SC Secretary of State says veterans group committed violations

A charitable organization new to South Carolina gets pointed out for violations.

In a letter to the Veterans Support Organization, the South Carolina Secretary of State's office listed five state codes the non-profit organization is currently violating.

The five violations include:

-failing to register those collecting donations as "professional solicitors" with the Secretary's office.

-failing to file written contracts or agreements with those collecting donations and the Secretary's office.

-misrepresenting of the percentage of contributions used for the VSO's respondent's program services to Col. Robert T. Hawkins, a citizen of South Carolina.

-misrepresenting of the percentage of contributions used for the VSO's respondent's program services to William C. Matthews, a citizen of South Carolina.

-falsely printing matter belonging to Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center for the purpose of soliciting or inducing contributions from the public.

The Secretary's office requested the VSO discontinue all the prior listed violations within 15 days or be subject to an administrative fine not to exceed two thousand dollars for each violation.

NewsChannel 15 reported other veteran's organizations cried foul when they learned that some of the people collecting donations for and receiving from the VSO were not veterans at all, and those collecting donations kept 30 percent of the donations collected.

Organizations like the Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center say the VSO is also deceptive in how it collects money. Men and women collect donations on the highways dressed in camouflage even when they are not veterans.

If you'd like to read the Notice of Violations sent to the VSO in it's entirety, click here.Secretary of State Mark Hammond says, "I'll leave it up to the public whether or not to donate to this charity." But when asked if he would personally donate, he said he would not.

T hese violations in S outh Carolina and fines in other states have forced them to find a new chief financial officer who plans to change the entire company.

"I can absolutely see us taking that model and shifting it and bring that percentage(the 30 percent to collectors) down," says acting and new CFO Kimberly Silva . "And instead of funding programs that help one person, the collective dollar with that percentage would help a great deal more people."

Silva speaks candidly about the leaders of the VSO before her, and when asked what was wrong before she responded "everything".

"The organization that was handling it , not only do they not understand non-profit organization and development , but they were really not well suited for the growth of the organization," she says.

Silva adds, "This is something that is easily rectifiable. I don't know why it took so long to get this straightened out because as soon as we got the heads up this isn't the way we need to do things in this state, we should have immediately attended to it."

Do you think it is deceptive for the VSO to dress up non-veterans in military uniforms to collect monetary donations?