Veterans charity banned from state for 15 years - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Veterans charity banned from state for 15 years

Veterans charity banned from state for 15 years

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

A South Carolina veterans charity has been banned from soliciting money for 15 years for violating the Charitable Funds Act, Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced Tuesday.

According to a press release, Hammond said that his office has reached a settlement with the Veterans Support Organization, a charity that has been active in South Carolina since 2011. 

As part of the settlement, the Veterans Support Organization agreed to an administrative fine of $5,000 and a ban from soliciting in the state for the next 15 years.

Earlier this year, the Secretary of State alleged that the Veterans Support Organization, or VSO, failed to register its employees as professional solicitors, as required under the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, according to a press release.  The Secretary of State also alleged that the VSO had misrepresented the percentage of the money it spent on charitable programs. Rather than registering its employees as professional solicitors, the VSO agreed to exit the state of South Carolina. 

The charity did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the agreement.

According to the last financial report filed with the Secretary of State, most of the money the VSO spends on its charitable programs is used to pay "jobless veterans and other needy Americans" to solicit contributions for the organization. 

Although VSO employees are not necessarily veterans, they typically wear military-style uniforms when soliciting in front of popular retail establishments or on the street, Hammond said.

"As part of this agreement, the Veterans Service Organization is prohibited from soliciting charitable contributions in South Carolina for the next 15 years," Hammond said.  "I always ask South Carolinians to be vigilant anytime a charity asks for money."

Anyone who sees the VSO soliciting in South Carolina is asked to call the investigations division at (803) 734-1728. 

"We need your help to protect the interests of donors and to hold accountable charitable organizations that violate the law," Hammond said.

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding a charitable organization may contact the Secretary of State's Division of Public Charities at (803) 734-2170 or charities@sos.sc.gov. To search all charities registered to solicit in the state of South Carolina click here or go to www.scsos.com and click on "Charity Search."  To view a list of charities suspended from soliciting in South Carolina, click here or go to www.scsos.com, look for the "Public Charities" tab on the left; then "Suspended Charities" in the pull-down menu.

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