July 25, 2011; Source: Allaccess.com | A good aggressive attorney general is worth his or her weight in gold where raising consciousness and maintaining ethical standards is concerned. Chris Koster, the Missouri Attorney General is taking a hard line against those who have established fraudulent charity efforts associated with the tornado in Joplin Missouri. He has filed a lawsuit against two disaster fundraisers, including Steven Blood AKA Woody Nelson, an internet broadcaster who, among other things, announced a fundraising concert complete with artists who were actually already booked to perform elsewhere. None of the paltry $5,000 he is estimated to raise has gone to disaster victims. He says he is covering his own costs first but Koster seems unfazed by the small size of the scam or “Cowboy Bill’s” excuses. “Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy,” Koster said, “Protecting the citizens of Joplin is this office’s number one goal, and we will be aggressive in going after those who engage in charity scams or other fraudulent behavior affecting Joplin’s recovery.”
Koster has appealed to the court to require that the money raised be forwarded to the intended recipients. He is also asking the court to order the defendants to provide full restitution to donors, pay a penalty of $1,000 per violation, pay a penalty to the state, and cover all court costs.
This kind of reprehensible behavior follows nearly every disaster. We applaud Koster for taking a hard and high profile position on this. Meanwhile there are plenty of others not posing as nonprofits trying to make a buck off the situation and Koster has them in his sights also. –Ruth McCambridge