July 3rd, 2012
09:35 PM ET

Ask questions before donating

Anderson Cooper asks Art Taylor and Bob Ottenhoff what donors should consider before contributing to a charity.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
July 3rd, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Letters to the President #1261: 'A brighter day'

Reporter's Note: Each day I sit before my computer and compose a letter to President Obama. It is possible that each day he sits down with a cup of tea, his dog by his side, and reads it with great consideration. But probably not.

Dear Mr. President,

The lights are back on! They flared to life just before midday after we spent our fourth fitful night in a house that was as hot as a stolen car. But I am ahead of myself.

As you may know from yesterday’s letter, we were left without power on Friday night when that string of storms swept through, and despite our best attempts at patience, each hour in the roasting oven did little to improve our moods. The power company had little information to offer, and even that changed dramatically every few hours.

“Hey, when do you think our lights will be on?”
“In thirty minutes!”
“Oh wait, I just got an update. It will be November, 2014.”

It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was pretty awful. Last night when I finally made it home around 10 only to find that darkness still prevailed, I was fit to be tied. Despite opening every window in hopes of catching even a breath of air, the house was stifling; so much so that around 2:30 in the morning I walked out onto our front porch and sat there reading "The Guns of August" by flashlight.

The whole neighborhood, as I noted in yesterday’s letter, was also without electricity, so every house was illuminated by only the moon and stars. I would say it was dark and silent, but in the face of these superheated days, a fair number of folks on my block broke down and bought generators, so along with the crickets, I heard two or three little engines purring away in the blackness.

After a while I grew tired of swatting bugs away from pages, so I clicked off the flashlight and just sat there sweating and looking at the night. It was weirdly very nice. I mean, not so nice that I want it to happen again any time soon, and not so nice that my frustration with the power company’s performance has improved…but still…

And now we have our electricity back. Air conditioning. TV. Cold beverages in the refrigerator. Warm showers.

Hope all is similarly well with you. I’m guessing you never lost power at the White House, but then I suppose that is a different story…

Call if you can. The phone is fine now.


Tonight on AC360: Charity Cheats?
July 3rd, 2012
02:02 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Charity Cheats?

When you open your heart and wallet to help a charity, how do you know your money will be put to good use? Tonight we'll bring you a special investigation into charities accused of collecting millions of dollars in donations and not spending it where donors expected.

One of the charities under scrutiny is the Disabled Veterans National Foundation or DVNF. CNN's Drew Griffin discovered there is no sign any of DVNF's cash donations of about $56 million over three years went directly to veterans. Not one dime. Due to CNN's reporting, the Senate Finance Committee is demanding answers from DVNF. The committee is requesting records relating to their fundraising and marketing activities to see if the foundation abused its tax-exempt non-profit status.

Drew tried to get a response from the president of the group, but she slammed a door in his face. So, we tracked down the vice president. You'll hear what she has to say about where all the money is going tonight on the program.