Kamala Harris says a charity for veterans has been misrepresenting records to the IRS and the board members are lining their personal pockets.
Watch Drew Griffin's investigation into the accusations against the charity, Help Hospitalized Veterans.
Editor's note: Watch Anderson Cooper's interview with California's Attorney General. She tells him why she wants the charity board members fired.
California authorities are taking a controversial veterans' charity to court, accusing it of paying officers "excessive" salaries and making "imprudent" loans, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, to a leading conservative activist's company.
In a civil lawsuit announced Thursday, the state attorney general's office asked a judge to remove the president and the entire board of directors of Help Hospitalized Veterans. The complaint asks for the board and president to pay more than $4 million in penalties to compensate for "misrepresentations" in solicitations by the charity.
The charity "has helped some veterans," Attorney General Kamala Harris told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." But she said nearly two-thirds of its revenue went to overhead, and the officers named in the complaint "have basically been lining their pockets off the compassion that Americans have for our veterans and servicemen and women."
CNN's Drew Griffin explains why the Senate Finance Committee is investigating DVNF and evaluating its tax-exempt status. He and Anderson Cooper respond to accusations made by the group on Twitter and their website.
Standing amid pallets of bottled water, suntan lotion and boxes of candies, Roy Tidwell says he is providing a service that can't be duplicated: shipping needed goods to dozens of charities at a low cost.
"Well, my portion of it is getting goods to help people who are suffering, goods that I can deliver for pennies on the dollar," he said. "And most places that get them are very appreciative."
Tidwell runs Charity Services International, which he says has 50 clients, all charities, including the Disabled Veterans National Foundation and SPCA International.
His business is in the middle of a debate over how charities put a monetary value on the items they donate.
In one instance, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, using Tidwell's organization as a broker, shipped what it claimed were more than $800,000 worth of goods including chef's coats, hats and football pants to a small charity called U.S. Vets in Prescott, Arizona, in 2009.
After trying for months to take a first-hand look at the source of those donations sent around the nation by the Disabled National Veterans Foundation, we were finally allowed exclusive access to a small company based in South Carolina whose owner says he is proud of what he does.
The company is called Charity Services International and on the day we visited, we saw a lot of bottled water ready for shipment. We also saw candy—boxes and boxes of M&M’s and Three Musketeers. And we saw carton after carton of hand sanitizer and suntan lotion. We also saw hundreds of “Rambo” T-shirts.
Amid an ongoing congressional probe into the General Services Administration, a CNN investigation has uncovered more evidence of wasteful spending at the agency, including cooking classes for employees that cost as much as $3,350 per class.
For years, the GSA paid to send employees to these cooking classes to build team spirit, part of a spending pattern that the agency now says was inappropriate.
Employees based in Kansas City, Missouri, attended classes at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, located in suburban Overland Park, where they cooked meals.
The GSA confirmed that there were nine classes beginning in June 2007, with the last class in June 2011. The total cost to the GSA was $20,701.
"We should be thinking about our federal customers, our taxpayers and our associates," said one employee who attended a cooking class. "And that seems to have been lost in these team-building exercises ... If you don't go, you're ostracized."
CNN's Drew Griffin investigates crimes at sea. He talks to a former cruise ship security guard who says women are targets, and he interviews a teen who says she was sexually assaulted on a ship.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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