State Representative Dave Yaccarino (R-87) today joined his legislative colleagues who voted unanimously to pass a bill that will help veterans by allowing honest charities to continue good work on their behalf while punishing those who fraudulently profit at their expense.
H.B. 5298 An Act Concerning Fundraising By Veterans’ Organizations prohibits any person, firm, or corporation from holding itself out to be a veterans’ charitable organization and, with the intent to defraud, soliciting charitable contributions that benefit or profit any person, firm, or corporation other than the veterans’ charitable organization.
“Our veterans deserve our support and this legislation will help honest charities continue to provide much needed services and financial help while punishing those who try to take advantage of their dedication, service and effort,” said Veterans Committee member Rep. Yaccarino. “The punishments this bill establishes for misrepresenting a veterans’ charity shows we, as a state, respect our veterans’ selfless commitment to protecting our country.”
A violation is considered a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months’ imprisonment and up to a $500 fine, or both. The bill defines “veterans’ charitable organization” as any person, firm, or corporation that is or holds itself out to be established for any benevolent, educational, philanthropic, humane, scientific, patriotic, social welfare, or advocacy purpose relating to or on behalf of veterans. The bill also specifies an organization must have three years of good standing before being recognized.
Along with the establishment of penalties for fraudulent representation of veterans’ charities, this bill also requires the Department of Veterans’ Affairs commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Consumer Protection, to publish a list of preferred charitable nonprofit corporations on their websites by July 1, 2013.
“Providing an online database of registered, recognized charities as a reference makes sure people know exactly where their money will be going when they donate to our veterans,” Rep. Yaccarino said. “Only one percent of all Americans serve in the armed forces and we must do all we can to help our veterans and their families.”