Webb brings veterans fundraising issue to feds’ attention
Edited by Chris Graham
Following a multistate investigation into the legitimacy and fundraising practices of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has brought the organization’s questionable activities to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service and requested a full report of its findings.
A 501 (c)(19) registered organization, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association has been under scrutiny since March, when the St. Petersburg Times, later joined by The Roanoke Times, began investigating the organization’s fundraising, its lobbying to relax laws covering VSOs in states such as Virginia, and the authenticity of its national and local leaders.
In response to a request from Sen. Webb on May 18, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs removed the Navy Veterans Association from its website and launched a review of the group as well as a review of procedures used to properly screen similar organizations.
Sen. Webb, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, sent the following letter to Commissioner Douglas Shulman:
May 28, 2010
Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20224
Dear Commissioner Shulman:
I am concerned about a 501(c)(19) organization allegedly providing services to veterans in Virginia. According to recent press accounts, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA), otherwise known as “U.S. Navy Vets,” is under investigation in at least three states for its legitimacy, fundraising activities, and expenditures on behalf of veterans.
As the enclosed St. Petersburg Times article notes, the USNVA filed a tax return for their Virginia chapter claiming that the group provided services to 2,204,405 Virginia residents in 2009. However, there is little evidence of services being provided on such a vast scale.
In addition to questions regarding USNVA’s services to our veterans, investigators have been unable to locate individuals who purportedly serve on USNVA’s various boards of directors because addresses and other legally required information have not been accurately documented in the organization’s tax filings.
Despite these alarming reports, tax records indicate that the USNVA has solicited millions of dollars from Virginians and residents of other states for its programs.
I know you share my concern that we should minimize the opportunity for unscrupulous organizations to mislead or exploit our nation’s veterans. Therefore I would appreciate your prompt attention to this matter, in accordance with all applicable rules, regulations, and statutes. I would also appreciate your furnishing me with a report of your findings.