Attorney General Ellison permanently bans two charities that deceived Minnesotans about supporting families of fallen police officers
Obtains settlement that permanently bans two related charities from soliciting in Minnesota, requires one of them to pay back nearly $300K solicited from Minnesotans
December 20, 2019 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that Ramsey County District Court has approved two settlement agreements that permanently ban American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, Inc. (“AFPCC”), and related charity National Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc. (“NACOP”), from soliciting charitable contributions in Minnesota. AFPCC is also required to pay restitution in the amount of $298,637 — constituting every dollar that Minnesotans donated to it in the last six years. AFPCC and NACOP’s primary officers and directors also agreed to permanently refrain from doing business in Minnesota.
“Police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to us,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Any charity that takes advantage of their sacrifice to raise money from generous Minnesotans had better tell the truth about where those donations are going. These folks repeatedly lied to Minnesota donors that all they were doing was supporting the families of fallen officers, when they barely did that at all. We kicked them out of Minnesota permanently.”
In October 2018, the AGO sued AFPCC for deceiving Minnesotans in multiple ways, including by misrepresenting that donations would only be used to help families of police officers killed in the line of duty. However, the vast majority of AFPCC’s charitable program spending — 83% — went to paying its fundraisers and other for-profit agents to send mailers with claimed “public education” content, not providing aid to police families. The AGO also alleged that AFPCC misrepresented to donors that their money would be set aside for families in the donor’s local city or county by advertising an “Area Appeal” or “special campaign” for the families in a donor’s local area. In reality, donations were used for all of AFPCC’s expenses nationwide, and were not set aside for any specific city or state. Although NACOP was not a party to the AGO’s lawsuit, an investigation revealed that NACOP, which has a similar mission and which is run by the same leaders as AFPCC, used similar deceptive tactics.
The AGO also alleged in its lawsuit that AFPCC failed to make disclosures in its solicitations as required by law, failed to file accurate financial statements by claiming it spent more on its charitable programming that was actually the case in order to appear more efficient to donors and watchdog groups, and violated a 1996 Consent Decree resolving similar alleged misconduct.
If you donated to AFPCC in the last six years, you may be entitled to obtain restitution (e.g., a refund payment) under the settlement. The Attorney General’s Office will contact you about your options. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the settlement you may contact Assistant Attorney Carol Washington of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office at (651) 757-1298 or (800) 657-3787.
Tips before donating to charities claiming to help first responders:
- Do your homework first. Investigate how a charity actually uses donations that it receives. People can research this information using the “Search for Charities” tab of Attorney General’s website, www.ag.state.mn.us, or by calling the Attorney General’s Office at (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787.
- Be wary of high-pressure tactics. Don’t feel pressured to donate on the spot just because a charity claims to have an urgent need. This should be especially true if the person asking for money contacts you through unrequested telemarketing calls or mail solicitations. Reputable charities will happily accept your donation when you are ready to give.
- Contact your local first responders. If you can’t tell if a charity asking for money for police officers or firefighters will actually help those that serve your community, call your police or fire department and ask. They can tell you if they are familiar with the charity and if it supports their agency.
People may report complaints about similar situations to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by calling (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787. People may also file a complaint on the Attorney General’s website. For more information, contact the Attorney General’s Office:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
(800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
(800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay)