Sean Hannity’s ‘Freedom Concert’ Charity Series Accused of Improprieties
March 19, 2010
(ChattahBox) – Those “Freedom Concerts” across America that conservative talk show star Sean Hannity has hosted for years, are supposed to help the children of fallen soldiers pay for college and to pay for the medical care of wounded veterans. But according to conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel who tends to operate on the fringe, “it’s all a huge scam.” Schlussel claims, “While Hannity’s Freedom Concerts take in millions, only a few hundred thousand go to the claimed intended recipients.” She came to this conclusion after going through the tax returns of Freedom Alliance, the charity that helps Hannity throw the concerts, and found that less than 20 percent of the money raised goes to these causes. For example in 2006, Freedom Alliance raised almost $11 million, but only $397,900 was donated to children of fallen soldiers or to injured veterans. $979,485 was spent, meanwhile on consultants, and more than $3 million was spent on postage and shipping and printing. In 2008 Freedom Alliance tax forms show they took in $8,781,431 in revenue and gave $1,060,275.57 total-or just 12%-to seriously wounded soldiers and for scholarships to children of the fallen.
Schlussel notes that, reputable charities are expected to run with overhead of no more than 25%, while these supposed charity concerts are running with overhead sometimes over 95%. While you might be thinking Hannity himself might not be aware of these expenses, 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. Not to mention another source tells Schlussel that Hannity demands a private jet and a fleet of Cadillac or Lincoln SUVs to transport him to the concerts. Media Matters, who no one is likely to accuse of favoring conservatives like Hannity, points out that while Schlussel’s number crunching checks out, but Freedom Alliance’s mission is broader than scholarships and aid to injured soldiers (a fact Schlussel may have overlooked), so it’s certainly possible that it is spending an appropriate proportion of its revenues to advance that mission. You can read the details of Schlussel’s report here.