A spokesman for the Disabled National Veterans Foundation says both the email and Facebook account of its president, Precilla Wilkewitz, were hacked on Wednesday after an e-mail containing lyrics of a George Michael song were sent to CNN Correspondent Drew Griffin.
In a statement issued by Dan Rene of Levick Strategic Communications, the Chief Administrative Officer of the charity said “bizarre and nonsensical communications were sent from the account when it was outside of her control.”
“The hacker damaged both Precilla and DVNF’s reputation,” the statement went on.
CNN has been reporting on IRS 990 forms filed by the charity since 2008, which show almost $56 million has been received in donations for the past three years, yet showing little if any direct cash contributions to veterans in return during the same period. The forms show most of the donations have been were paid to the direct marketing firm hired by the charity, Quadriga Art LLC.
In addition, CNN interviewed local veterans’ charity organizers who said they had received shipments of goods that in some cases were temporarily beneficial. But according to J.D. Simpson, executive director of the Saint Benedict’s Veterans Center in Birmingham, Alabama, his group received cough drops, surplus Navy dress shoes and more than 11,000 bags of coconut M&M’s. In another instance, an Arizona veteran’s charity received a shipment that included chef’s coats, aprons and chefs hats, for which the DVNF claimed a value of more than $800,000 on its federal income tax filings.
CNN’s Drew Griffin received an e-mail from the AOL account used in past communications by Ms. Wilkewitz the day after his second report on the charity had been aired on the Anderson Cooper 360 broadcast. The e-mail contained the lyrics to a 1980s song called “Careless Whisper” by George Michael. Griffin asked Wilkewitz if she would appear on an upcoming broadcast to answer questions about the charity.
“Yes all we have to say right now is the Careless Whisper lyrics, although we will come up with more later, thank you,” an e-mail from the Wilkewitz account said.
The statement from Rene, received Thursday afternoon went on to say, “We want everyone to know about our programs, services and direct financial support we provide to veterans and the positive impact we have made in the lives of thousands of individuals and families. DVNF strives each day to pursue its mission to improve the lives of our American veterans.”
The charity said both the e-mail account and Facebook page of its president “had to be temporarily shut down.”
There was no response to CNN’s reporting on the group’s failure to provide direct monetary relief or aide to veterans groups.
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