(CNN) – Shocking revelations about a charity set up to help those who deserve so much. A group called the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation raised more than $27-million over the past 4 years, but only a very small fraction of that money has actually gone to help our veterans.
In fact, in 1 year only 2 percent of the donations went to vets and their families. Also, the person leading this group is a lawyer for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
On its website, the National Vietnam Veteran’s Foundation looks like a true blue, all American agency dedicated, as it says to “aiding, supporting, and benefiting America’s veterans and their families.” However, take a look at its IRS filings, and you will wonder, like we did, just exactly which veterans are getting all the benefit.
Thomas Burch is listed as the president. He is a veteran. So is his vice president, a man named David Kaufman. Together, they run a charity that in 2014 took in more than $8.6-million in donations. They each got paid $65,000 a year in salary. They spent $133,000 in travel expenses, $16,000 for telephone, $21,000 for unnamed “awards,” and $70,000 in categories described as “other” expenses.
They even expensed nearly $10,000 for parking. Perhaps for this Rolls Royce, which we’ll tell you more about in a moment.
Almost all the rest $7,736,000 paid to professional fundraisers. How much money was actually given to anything related to charitable works for Vietnam veterans? $122,000 in small grants. That’s $122,000 out of the nearly $9-million taken in in 2014. Do the math: less than 2 percent.
Michael Thatcher, CEO of Charity Navigator said, “It’s a zero-star organization. And you can’t go lower than that.” Thatcher said even among bad charities, the National Vietnam Veteran’s Foundation is truly one of the worst. “If one truly cared about Vietnam veterans is this an effective way of actually making a difference for these people? I don’t think so and I can’t justify it.”
To get an explanation we came to the suburban Washington home of the charity’s president Thomas Burch, where he was parking a Rolls Royce, with the license plate, “My Rolls.”
There’s something else you should know about Thomas Burch, because it turns out running his charity is only a sideline. He’s actually a federal worker, a paid government lawyer working for none other than the Department of Veterans Affairs. Yes, you heard right, the man who runs one of the worst charities for veterans, works at the agency dedicated to veterans.
According to the VA, it’s not a “conflict of interest for a VA employee to also serve as a charity officer.” After CNN asked about Mr. Burch’s charity, and his six-figure income job here at the VA, we are told. “the department is reviewing this particular case.”
As for Burch himself, he never returned our calls. We instead got a statement from the NVVF vice president David Kaufman who sent us a description of what he said were the charity’s good works:
Feeding homeless veterans and unemployed veterans and their families by donating to food banks. Sending personal care kits to hospitalized vets. Handing out donated blankets, hats and gloves to homeless centers.
And yes handing out that tiny-tiny fraction of that $8.6-million in actual cash grants, which believe it or not, even included giving $11,000 in emergency funds to the brother of the man in that Rolls Royce.
The VA’s inspector general’s office says it’s now looking into this case.