service and posted on our web site and audited by an independent auditor using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. This financial record not only meets, but exceeds standards of program efficiency set by most charity evaluators.

 

4. In 2008, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $6,745,717. Of that:

79 percent ($5,317,970) was spent on Program Activities

14 percent ($945,950) was spent on Fundraising

7 percent ($481,797) was spent on Management

 

In 2007, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $7,461,350. Of that:

81.5 percent ($6,084,474) was spent on Program Activities

13.5 percent ($1,011,501) was spent on Fundraising

5 percent ($365,375) was spent on Management

 

In 2006, Freedom Alliance spent a total of $7,064,839. Of that:

77 percent ($5,434,538) was spent on Program Activities

18.5 percent ($1,308,414) was spent on Fundraising

4.5 percent ($321,887) was spent on Management

 

5. The blog posting accuses Freedom Alliance of spending money intended for student scholarships on other expenses. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has distributed $3.4 million in Scholarships and created a Scholarship Trust Fund with the additional money that we have raised for that program. That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of which has been raised by Hannity and the concerts. Our scholarship program is managed with the understanding that it will be needed for at least the next 20 years as there are children who will ultimately receive a scholarship who are now only a few years old. As indicated on our Federal Form 990, these funds are restricted and used only for future scholarships.

 

Our Scholarship Fund is one of four programs operated by Freedom Alliance. Supporters may donate to 6. a specific program or for general operating purposes. In 2008, Freedom Alliance received $2.1 million in scholarship donations. The same year, we awarded $802,250 in scholarships and applied $1.3 million to our Scholarship Trust Fund. The funds donated by Sean Hannity directly -- or through the proceeds of the Freedom Concerts -- and the support of thousands of Americans are used for these purposes:

 

Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund : Providing scholarships to those whose parents have been killed or severely injured in their service to our Country. There is now over $15 million in the scholarship fund for the students as they come of age.

 

Support our Troops : Many events each year are planned and executed by our staff to show appreciation and provide special opportunities for those actively serving in the military.

 

Leadership Academy : A program for high school students in which they are encouraged and trained to serve their country.

 

These programs would not be possible without the support of Mr. Hannity and many others.

We are proud of our work and numerous accomplishments. We are grateful to our supporters whose voluntary contributions make it possible and we thank you. While it is discouraging to have our record misrepresented in such a malicious way, our work is important and, with your support, it will continue.

 

Respectfully,

 

Thomas P. Kilgannon Oliver L. North

President Founder & Honorary Chairman

Freedom Alliance v 22570 Markey Court, Suite 240 v Dulles, Virginia 20166 v (703) 444-7940

I do not know where the truth lies.  But I have to admit that, having read this response, I'm feeling a good deal less queasy/more assured than I was before. 

How about you?


FREEDOM RIPOFFS?

Ken Berwitz

Are the "freedom concerts" which are run, and promoted, by Sean Hannity being grossly mismanaged?  Is the lion's share of $$$ winding up in pockets other than those of the people these concerts are supposed to help?  Is Hannity personally involved?

I certainly hope not.  These are ugly charges.  But the following report by American Spectator's John Tabin (who, though he doesn't use her first name, seems to be quoting investigative work by Debbie Schlussel) makes me depressingly pessimistic about them:

Hannity's Big Rip-Off (UPDATED w/ Possibly-Exculpatory Info)

This is disgusting. Apparently Sean Hannity's Freedom Concerts, which are supposed to raise money for the children of soldiers killed in action and for severely wounded veterans, are scandalously inefficient:

In fact, less than 20%and in two recent years, less than 7% and 4%, respectivelyof the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferret the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style. And, despite Hannitys statements to the contrary on his nationally syndicated radio show, few of the children of fallen soldiers got more than $1,000-$2,000, with apparently none getting more than $6,000, while Freedom Alliance appears to have spent tens of thousands of dollars for private planes.  Moreover, despite written assurances to donors that all money raised would go directly to scholarships for kids of the fallen heroes and not to expenses, has begun charging expenses of nearly $500,000 to give out just over $800,000 in scholarships.

It gets worse the deeper Schlussel digs:

The stories of injuries to troops and how much Freedom Alliance gives them$200 for a soldier from a poor neighborhood who lost three limbsis heartbreaking.  Soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, severe wounds to the face from disfiguring burns and explosions, and multiple amputations got $1,000 or less, with only a handful of exceptions.

Click through for all the details. As Schlussel points out, reputable charities are expected to run with overhead of no more than 25%; these concerts are running with overhead of as much as 96%. I suppose it's possible that Hannity himself wasn't aware of what the balance sheet looks like, but a source tells Schlussel that Freedom Alliance founder Oliver North confronted Hannity at one point about how much of the charity's money was being spent on private jets, luxury SUVs, and hotel suites. If that's true, Hannity has a lot of explaining to do.

UPDATE: I'm hearing from reliable sources that Schlussel's suggestion that Freedom Alliance pays for Hannity's travel expenses is wrong. There's little doubt that, if the numbers she cites are correct, the charity is seriously mismanaged, but it might not be as bad for Hannity personally as Schlussel's report makes it look. Stay tuned.

I don't know where the truth lies.  So I will wait and see how Mr. Hannity and the people around him respond.  That's only fair.  

But I do not like the smell emanating from this supposedly benevolent charity, and have a very bad knot in the pit of my stomach.....

free` Debbie Schlussel has had a problem with Hannity for many years now, so I to will wait for more info to come out about this before deciding. (03/19/10)

free` Hannity charity fights 'smear' Blasts charge $15 million fund for soldiers' kids' college a scam Posted: March 19, 2010 2:58 pm Eastern © 2010 WorldNetDaily Sean Hannity A extensive report charging money donated to the Freedom Alliance and its scholarship programs by Sean Hannity and as a result of his work has been diverted is being blasted by the organization itself. In a headline piece on its website today, the alliance refutes a "blog posting" that makes accusations money intended for student scholarships was spent on other expenses, including the personal expenses for Hannity to travel and participate in fundraisers. "Freedom Alliance has distributed $3.4 million in scholarships and created a Scholarship Trust Fund with the additional money that we have raised for that program. That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of which has been raised by Hannity and the concerts," the statement, signed by Alliance President Thomas Kilgannon and Founder Oliver North, said. "Our scholarship program is managed with the understanding that it will be needed for at least the next 20 years as there are children who will ultimately receive a scholarship who are now only a few years old. As indicated on our Federal Form 990, these funds are restricted and used only for future scholarships." The statement continued, "Our Scholarship Fund is one of four programs operated by Freedom Alliance. Supporters may donate to a specific program or for general operating purposes. In 2008, Freedom Alliance received $2.1 million in scholarship donations. The same year, we awarded $802,250 in scholarships and applied $1.3 million to our Scholarship Trust Fund." The charges had been leveled by Debbie Schlussel on her website. Yesterday, she charged, "For the last several years, Sean Hannity and the Freedom Alliance 'charity' have conducted 'Freedom Concerts' across America. They've told you that they are raising money to pay for the college tuition of the children of fallen soldiers and to pay severely wounded war vets. … But it's all a huge scam." She charged that less than 20 percent – "and in two recent years, less than 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively – of the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferry the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style." Specifically, she charged that a source told her "there'd be a lot more money every concert to go to the cause if Hannity didn't demand – and get – use of a Gulfstream 5 plane to fly him and his family/entourage to the concerts; a 'fleet' (that's the word the guy used) of either Cadillac or Lincoln SUVs for him and his family/entourage; and several suites at really expensive hotels for him and his family/entourage." She reported she "began investigating these claims" to find out "Freedom Alliance gives very little money to the children of slain troops to pay for college and even less to wounded troops." "False and malicious," was the conclusion of Freedom Alliance. "The blog posting accuses our friend Sean Hannity of personally benefiting from Freedom Alliance. This is FALSE. Freedom Alliance has never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean. Sean gets nothing from Freedom Alliance except our gratitude for his personal generosity and for all he has done to help the troops and our organization. … But to be clear Sean pays for all his own transportation, hotels, and all related expenses for himself and his family and friends and staff, which over the years has added up to tens of thousands of dollars. He does not use any Freedom Alliance Funds or Concert funds in any way, period," the organization stated. Further, "Sean Hannity has contributed $100,000 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, over $200,000 to the Freedom Alliance, and over tens of thousands of dollars to other military charities and individuals. We only make this information public because of the outrageous slander against him. Sean has no management or operational involvement in, or control over, Freedom Alliance. He has been a selfless patriot in his efforts to raise funds for the education of children of armed services personnel," the group said. It released figures, too, showing that in 2008 the group spent $6.7 million, including $5.3 million on program activities, $945,000 on fundraising and $481,000 on management. The organization distributed $3.4 million in scholarships and created a trust for additional scholarships to be paid in future years. "That fund now contains $15 million, over $10 million of whicih has been raised by Hannity and the concerts," the posting said. At the Radio Equalizer, the "incendiary" charges were described as being "refuted." "Interestingly, one left-wing site actually casts doubt on Schlussel's reporting: Media Matters. From their analysis, which ultimately spins back toward the leftist agenda: 'Unfortunately, Schlussel doesn't provide any documentation for the assertion that Freedom Alliance claimed in writing that 100 percent of donated funds would go to scholarships, so we don't know if it's true.'" The Freedom Concerts have been promoted with the assurance the benefits are used to provide scholarships to those whose parents have been killed or severely injured in their service to the United States. The organization said its Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, Support our Troops effort and Leadership Academy "would not be possible without the support of Mr. Hannity." (03/19/10)


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