The Attorney General’s office released a list of the worst charities in Missouri. Worst being defined by how little the charity actually does for charitable purposes. The #1 worst charity? Missouri Chapter of the United States Navy Veterans Association
Now, the USNVA caught my eye for a reason I will reveal shortly.
The Missouri Attorney General’s office Check-A-Charity page for the Missouri Chapter of the USNVA has a pretty low-key notice at the bottom
So, if you followed the encouragement, you would find this:
A man who falsely identified himself as “Bobby Thompson,” director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, is wanted by Ohio authorities, and Attorney General Richard Cordray is turning to Ohio veterans – the group that the imposter cheated – to help find him.
“There are almost one million veterans who live in Ohio,” Cordray said. “Those are men and women who put their life on the line for our country. The man who presented himself as ‘Bobby Thompson’ traded on their honorable reputation and service to benefit himself.”
Hmmm… let’s dig deeper here.
“Bobby Thompson” (name presented in quotation marks due to his lack of a known real name).. now if you look him up in relation to the USNVA, you find that the St. Petersburg Times had their own reporting on this matter:
The Navy Veterans group lists 85 officers in its national headquarters and state chapters, but the Times could only find one of them, Bobby Thompson, who operated out of a duplex in a low-income area of Tampa.
Ok, so a charity, with problems with fraud and identity theft.. and one where 80+ people are listed but only one may have actually run things.. but I know where I know the name “Bobby Thompson” from… America’s Most Wanted!. Yes, if your charity is headed by a fugitive from justice who was featured on America’s Most Wanted, it’s probably a good candidate for “worst charity”.
But while searching around for more info on “Thompson” and Missouri, I found this list of “Bobby Thompson” political contributions, including the following lines.
5/6/2009 Friends of Steve Tilley for Missouri House $2,000
5/15/2009 Ron Richard for Missouri House $2,000
6/15/2009 Kevin Engler for Missouri State Senate $2,000
Hey, I know those names for some reason!
So, three of the most powerful men in the Missouri legislature got checks from this guy from Florida, who made no other Missouri contributions, probably never lived here (under any identity), and who operated a fraudulent charity with a Missouri chapter. You can go to the Ethics Commission site, search under the name “Bobby Thompson” in 2009 donations, and verify the reporting of the St. Petersburg Times about the donations.
And that’s where the storyline goes cold. Why did someone whose activities have led him to become a nationally-featured fugitive wind up donating money to the Speaker of the House, the House Majority Floor Leader, and the Senate Majority Floor Leader? Admiration of the 2009 session? Random chance? Did “Thompson” feel one of the bills being considered at the end of the 2009 session by the House had relevance to his operations? “Thompson”‘s political contributions mainly focused on his home state of Florida, and Virginia where he’s also suspected of lobbying for passage of a bill to loosen rules on charitable solicitation, and where recipients of his money gave it to legitimate charities.
The USNVA is under investigation in Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia. With 41 state chapters, there’s likely to be more investigating to be commenced in regards to a person whose fraud may have come close to 9 digits (“Since 2002, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association has reportedly raised nearly $100 million nationally”)
Considering the time of the year, and what we now know about Mr. “Thompson” and his activities. I think some charitable giving of $6,000 by 3 officials would be in order.