The Spectacle Blog

Hannity’s Big Rip-Off (UPDATED w/ Correction)

By on 3.19.10 | 10:15AM

4 PM UPDATE:

Readers:

Information regarding Freedom Alliance that appeared earlier in this spot was innacurate or misleading and has been removed. Any further mention of this material as having appeared in this post will either mention or disavowal or be deceiving to readers.
-- R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

Click here for the update to this story.

Click here for the statement released by Freedom Alliance.

3:30 PM UPDATE: Just to be clear, the story below appears to be fundamentally flawed. You'll see that if you follow through the links at the bottom, but I wanted to add a note up here so no one is misled.

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%, respectively–of 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 Hannity’s 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 limbs–is 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.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Further exculpatory information here. Schlussel's story seems to be falling apart.

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