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BREAKING  MULTI-PART ARTICLE ON
THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES ATTACK
ON THE ASSOCIATION
 
BY HOPE MERRELL OF
THE VETERANS' ISSUES NEWSTAND
 
MAY 25, 2010, WITH UPDATES
 
 
 

Newspaper Attacks Florida, the Country and Veterans!

Our Response:

 

WHOA MOMMA!

 

WHAT A  PACK OF LIES AND POPPYCOCK!

 

ATTEMPTS TO POLITICIZE THE LAW ENFORCEMENT PROCESS AGAINST REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES AND THE  CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT.

A constitutional coup d’etat against all our freedoms.

 

AN ATTACK ON AN INNOCENT NAVAL GROUP FOR JUST DOING ITS JOB, FOLLOWING THE LAW TO THE LETTER, AND HELPING VETERANS

 

by: Hope Merrell

Veterans Issues Newstand Money and Finance Newsdesk

and Newstand Staff

For the Times and the Newstand:

 

 

The St. Petersburg Times ("SPT"), in a series of articles published in March, 2010, written and researched primarily by Jeffrey Mill Testerman, accredited by the SPT as an “authority” on public records and non-profit finances, launched what can only be described as a massive attack written almost entirely in the manner of opinion and subterfuge designed to create the impression actual facts were being presented, with as many cans of black spray paint they could carry, covering close to 80% of two days’ worth of newsprint, and drawing in the same two days, approximately 17, that’s, let us repeat, 17 individual responses in favor of the SPT nationwide, most of whom, based on their email addresses, were either fanatical followers of this peripatetically leftist, more big government regulation propaganda newspaper, or individuals who could not spell straight or, third category, individuals who deal in profanity and hate-talk ('kill them," "hang them," "shoot them") as a commonplace in their lives, on the legitimacy of the US Navy Veterans Association, an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(19) war veterans’ organization (and not what the IRS calls a “true charity”) and one of its former directors for development, Bobby Thompson. The Association knew the attack was coming as early as August, 2009, when Testerman verbally assaulted Thompson by name in front of his former residence in Tampa, Florida, on a warm and sunny afternoon.

                                                                                                

The Start:    

 

 

                  Jeffrey Mill Testerman, a 30 year veteran of Times reporting

 

Initial Undertones of Racism against

African and Native Americans

 

 According to Thompson, Testerman,                       

a burly man with a Machiavellian look to his eyes,                 

called Thompson out by his name, who was speaking   

on his cell phone in front of his concrete house for

better reception.  Thompson didn’t know the man, and he was clearly an uninvited guest,

but the man acted like he knew Thompson. (Acting like they know you is often a method of operation of fraudsters who want something out of you.)

 

Thompson, who has a naval intelligence background, deciphered the man had researched Thompson’s photo from somewhere. OK.

 

After identifications, Thompson, who feared and does fear nothing, and had given interviews to numerous reporters previously, and who had nothing to hide, determined he would talk to Testerman as long as Testerman wanted and about anything Testerman wanted to talk about. He invited Testerman inside; Testerman declined. (To this day, Testerman has never been inside this former Thompson residence and has no personal or direct knowledge whatsoever as to what was or was not going on inside.)

 

Although Thompson, as one of five members of the Board of Directors of the National Association at the time and the appointed Director at the time (one of three) of the Florida Chapter of the Association, continued to talk to Testerman for about 45 minutes, Thompson quickly ascertained that that was a mistake:

 

Testerman shortly became agitated as Thompson quietly and forthrightly denied accusation after accusation Testerman was putting forth as part of his “newsgathering.” Q: Did Thompson conspire with Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White, an African-American man, to start a fake Navy group to support White (White had run in political campaigns in Tampa since 2003, and was running at the time for re-election in the November, 2010 election.)? A: No. Q: Did Thompson know White was never in the Navy? A: White was in the Navy and served honorably.  Q: How did Thompson know White? A: The St. Petersburg Times glowingly endorsed him in his first race in 2003, and he is a Navy man. (Testerman’s face turned beet red.) Q: Did the Association make an illegal $500 contribution to one of White’s political campaigns in March 2009 (over four months prior to the August “interview”) (Testerman had briefly interviewed Thompson on his publicly listed telephone number the day before, merely asking the same question)? A:  (Fearlessly, from Thompson’s memory) No, it doesn’t make contributions, although being an Internal Revenue Service regulated 501(c)(19) organization, (unlike a 501(c)(3)), it probably could; the contribution Testerman was referring to was made from Thompson’s personal funds, and Thompson made it a habit to enclose a note in writing  with all his political contributions that they were made out of personal funds. (Thompson found Testerman’s question fishy since, for a reporter of a certain age, he did not seem to have any comprehension of the different requirements for a 501(c)(3) versus a 501(c)(19), a subject on which Thompson was very fluent.)  Q: Why did White list the contribution as coming from the Association? A: Thompson didn’t know; probably a clerical mistake; Thompson frequently enclosed his business card with his personal contributions, political, charitable or otherwise. Q: Was the contribution made in cash or by check? A: Thompson said he made it a practice not to make cash contributions to politicians, so it was either by check or, if Thompson had insufficient funds in his checking account and had cash available, he would have purchased a money order. (Thompson later checked, found out the latter was the case and notified Testerman of the same the next day). Where did the money come from? A:  From Thompson’s personal funds, his personal income and his personal assets. (Thompson is what is loosely referred to as a "trust fund baby," and also has his own independent sources of income.) Thompson then asked: What are you implying? Testerman: No response.

 

It got worse from there. Testerman was clearly veering almost exclusively into ad hominem attacks on White and Thompson. Thompson: 'Where is your evidence for all these accusations?' Testerman: No response (There never was one, according to Newstand sources.)

 

Testerman continued with more and more belligerent questions, dealing with Thompson’s naval background, White’s naval background, Thompson’s and White’s children, ( Later Testerman would call all over the United States and England asking questions about Thompson's handicapped daughter, and also write a story accusing White's minor children (c. 16 and 10 years old) of taking money illegally from White; to this day nobody in their right mind knows what would possess anybody to do these things other than sheer mean-spiritedness or racial vindictiveness.) (Thompson found these latter inquiries to be personal, intrusive and abnormal for a reasonable reporter, but Thompson knew he was not an expert on what passed for reasonableness by modern American reporters), White’s previous campaign finance reports, campaign finance law, the history of the US Navy Veterans Association, and other matters. All the questions seemed to Thompson not only to be accusatory, but also to specifically reflect a mindset of someone out to prove a pre-conceived hypothesis, as opposed to someone merely neutrally gathering facts. As an American  who found himself by chance in these circumstances, Thompson’s overall opinion was this just was not right. To fight against foreign murderers like the Viet Cong, cold-blooded killers who had shot dead Thompson's buddies in Vietnam, who also believed in a one-party press; the same idealogues who killed his fellow Americans on 9/11, was exactly why he had become one of the founding members of the "new" Association in the first place.

 

Then Testerman approached Thompson menacingly, according to Thompson, eyeball to eyeball. Q: You’re Choctaw Indian, aren’t you, and you worked for the Choctaw Gaming Commission? A: Thompson: I’m one –sixteenth Choctaw and never worked for the Gaming Commission; that’s probably a relative you’re confusing me with. Q: So you never bribed White to bring Choctaw Gaming to Tampa, correct? A: Thompson: I never bribed White to do anything and never asked him for a favor in my life. (Thompson was also, at the time, a voting member of the NAACP, a group the US Navy Veterans Association had also made a previous grant to.)

 

Testerman: “You could have fooled me.” (According to reported stories in the press, the SPT, it turned out subsequent to this interview with Thompson, had a history demonstrated in numerous Times’ articles as far back as 1997 of going after the Seminole Tribe of Florida, trying to prove they were guilty of theft and misrepresentation, and making similar charges personally against then Seminole Chief James Billie. These articles also alleged that the SPT had tried to invade the privacy of the Tribe (unsuccessfully) to get illegally, according to the stories, confidential tribal budget and medical information dealing with tribal members. www.freedommag.org, December 2009 edition.)

 

 

Thompson: “Have a good day.” Entered his house, shut and locked the door.

 

Remembering the words of the great Spanish writer George Santayana that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it, Thompson recalled that a press pretending to be neutral while promoting its own agenda was straight out of the early days of Hitler’s Der Sturmer and Lenin’s Pravda (aka the”Truth”).

 

As stated, Thompson talked to Testerman the next day on the phone.  Testerman ended that conversation with a question: Q: One more question, then I’ll leave you alone…: A. Thompson cutting him off, “Sure you will,” and hung up.

 

The above are just basic facts. How would you feel if they had happened to you? This all sounds pretty personal to this reporter. What do you think? I can be reached at merrell@navyvets.org.

 

Thompson’s version of this so-called interview, once disseminated within the organization, laid the groundwork for almost all Association policies toward the SPT and Testerman thereafter, including the personal refusal of four out of five National Association directors, as well as many, but not all, of Association officers at the State Chapter level,  to “talk with” Testerman, and the decision to make the Association’s General Counsel the exclusive point of reference for all of the legalistically worded accusations it did not take a rocket scientist to figure out were likely to come. The SPT’s idiotic response: because they refused to submit to this waterboarding technique of fruitless and wife-beating “questions” by Testerman and Company, they didn’t exist. (See future stories, Privacy Policies of the US Navy Veterans Association on our background facts, as to our members, officers, donors and beneficiaries.)

 

A "wife-beating question" is like "How many times today did you beat your wife?" If you answer, 'I didn't beat my wife,' you are dignifying the questioner with an answer, and he will say, he tried to deny it, see, he's guilty. If you refuse to answer, he will say, he refuses to answer, see, he's guilty. No matter what the questionee says or does, he's guilty. It is a technique used by fraudsters, especially fraudsters masquerading as real newsmen.

 

The Association was right in August, 2009. And it is right today. One does not voluntarily subject oneself to trickery, artifice, wife-beating questions or waterboarding as an “interview” technique from a hostile or biased source, and anybody who says otherwise is, in plain language, nuts. Privacy of the individual, and of private groups, in this country, the right of the individual or such a group to protect himself,  herself or itself against harassment, verbal or physical, from the state, or from a press agent asserting state-powers or the threat of state-powers, trumps “transparency” every time. That’s this Newstand's position. That's what the Association promised its members and donors at the outset; and that's what they told the association they expected. And we’re both sticking to it. And we are certain every newspaper in this country asserts exactly those same rights for themselves. Poynter Institute, the owner of the SPT, has refused to let Association lawyers interview the Chair of the SPT; Poynter Institute and SPT officials never returned telephone calls from this Newstand's reporters; Testerman first provided Poynter Institute tax documents with blank spaces and missing data throughout, to the Association; and then subsequently said he was not working for Poynter Institute and would provide no further information; this Newstand's requests for the tax returns of  the SPT, and for an audit of the financials for both the Poynter institute and the SPT were all denied.

 

The Immediate Aftermath: The SPT did a series of articles on a sexual harassment civil lawsuit against White and the Hillsborough County Commissioners, the allegations of which, by comparison to Bill Clinton, in the Monica Lewinsky incident, would have made Clinton look like the monster from the blue lagoon. Liability was established by a jury in the amount of $75,000, a sum more than quadrupled by the trial judge by adding in the plaintiff’s lawyer’s attorney’s fees. (The judgment would later be called a finding of “guilt” by an SPT reporter, a term reserved exclusively for criminal trials.)

 

In the SPT’s articles, according to Thompson, black people were made to look like fools who attacked each other on demand. Immediately after the trial, Testerman’s story on White and Thompson came out with blaring headlines on the first page, based on the Thompson interviews. The story made it sound like White was just another black person lying about serving in the Navy. 

 

 A six-month long investigation by the Association of Testerman and SPT previous reporting substance and style turned up later the fact that Testerman apparently sat out the Vietnam War with an entitlement to a 2-S student deferment, and left  his university without a degree almost identical to the time the draft ended. Thompson, on the other hand, joined the Navy underage, in the '60s, over 40 years ago, as his great-grandfather had done before him. To do that, he had to use a relative's I.D. While he did join for patriotic reasons, the fact is he did that, and it's done; Thompson does not regret joining; he does regret the fact he may have broken the law to do so, and apologizes to any family member who might hold it against him.  

 

In Thompson’s opinion, Testerman’s article slandered White and deliberately created the misimpression Thompson, who supported White, and does support him to this day, was attacking or denouncing White, when nothing in fact could be further from the truth.

 

Testerman also blew up three signature samples (one from Thompson) from those out of hundreds he had before him, to show similiarities in large circle type handwriting examplars. He omitted to show the remainder. this is childish manipulation of data, ax-to-grind-libel-by-omission reporting, and it disgusts, at least, this reporter.

 

If I want, I can take your handwriting sample and compare it ludicrously with samples from the other 8 billion people who live on the earth today, and the other 8 billion who have predeceased us, and find similiarities. Anybody who says that beyond a reasonable doubt two of those similiarities mean it is the same person who wrote them, so-called expert or not, will be viewed by many as, quite simply, a pants-on-fire liar who probably also believes in ouija-boards or truth-o-meters.

 

Buried at the bottom of a secondary page in the SPT the same day, August 28th 2009, was a story that a hometown jury that same week had awarded a $5 million punitive liability judgment against the St. Petersburg Times for libeling a VA official at the Bay Pines facility in 2003. It was coupled with a $5.5 million compensation award for the SPT victim. The VA official had been accused by the SPT in multiple articles of theft, skimming funds, malfeasance and sexual harassment. The SPT had used an internal VA investigation of the official to buttress its accusations against the doctor.

 

Shortly after August 28th, Testerman did another story on White in which Testerman and the SPT implied the SPT's  major black competitor newspaper in Tampa was guilty of fraud because it used a photo shopped cropped photo of African-American officeholders. (The March 2010 SPT story on Thompson prominently displayed a photocropped picture of Thompson.)

 

The Association began preparing for what a 3rd grader could have told everybody was about to come.

 

It shortly did.

 

It was vicious. It was accusatory as a matter of preconception. It was argumentative. It was racist. It was politically motivated. It involved an Internal Revenue Code

 501(c)(3) charity, the Poynter Institute (the 100% owner of the SPT, the only such arrangement of its kind in the United States) being heavily involved in political endorsements, lobbying, making dollar payments to influence others as to their positions, e.g., by making unheard of contributions to the City of Tampa to pull a financially hard-strapped ice-hockey oriented venue out of its difficulties (and getting both the arena and a street named after the SPT in the process), actively advising political candidates at the local school board level as to what to say and think, and other campaign activities. It involved tax evasion by the Times and its owner, and it involved repeated attempts to get licensed attorneys to violate bar rules pertaining to attorney-client privilege, numerous allegations of fact which were later dropped or redacted as clearly being false, the fraudulent filing of, and failure to file, income tax and other regulatory filings by both the Poynter Institute and its wholly-owned subsidiary companies, in the opinion of the Association.

 

And now, this reporter has learned, it may have involved a surreptitious attempt by the SPT to get Florida county charges of voter fraud brought against Thompson and, even worse, to get him disenfranchised as a voter.  Attempting to interfere with someone's right to vote on racial  or ethnic grounds (see the Thompson interview above) is prohibited by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This deliberate blurring of the lines between a newspaper and law enforcement in this country is one reason this reporter wrote this headline: A Constitutional Coup d'Etat, for this story.

 

The one thing all this did not involve, however, was “newsgathering.”

 

In six months of Association non-stop written and telephonic exchanges (over 10,000 pages worth) with the SPT and its people, something almost nobody else would have bent over backwards to do, the SPT's positions were, no matter what the evidence presented was, (a) you’re lying as to everything and (b) whatever you are counter-accusing the SPT of doing, it applies to you and not ever to us, and we don’t have to answer any of your questions, or anybody else’s, for that matter.

 

Sounded like, excuse us, exactly what  Dick Cheney said when Saddam Hussein said he didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. It turned out he didn't.

 

In those thousands of pages of written and email correspondence, by the way, Testerman, the expert on military and veterans' affairs, rank and service, the "authority" on public records and non-profits, the man who wrote article after article about public figures misspelling and misentering names and data on government and bank forms (accusing them of fraud), and the Times' nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, repeatedly spelled:

 

"Communication" as "comminication;"

"Generally" as "generaly,"

"Statements" as "stataements,"

"Officials" as "offcials,"

"Characterization" as "characaterization,"

and, top this one,

"Florida" as "Floirida."

 

We're not making this up. Some expert!  Some Pulitzer!

The man can't even spell.

 

We're glad they got that hopey changey abc gadget working again for the final print!

 

Here is Thompson's Op Ed piece in full on the Testerman stories, as of the date of the piece:

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                            April 29, 2010

Op Ed Editor                                                                                                                                                                 

Joe Guidry

Tampa Tribune

200 South  Parker St.

Tampa FL 33606

 

The Florida Chapter of the US Navy Veterans Association is submitting the following as an op ed piece relating to some recent news stories:

 

There is an attack dog on the loose in Tampa/St. Petersburg.

 

It’s not a pit bull or Rottweiler.

 

It’s the St. Petersburg Times.

 

For example, the newspaper recently ran a series about the Church of Scientology and accused its leader of violent behavior.

 

The paper, however, according to sources close to the Church, never bothered to interview the target of its three-month long investigation, a violation of the most basic ethics outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists. The church leader had agreed to the interview but the paper simply ignored the opportunity.

 

Then the paper turned its focus on the Republican Party of Florida and its key people, and others, including the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a Tampa and Washington, D.C.  based veterans’ organization with 40 separate chapters across the country, which raises funds across the nation to benefit all those who have served our country, and speaks out as to its members’ mission for American patriotism and national security.

 

And, like a rabid dog, the newspaper’s reporter tried to strong-arm the Association’s leader and its board of directors into talking about their non-profit work.

 

Instead of calling the Association’s leaders to request an interview as most reporters would normally do, the Times reporter, Jeff Testerman, simply showed up on the doorstep of one leader’s home and started firing off questions, raising his voice at times and verbally assaulting this Navy association leader.

 

Like a salivating Rottweiler, the reporter blasted off one question after another, displaying that he had clearly had his mind made up about the Association. As a result of the reporter’s clear-cut bias, the board of directors of the Association declined to show up on demand and answer any of his nonsensical and hostile questions. This was a blatant attempt to bully and intimidate, to cause people to lose their right of speech and expression and association, and has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate newsgathering.

 

Then the Times, in late April, did a story on their rival, the Tampa Tribune, making it sound like they were going out of business.

 

The U.S. Navy Veterans Association has a long history of giving support to veterans, ranging from donating vans to those who are paralyzed from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to sponsoring July 4th celebrations.

 

Instead of giving the Association credit for its good works in his March 2010 series, Testerman buried examples of its good works as far down in his stories as possible. Once again, the Times violated the most basic tenants of journalism by failing to balance its reporting.

 

In its quest for a Pulitzer Prize, the Times published a hack job.

 

One reason there are no restraints on this news organization is that it has no ombudsman, a person on the inside who investigates complaints from its readers and members of the public, and who examines issues about fairness, accuracy, balance and precision. Many major papers, including the New York Times, have ombudsman and give them the freedom to examine journalistic issues.

 

Like much of it’s so called “investigative reporting,” which did not garner a Pulitzer Prize this year despite it’s futile efforts, and in the face of what some say is over-representation and influence on the Pulitzer Committee, the Times’ report on the Association failed to uncover any substantial issues or specific proofs of wrongdoing and was based, instead, almost entirely on insinuations.

Whenever those who believe in the regulation of man by man want to chill others’ freedoms of speech, expression and association, the first thing they immediately yell is “fraud,” in a political effort to shut their enemies up.  Testerman is on record calling the all the candidates supported by individual members of the Association “starkly conservative.” These included political figures such as the current Mayor of Tampa, Florida Democratic House member, and former General Counsel to the Association Daryl Rouson and Hillsborough County Commissioner, and Obama supporter Kevin White.

 

Testerman himself sat out the Vietnam war in college and university.

 

The Association is an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(19) war veterans’ organization. It has been in good standing with state and federal authorities across the United States and it is continuing to raise funds despite the Times’ massive attack. But some of these authorities have at least read Testerman’s hatchet job,  and those that have asked the Association questions solely as a result of it, and not because of any complaint from a donor or member, have been and will be responded to politely and in accordance with law. None of that changes what we have to say here.

 

To assure the public that the Association is complying with all of the state and federal laws governing 501 (c)(19) organizations, it has also retained an eminently credentialed independent auditor who will go over all the organization’s records, books and financial accounting. The Association is confident the auditor’s report will result in a clean bill of health.

 

The question that remains unanswered is the motive behind the St. Petersburg Times’ rabid attacks against charitable organizations like the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.

 

Could it be that the St. Petersburg Times is guilty of the very fraud that it claims to be uncovering? The Times is owned and operated by the Poynter Institute, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that must comply with federal laws.

 

The Chairman of the Poynter Institute Board, Paul C. Tash is also the Editor, Chairman and CEO of the St. Petersburg Times. The St. Petersburg Times is owned and operated by a wholly owned subsidiary corporation of Poynter, the Times Publishing Company.

The Times engages in, and has engaged in, substantial political activities, including, but not limited to, overt political endorsements for candidates running for elective office, as well as lobbying activities far in excess of what are permitted activities for 501(c)(3) organizations.

 

The profits of the St. Petersburg Times are believed to provide the overwhelming  means of support for Poynter, according to published financial analyses.

 

Mr. Tash has complete control of Poynter and Poynter has complete control of the St. Petersburg Times.  The fact of this total control is substantiated by former Poynter Chairman, and Times CEO Andrew Barnes, who said in a 1999 www.tampabay.com piece posted on the Poynter website, that the Poynter Chairman (who is also always the Times CEO) is the “one person” who has total “command” of both Poynter and the Times.

 

Mr. Barnes says in the same article that the Poynter Chairman, by reason of the sole fact that he is the Poynter Chairman, sets his own pay and compensation, appoints everybody else in both organizations, and has the sole power to, and does, appoint his own successor.

Today, in effect, Mr. Tash, who earns slightly less than $600,000 a year, has top-down control of both the Poynter Institute and the St. Petersburg Times.

 

The bottom line is that there may be more than meets the eye when it comes to the Times attacks on other charities and non-profit organizations. State and federal regulatory authorities should investigate the Times’ relationship to the Poynter Institute.

 

And people who live in glass houses should not cast stones.

 

The outcome of the Times’ attack on the U.S. Navy Veterans Association has overtly been to try to get members and donors, state regulators and even beneficiaries to shun  or attack the Association. This is not law, folks, this is politics. Bill Clinton may have coined the term “policy wonk,” but the fact is Tash & Co. have taken it to a whole new level in Florida. As we’ve said here, the Times does not write newspaper stories. Instead, it conducts campaigns designed to influence the outcome of political, legal and social events to the liking of its leadership and to further the outcome of itself and the Poynter Institute having near exclusive control over news and editorial related information, at a minimum, in south central Florida.

 

In their openly bragged about quest to take over “news” dissemination as we know it, their website and newspaper lectures and hectors and self-righteously commands the public and policymakers to obey daily, on every conceivable moral, policy and political issue known to man. As Testerman said to one of our members who did elect, on April 27, 2010, to ask him not to print personal information about him, and I quote, “You don’t have any choice when you’re speaking to me.”

 

And everything is argument.  Argument that someone is stealing; argument that someone is supporting political candidates Testerman & Co. don’t like; argument that business expenses are income; argument that people don’t exist because they won’t speak to people like this reporter; etc., on and  on, ad infinitum and ad nauseam. This is not “research;”  it’s the creation of a laundry list of everybody else’s faults, “everybody” being defined as people we don’t like, but never us.  The entire newspaper is editorial.

 

The Times’ organization is not a “news” group, folks. It is a political party. And it’s controlled, despite their misrepresentations on the subject, by one man, and only one man, who “commands” solely because he is the head of the “charity” which runs the Times. In the old Soviet Union, guilty of trampling on the rights of man, their newspaper was called Pravda (the “Truth”).

 

One of the major purposes of the Association, registered with the IRS and state authorities without objection since at least 2004, is to provide “…news and analysis pertaining to the value of [Association] goals, and other issues of interest to veterans, service members and the patriotic public.”

 

The real story, of course, is something that the Times will ignore as its pit bulls move on to maul their next innocent victims. We’re pretty sure they have already got them picked out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/

 

 

Bobby Thompson

Director, US Navy Veterans Association

Florida Chapter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further stories to follow:

 

(2) Backgound on the US Navy Veterans Association,

 

(3) Background on the St. Petersburg Times and Its One-Person Owner, the Poynter Institute and Paul C. Tash, a true one-man Charity; and then 

 

(4) A Parsing Refutation of our Opponent's Arguments: There is Nothing Wrong with Us: Your Money Goes Exactly Where We Promised; We Need to Turn the Spotlight on Their Scam Instead.

 

The war on the individual in this country is coming, folks, and it's exploding right before all the eyes of the world in St. Petersburg. It's a war already organized by people who believe that the regulation of man by man is a good policy idea. Here's a direct quote to that notion from the Association's Homeport page posted originally there in 2002. It is still there:

 

"Ten Americans once set sail upon a great sea. Their common purpose was to reach a shining city on a hill they could see, far away, on the other side of the sea.
But, as they were sailing a great storm, a great tempest, came up, and their ship began to circle itself and drift. The Americans became angry with themselves, and started to blame it on each other. They did silly things, like tweak each other's noses, and post bumperstickers on their foreheads denouncing each other.
Then two of them, one black, one white, two big women, let's call them Marian and Kate, stood up in the boat and , in a loud and magnificent voice, a capella, began to sing the most beautiful rendition of "God Bless America" you ever have heard. The other eight suddenly stopped their feuding, stood up, placed their hands on their hearts, and listened to the words. When the song was over, all of them...all of them, began rowing as one toward the shore of their dreams....
They haven't got there yet, but they are still trying, and we'll keep you informed on their progress.

To us here at the United States Navy Veterans Association, it does not matter whether your mother came here on the Mayflower, or on a slave ship from Africa.

We're all in the same boat now. 

Update, and it's pretty clear: As of January 2009, this country pretty much returned to its pre-9/11 state of mind, the bumperstickers, attacking and vilifying each others, treating foreigners who hate the U.S. as if they have the same rights as us, giving our largesse to foreign blackmailers who say if we don't they will overcome us, ignoring their crimes in their countries, while throwing our own people, as the new enemy #1, in jail, for far, far less. We believe that we may all need enemies; the problem with many Americans is that they think the enemy is us."

This Newstand believes that the freedom of man is the idea that makes this country a shining city on a hill, and that our calling is to light that lamp of liberty everywhere, for all the world to see; to spread and preach that mission, that policy message worldwide, as our foreign policy. In that positive and universal message lies our real national security. Not merely killing Usama bin Laden or 'preventing the Taliban from re-establishing a foothold in Afghanistan.' Not in Real I.D., the Patriot Act or more cops in the New York City subways searching bags. In that message, and in the global spread of that message, lies our real hope.

The SPT believes otherwise. they have mocked the Association , made false financial claims against it, made politicized accusations against it to get back at the "Right" for the "ACORN" Scandal, and allegations against the above message of Association members in print, implying those members are violent criminals or fraudsters. Those people are not, and never have been. It is the SPT's message about the Association, and not the Association's  about them which is, to use President Obama's word, "false."

Nothing about this is new. It is exactly what the thug press of Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy did to the domestic policy enemies of their regimes, and exactly the same accusations being made, fraud, etc., designed to censor their ability to talk, to live and to engage in their primary purpose, to spread the legitimate ideas of patriots in the free marketplace of thought and speech. These are notions of freedom this Newstand or Association never denied them, or asserted should be denied them, in ten years of 'operating under their radar.'

When politicized elites yell "Fraud" at the top of their lungs against others who disagree with their substantive viewpoints, it is time for all of us to say, "Whoa, Momma!" On either side.

Beware of the one-party state, America! Obesity is not in the interests of our national security, as First Lady Michelle Obama says. Neither is internet censorship, as Secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has said. And neither is yelling "fraud" at your fellow Americans with a primary speech mission because they oppose your ideas.

 
Part 2 of 4:
 
April 5, 2010:
 

Facts about the US Navy Veterans Association:

 

-          Its five originating predecessor organizations were founded in 1927. That fact was registered with the IRS in 2001 and again in 2003 without demurral.  Its long and detailed history has been publicly available on www.navyvets.org (over 8,000 pages long if printed out), or its predecessor sites,  for over ten years, and was easily accessed by using any one of a number of recognized search engines, including Google, during that time .  If Lexis-Nexis has not recorded that history, that’s a problem with Lexis-Nexis, and not with us. That history reflects a membership of approximately 45,000 individuals today, with perhaps another 66,000 others going back to 1927. All those individuals are, or were, real people and not fictional people. Most of them took, or take today, the position that a “liberal” press is a slanted press out of touch with the average American and not somebody they would want to, or would, talk to under any circumstances.   They take the position that their forefathers who died in combat to keep us free also died to keep our individual privacy intact as part of our fundamental freedoms. Most of those loyal, non-violent Americans also take that same attitude toward big, over-regulatory government. These are the same people represented in districts of Texas where only 5% of the population will fill out census forms in 2010. Their loyalty and patriotism, however, is not in doubt, at least not to the Association.

      

-          The same website contains over 200 thank you notes from around the country and the world, with photo after photo, from recipients of largesse from the Association, and other beneficiaries and friends,  including veterans, active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, their families, government leaders, heads of state  and recognized institutions. Our “In the News” page, which can be accessed from the Site index page, as well as the State Chapters page, and the “Thank You” page, contain recent news article after article on our mission statement activities, including news articles from “People” magazine, “Navy 230,” one television channel and others. We regret that a self-proclaimed authority on public records in Tampa was not able to access any of these.

 

-          The same website contains a Homepage Forum where any member of the public can criticize us as they choose. The Association has never ever deleted any such criticism on the Forum other than for profanity. The website also contains a prominently displayed Governmental Disclosures page where the regulation of non-profits in the U.S. is briefly and accurately explained, and where the public is invited, state-by-state, and jurisdiction by jurisdiction, to click on the particular identified law enforcement agency for that jurisdiction if they have any complaint about the Association. No other charitable organization in the United States, to our knowledge, does this. You might excuse us, but this hardly sounds to us like a charity which is shrouded in secrecy or attempting to fly under the radar.

 

-          It is a private membership organization, and not a government body or public officeholder, with over 45,000 members today (an average “state” membership of about 900) composed 97.5% of  present or past members of the US Armed Forces or their lineal descendants.  It has places within its ranks for patriotic non-veterans, as authorized by Congress, and finds it disgusting when any American, veteran or not,  tries to pit American non-veterans against veterans, or vice-versa. Evey American who died on 9/11/2001 wore the cloth of their  country. The privacy of Association members, and Association  donors, is protected by the Privacy Policies of the Association, which can also be found prominently displayed on www.navyvets.org.  The Association does not, for example, release the names or identities of either our members or our donors to anybody without their explicit permission and direction, or as required by law. We do not see how we could keep the confidence or trust of either our membership or our public donors by doing otherwise on the demand of a newspaper which said they were going to “expose” us if we refused their demand. These privacy policies are like the ones recommended, but not required, in writing, by both the IRS and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. The latter two recommendations are the sources for our privacy policies. We believe that the privacy of the individual, a right recognized in our Constitution in cases as disparate as those dealing with charitable solicitations and a woman’s right to choose, trumps any phony demand for “transparency” put forward by a newspaper.

 

-       Primarily it operates out of the home-offices of its officers and members. The donations of these facilities to Association operations is without any tax-deduction claimed by anyone. It does so to save on administrative expenses, so that  more of it's donors' and members'  dollars can go where they want: to program services as opposed to admistrative fees. It has an approximately 80% "pie-chart" analysis of program expenses from Guidestar as a result.

 

-       It does not exist to acquire assets, or build large monumental buildings to house its staffs.  It considers those to be  a fraudulent  expenditure and a waste of its donors' amd members' dollars. Not one of its officers lives a "lavish" lifestyle, or lives in a mansion.  Most live in rental housing.  None drives a "luxury" car.  None owns a boat or yacht.  The American Institute of Philanthrophy gives an automatic "F" rating to any charity which has amassed more than 5 years' worth of annual income reserves in assets. The Association is far, far, far under that figure.  The Poynter Institute, by itself, on the other hand, the 100% charity owner of the SPT, has 7.25 years worth; counting the assets of the SPT conservatively, it has 26 years' worth.

 

-          It has 39 state chapters, all of them separate legal organizations from the National Association, with their own boards of directors, plus a legally separate Support Group, the majority owner of the publishing company for the Times. They file, combined, over 5,000 pages of regulatory documents with over 30 government agencies in the United States each and every year, calling for, among other things, a  ridiculously detailed scrutiny of the lives, persons and backgrounds of its officers, directors and key employees, their finances and their policies ranging from everything from racial discrimination,  grants, grant refunds, documents and document retention, political activities, employee and former employee compensation, self-dealing, and  on up to whistleblower policies. The charitable sector in the United States is by far the most over-regulated sector of the American economy. The National Association by law provides general supervision to its state chapters. If this was all the work of one man living in a little house in a low income neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, which is theoretically possible, then he was clearly working overtime. And regardless of whether he was working undertime, overtime or otherwise, he could have been compensated a lot.  But he wasn’t compensated anything. All staffers with the Association are volunteers.

 

-          Those regulatory documents require full disclosures of our leadership, their identities, and their street and mailing addresses, our contracts, and our finances, just like they do for all registered charities. Just one of our IRS Forms, for example, is approximately 80 pages long.  All these current forms are a matter of public record, easily accessible by any newspaper in the land, or member of the public. Any statement to the contrary is false.  Any statement that officers required to be listed as a matter of law do not exist, or are fictional, is false.

 

-          Our primary, and IRS approved mission, is educational and not the making of gifts to individual veterans or members of their families, although the latter is certainly also included in our mission statement as a program activity, as are the social and recreational activities of our members. (All of this has also been prominently displayed online on www.navy vets.org on a page prominently labeled “Mission Statement, Who We Are and What We Do,” for over ten years.):

 

The Mission of the Association, which is an activity-oriented description of its goals, and the goals of its State Chapters, as currently approved by its voting membership, includes:

The support, as the Association's primary and encompassing mission, of  educational communication for policies and public support enhancing the cause of the United States of America, and of Liberty, in the world, the cause of naval power, a strong national defense vulnerable to none,  the Navy mission as a keystone of that defense, and the remembrance of the service of the American Veteran;
 
The support of the needs of the U.S. Navy;

The provision of assistance to disabled and needy war veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces from all service branches and to their dependents and to the widows and orphans of deceased veterans*;

The provision of entertainment, care and assistance to hospitalized veterans or members of the U.S. Armed Forces from all service branches*;

The provision of programs to perpetuate the memory of deceased veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces from all service branches, and to comfort their survivors*;

The sponsorship of, or participation in, activities of a patriotic nature;

The support of legislative action to provide to our service personnel, veterans, and their dependents, widows and orphans, the remuneration and benefits they truly deserve;

The provision of social and recreational activities for Association members; 

and

The provision of nonpartisan education, news and analysis pertaining to the value of these goals, and other issues of interest to veterans, service members and the patriotic public.
 
 
 
 
The Executive Board of the Association, by unanimous public resolution January 21, 2005 has added the following quotation to the current Mission Statement as a fundamental part of its First Article:
 
"From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time."
 
- President George W. Bush
Inaugural Address
January 20, 2005
 

flagbar.gif

 

The United States Navy Veterans Association, while officially supporting the mission of the United States Navy since 1927, is not an official part of any United States Government agency.

It is a U.S. Government qualified tax-exempt, tax-deductible veterans' organization.

  The Association mission is “Educational,” not in the sense that it teaches geometry, but that it promotes patriotism and American national security, to both members of the national and international public, and to policymakers concerned with the same, and  brings them both news and its analyses about the same. The best definition of patriotism is simply “love of country.” Association members and donors, many of whom shed their own blood for this ( and it wouldn’t make any difference whether we had a membership or donor base of one person or three million persons on this subject) believe that love of America means love for Freedom, and not the love of the regulation of  the non-violent thoughts or activities of man by other men. If we differ from the editorialists for a newspaper on this as policy; even if we disagree with the President of the United States on this, the law,  our law, protects the right of our membership (and our donors) to that disagreement, and protects our rights to determine  our mission against either a government or a newspaper which wants to determine our mission for us, or to tell us what policies to support or oppose, or to tell our individual members what political candidates they should or should not personally support or oppose.

 

The Association, on average, spends roughly 80% of its total budget on these Mission Statement purposes. Any statement that we only spend 1% of our budget on true program service activities, or that the Association “said”  it spent only 1% of its budget on true program service activities is not only false, but also, just based on the real facts we have presented in this brief Association background piece, appears on its face to be maliciously made by one particular reporter with a personal disdain of one of the Association’s former directors.

 

The detailed Disclosure Statements on the back of all our donor receipts, reviewed and approved by three separate, and independent law offices, before dissemination,  the access to which copy  has also been prominently displayed on the Governmental Disclosures page of www.navyvets.org, clearly tells each donor how their donation is and can be spent. If, however, a particular campaign representative verbally asserts as part of a solicitation, that the solicitation is for a particular program service activity, then 100% of the net funds from that solicitation are spent on that purpose.

 

-          The organization, and all its separate parts, are Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(19) veterans’ organizations.  That section of the Internal Revenue Code places no restrictions on such organizations from engaging in either lobbying or political activities, as opposed to 501(c)(3) charities such as the Poynter Institute, the owner of a newspaper calling itself the St. Petersburg Times. Any statement to the contrary is both false and misleading. The United States Supreme  Court has said on two separate occasions that Congress intended to give special benefits and privileges to veterans’ organizations as opposed to groups like Poynter. The statements contained in the March 2010 St. Petersburg Times article on the Association’s  operations being in conflict with the express provisions of the Internal Revenue Code  were false, and  appear to be maliciously made.

 

Part 3 of 4      April 17, 2010

Facts About the Poynter Institute:


 Commentators have alleged that the Poynter Institute (Poynter) abuses of its  Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status.  The basis of these complaints is that the effective control of  Poynter and its subsidiaries rests with a single individual, Paul C. Tash.  Mr. Tash is the Chairman of the Poynter Institute Board.  Mr. Tash is also the Editor, Chairman and CEO of the St. Petersburg Times. TheSt. Petersburg Times is owned and operated by a wholly owned subsidiary corporation of Poynter, the Times Publishing Company. The Times engages in, and has engaged in since Poynter first acquired it in 1978, substantial political activities, including, but not limited to, overt political endorsements for candidates running for elective office, as well as lobbying activities far in excess of what are permitted activities for 501(c)(3) organizations.

 

The profits of the St. Petersburg Times are believed to provide the sole means of support for Poynter, or the overwhelming majority means of support for Poynter, according to published financial analyses.

 

Mr. Tash has complete control of Poynter and Poynter has complete control of the St. Petersburg Times.  The fact of this total control is substantiated by former Poynter Chairman, and Times CEO Andrew Barnes, who said in a 1999 www.tampabay.com  piece posted on the Poynter website, that the Poynter Chairman (who is also always the Times CEO) is the “one person” who has total “command” of both Poynter and the Times. Mr. Barnes says in the same article that the Poynter Chairman, by reason of the sole fact that he is the Poynter Chairman, sets his own pay and compensation (regardless of where that compensation comes from), appoints everybody else in both organizations, and has the sole power to, and does, appoint his own successor.  In effect, Mr. Tash has top-down control of the Poynter and the St. Peterburg Times. This control legally stems, commentators opine, from the Last Will and Testament of the owner of the St. Petersburg Times, Nelson Poynter, Jr., bequeathing the newspaper to Poynter at his death in 1978, and the original and amended Articles of Incorporation for Poynter.

Poynter refused to provide a full copy of its Form 1023 as originally filed with the Service in 1975 (using the later-changed name, Modern Media Institute, Inc.), it Articles of Incorporation, or  the  amendments to its Articles of Incorporation, when requested. The IRS said it did not have a copy. The redacted copy provided by Poynter failed to provide any reference to the activities of theSt. Petersburg Times.

 

While Mr. Tash controls the operations of the Poynter, records indicate that Mr. Tash receives 100% of his compensation (currently listed at around $600,000 per year) from the St. Petersburg Times, thus permitting theTimes company to deduct that amount as a business expense from its annual for-profit corporate income tax return.  Poynter’s latest filed 990 (for CY 2008) claims Mr. Tash worked -0- hours as the Poynter Chairman.

 

 

Based on the above analysis, the following answers on that Annual Information Return, the full version of which can be found on www.guidestar.org, might appear to be falsely or inaccurately made:

Checklist of Required Schedules: 3,4,16,28a, 28c and 33.

Governance, Management and Disclosure: A1b, A2, A10, B16a and C19.

Part IX, Line 7 ("Salaries and Wages"), Columns A, B and D do not add up.

 

Guidestar gives Poynter's  2008 990 and Poynter's other information  a measly two blocks out of four for depth of data provided. The  US Navy Veterans Association gets four blocks out of four.


 At a minimum, there should be a full investigation for  fraud in the filing of Poynter’s original Form 1023, continuing fraud in the filing of Poynter’s Form 990’s for every year thereafter, income tax evasion by both organizations, and a charitable organization scheme for the private inurement of one person, the Poynter Chairman. Since this information is also filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer services, Florida should lead the way in investigating this enormous and continuing scam.

In May, 2010, simply because of the misrepresentations he read in the SPT attack pieces, especially those dealing with the fact numerous officers and members of the Association refused to meet with Testerman because of his intimidatory demeanor and activities, US Senator James Webb (D.-Virginia), a former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, and now a staunch anti-war advocate, asked the IRS to conduct an audit of the Association. Retired naval officers within the ranks of the Association immediately filed an IRS complaint against the Poynter Institute, asking that the company be investigated, based on the fact it is a one man operation owning and operating a for-profit political and lobbying machine, while masquerading as a charity.

Senator Webb also attacked the Association with the VA and issued statements concerning one recent lobbying effort the Virginia Chapter made in Virginia to expand Virginia's charitable organization reporting exemptions from just city or county veterans' groups to all 501(c)(19) organizations, long overdue in a modern age. Senator Webb implied he was making these denouncements because of his full trust and confidence in the Testerman stories. This is the response, verbatim, on the National Association's and the Virginia Chapter's part on the IRS issue, sent to the Senator:

 

   

                                    United States Navy Veterans Association

                                                                                            

                                                                   Admiral David Farragut Sq NW

1025 Connecticut Ave NW Ste 1000

                          Washington DC 20036

                                                                                                               202-736-1725 (DC)

                                                                                                        202-327-5499 (Fax)

                                                                                                               www.NavyVets.org

 

May 30, 2010

 

The Hon. James Webb

US Senate Office Building

Washington DC

 

Dear Senator Webb:

 

It has come to the undersigneds’ attention that you recently sent to the IRS District Commissioner for DC a request that this Association be investigated.

 

According to published sources, your letter largely relied on a St. Petersburg, Florida Times series of stories containing Mr. Jeff Testerman’s, and the newspaper’s, analysis of the Virginia Chapter’s 2009 IRS Annual Information Return. As you may know, neither the newspaper nor your Office gave anyone the opportunity in advance to comment on that analysis. The analysis largely dealt with Attachment Part II(4a) of the form, commonly referred to by the IRS as a discussion of program service analysis. Both signatories below attended an IRS telephone conference seminar in early 2008 in which this section of the form was described by the IRS representative as a section where the charitable organization could “tell its own story, and even brag about itself.”

 

We find the newspaper’s analysis, which you seem to have repeated wholesale to the Commissioner, to be grossly misrepresentational. The grossness of the misrepresentations indicate circumstantially to the undersigneds at least  a politicized motivation in their presentations (the newsparer is wholly owned by a 501(c)(3) charity, we point out in passing), since the organization’s website, as well as substantive comments in the pertinent Form 990 itself, indicate a promotion by the organization of national security, foreign and military policies made popular by, and during, the George W. Bush Administration, policies we all know are held to be anathema by the paper’s leaders, as well as others.

 

The featured misrepresentation was that the Chapter was claiming in the subject Attachment that over 2 million Virginians had been serviced by the Chapter’s Specific assistance to Individuals Programs. Even a slightly more than cursory reading and analysis of the Attachment shows that this is totally false.  Specific Assistance to Individuals, an IRS concocted term, not a term invented by the organization, as the newspaper continues to imply, is, in dollar amounts, laid out on page 1 of the Attachment. The description of the total number of Virginians served by those dollar expenditure, and non-dollar expenditure, programs  is contained only in part on pages 4 and 5, and totals  exactly 10,531 individuals and, in the case of the flag/wreath laying program, and additional 200 military or naval families. The “2million” figure, on the other hand, is for an “educational” program, which Chapter members participated in, both in contributing to the educational content contained on www.navyvets.org and in Chapter newsletters, in which it was estimated by the National Association and by the Chapter that approximately 2 million “members of the American public” and 200,000 Virginians read or accessed at least some portion of that material.

 

 

 

 

 

The other major line of argument of argument repeated by you was that organization leaders were nowhere to be found. In fact, the Chapter has three directors, one of whom is one of the undersigneds. All three would have been happy, prior to this now national “gotcha” witch hunt to create for the Republican Party a “Republican ACORN” expose, as one newspaper advocate called it,  or a campaign of  politicians  willing and wanting to curry favor with this newspaper, especially those especially interested in the outcome of this fall’s elections, to talk to any truly neutral investigator.

 

As we have. But the privacy of our members and donors is sacrosanct to us, as it should be to all private membership organizations. Anything else would gut their membership, and would constitute nothing more than a suicide pact. None of these people, we point out, is running for elective or appointive office.

 

This organization has met all the requirements of law in this land as to disclosure matters, and continues to do so.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

FOR THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION:

 

 

 

 

Brian Reagan, Secretary

 

 

 

FOR THE VIRGINIA CHAPTER:

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby Thompson, Director & CFO

 

 

cc: IRS District Commissioner, Washington DC

 

 

 

And this is Association Special Counsel Wright's opinion on the VA issues raised by Senator Webb, in a letter sent to VA Secretary Shinseki:

 

 

 

SAMUEL F. WRIGHT

Attorney at Law

437 New Jersey Ave. SE

Washington, DC  20003

(202) 230-7407

(202) 544-3446 (fax)

samwright50@yahoo.com

 

May 21, 2010

 

 

Honorable Eric K. Shinseki

Secretary

Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Ave. NW

Washington, DC  20420

 

            Re:  United States Navy Veterans Association

 

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

 

            I am writing on behalf of the United States Navy Veterans Association (USNVA).  On May 18, 2010, Senator James Webb wrote to you, requesting that the Department of Veterans Affairs remove the USNVA from its list of veterans organizations.  Senator Webb’s negative information about the USNVA is based upon untruthful reports in one newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times.  (Other newspapers have repeated some of the allegations made by that newspaper.)

 

            The United States Navy Veterans Association forcefully denies the St. Petersburg Times allegations.  I respectfully submit that it would be fundamentally unfair to remove the name of the USNVA from your department’s list of veterans organizations, based simply on the unsubstantiated reports of one newspaper, and without giving the organization the opportunity to respond. Such an action would send a dysfunctional message to the other non-chartered, non-government related VSO’s, most of  which have done far less for the VA mission in the private sector than the USNVA.

 

            The USNVA requests the opportunity to meet with an appropriate member of your staff.  The USNVA is prepared to demonstrate that it is a real organization, with real members and leaders, and that it has done and continues to do great things for our nation’s veterans, and has been highly supportive of the VA mission with concrete measures over the years.  Thank you for your kind attention to our request.

 

Very respectfully,

 

 

/s/ Samuel F. Wright

 

Enclosure (just one example of the many great works of the USNVA [photos of SAI recipients])

 

 

And here is Wright's letter to Senator Patricia Ticer D- No. VA), the sponsor of the Virginia legislation, on  Testerman's issues against the Chapter in Virginia. Identical letters were sent to Governor  McDonnell (R-VA), Speaker of the Virginia House Howell (R), Virginia Delegate Chris Jones (R) and Virginia Delegate Gear (R):

 

SAMUEL F. WRIGHT

Attorney at Law

437 New Jersey Ave. SE

Washington, DC  20003

(202) 230-7407

(202) 544-3446 (fax)

samwright50@yahoo.com

 

May 31, 2010

 

 

Senator Patricia Ticer

301 King St., Room 2007

Alexandria, VA  22314-3211

 

            Re:  United States Navy Veterans Association

 

Dear Senator Ticer:

 

            Thank you for your assistance, in introducing and pushing through Senate Bill No. 563.  This new law exempts veterans’ organizations from the requirement to register and file annual reports with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).  This benefits all Virginia veterans’ organizations, not just the United States Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) and its Virginia Chapter.

 

            As you know, the Virginia Senate and then the House of Delegates passed this bill unanimously.  After the bill passed, but before the Governor signed it, the St. Petersburg Times ran two unfavorable stories about the USNVA and Commander Bobby Thompson, the organization’s Director of Development.  I believe that the allegations in those stories, and later repeated by other newspapers (including the Roanoke Times and the Washington Post) are untrue.

 

            I am informed that, after the St. Petersburg Times articles were forwarded to you anonymously, you changed your mind about Senate Bill No. 563 and asked Governor McDonnell to veto it, but he signed it.  I wrote to you at that time, asking you to reconsider your request that the Governor veto the bill.  I regret the tardiness of my follow-up.  I had major surgery on April 22 and only recently returned to work.

 

            The St. Petersburg Times reported that Commander Bobby Thompson has over recent years made numerous political contributions, including some to Virginia candidates, including your own campaign committee.  It has been reported that you directed your campaign committee to donate the amount of Commander Thompson’s political contribution to a “real” veterans’ charity in Virginia. 

 

            Let me reassure you again that Commander Thompson made these political contributions (including the contribution to your own committee).  Commander Thompson made these contributions personally from his own resources, not the resources of the USNVA, its Virginia Chapter, or any chapter.  Commander Thompson is 64 years old and has earned resources over the course of his adult life.  Although he chooses to live frugally, he has personal resources and has chosen to expend some of those resources on political contributions.  The USNVA, its Virginia Chapter, and the other chapters have never reimbursed Commander Thompson for political contributions that he has made. 

 

            Let me also assure you that the Virginia Chapter is a real veterans organization, with approximately 500 members today in our Commonwealth.  For your information, I am enclosing a seven-page excerpt from the 2009 Form 990 filed by the Virginia Chapter on March 27, 2010.  Upon request, I can provide you the entire Form 990, or you can obtain it directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

 

            During 2009, the Virginia Chapter expended $1,635,208 on specific assistance to individuals.  Almost half of that amount ($806,002) was spent sending “care packages” to members of United States Armed Forces deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations.  The remainder was spent providing direct assistance to indigent veterans, members of the Armed Forces, and their families.  The Chapter also contributed $7,500 to the Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs and the Commonwealth of Virginia New Well Fund.  Please see the enclosed report. 

 

            The Virginia Chapter would have been able to contribute much more, but for the unlawful action of VDACS.  In 2004, the Chapter applied to VDACS for an exemption from registration and annual reporting requirements, and VDACS granted the requested exemption, based on the law in effect at the time.  VDACS assured the Chapter, in 2004, that the exemption would remain in effect unless there were a change in the law or a change in the organization or activities of the Chapter, and there was no such change.  In early 2009, without notice or legal justification, VDACS revoked the exemption.  As a result, the Chapter found it necessary to suspend fundraising at mid-year of 2009, and that suspension remains in effect.

 

            The Virginia Chapter was entitled to an exemption even prior to the enactment of Senate Bill No. 563—that new law only serves to make the right to an exemption even more clear and expands the exemption justly to include all veterans’ organizations, not just those limited to operating only at the city or county level. 

 

            Thank you for your kind attention.  Please let me know if you have questions.

 

 

Very respectfully,

 

 

Samuel F. Wright

 

Enclosure (as stated)

 

 

 

 

 Part 4:  A Parsing Refutation of our Opponent's Arguments: There is Nothing Wrong with Us: Your Money Goes Exactly Where We Promised; We Need to Turn the Spotlight on Their Scam Instead

 

When this reporter first started composing this piece, I soon realized that the bodies of Testerman's  hatchet jobs on the Association contained so many lies and misrepresenations usually placed in the form of argumenation designed to make it look like a factual presentation, that I did not know where to begin.

 

Then Testerman sent an email to the Association's General Counsel saying that he and the SPT intended to continue to write negative and accusatory stories against the Association indefinitely. While this merely corroborated the feelings of many within the Association that this was no reporter or legitimate news outlet speaking, but rather an animose campaign machine with no normal regard for journalistic ethics, it readied this reporter to use what Testerman threatened was going to be his next attack article, which actually appeared May 15, 2010,  about the Association's palpably good work in Haiti and some light level lobbying the Association recently carried out in Tampa, Florida, as an example. What I intend to do here is to parse this Testerman's story for its outright falsehoods and then move on to an analysis of how the remainder of the piece is nothing more than animose argument structured around those lies, and some minor truths thrown in for good measure. After that, we'll move on to some generalized analysis of his other articles in summary fashion.

 

But first, the true story of what the Association did in Haiti, dated and bylined, from one of  the National Security Affairs Newstand's reporters:

 

"In the News: The Association in Haiti
March 10, 2010
By: Heather Phillips,  Americas Newsdesk
National Security Affairs Newstand
 
 
 
 
On February 19, 2010, the Association sponsored and accompanied a relief organization led by the Mayor of Coral Gables, Florida, Don Slesnick, to Haiti to help rebuild an orphanage which was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake which impacted the region in January, 2010.  This relief mission was comprised, in part, of Association members, volunteers and representatives, graduate students and professionals hailing from many parts of the U.S., including Florida, Washington DC, Oregon, California and New Mexico, as well as a strong medical contingent from the University of Miami (Florida) Health Center.

On one occasion on  February 20th, a mini-van was packed so full with donations that relief mission volunteers had to sit with boxes in their laps, until volunteers  could hand out everything. On that date, they drove around for 4 hours handing out food, water, clothes, and eventually money to mothers with kids in tent camps. Also, everyone bought food items in the market and intentionally overpaid; $10 for a coke, $30 for a 6 pack of soft drinks, $20 for a bag of fruit. Then they gave everything they bought to Haitians in need on the street as they were looking for the next thing to buy. The children were especially pleased with the  presence of the US Navy Veterans Association, as depicted by the expressions on their faces.

Later that same day, the Association was part of a team which hired Haitian guides to drive them throughout Port au Prince, Haiti, to view the devastation inflicted on the surrounding areas first-hand.  The National Palace, established in the late 1700’s, and where the Haitian President resided, was in ruins.  Other popular monuments throughout the city were also damaged.  Association representatives were welcomed by, and had the pleasure of meeting, and talking with, the Mayor of Delmas province, Jean Gael, at his villa for 2 hours.  The Mayor expressed extreme concern for his people, and described them as hard-working seeking opportunity.  Job creation was the underlying theme expressed by the Mayor.  Further, Mayor Gael stated that job creation was his number one priority.  The Mayor expressed the desire for the Haitian people to understand new industry concepts, so that the people can become proficient enough to export their talents to new markets.   The Association strongly supports national legislation and policy here easing the way for the importation of more Haitian products into the United States.

On Sunday February 21st, the Association took part in rebuilding a concrete wall surrounding the New Life Children’s Orphanage.  The breaches in the wall resulted in mounds of concrete shards and harmful rebar protruding recklessly which could potentially harm the children of the orphanage.  Several volunteers collected and transported the rubble to dump trucks for disposal.  This event gave the volunteers the opportunity to bond with the children of the orphanage, who were grateful to have new companions to spend time with.  Also, the New Life Children’s Orphanage had many child victims of the earthquake within the compound, some of whom held devastating injuries which required many surgeries to repair.  The team members were able to comfort these victims, by cleaning up wounds and spending substantial time entertaining them.

In the afternoon of February 21st, the Association was part of a leadership team which picked up designated supplies of food and water with a truck at Operation Blessings Warehouse near the U.S. Embassy.  Operation Blessing agreed to provide the supplies based on a long-term relationship with Pastor Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries.  The truck traveled through the disaster area Port au Prince south to Carrefour (ground zero) and to Campe de David Compound operated by the Church of Jesus Christ.  The compound is located at 30 Mahotiere 75 Thorland, Carrefour, Haiti.  Approximately 15,000 tons of baby food, rice, peanut butter, MRE’s, and water was delivered, unloaded, and distributed in the camp. 

Relief mission members were scheduled to depart Port au Prince International Airport February 22ndbut due to electronic malfunctions associated with runway lighting, all flights were canceled for the day.  The U.S. Air Force controlled the airport, and provided team members with food, water, and cots to sleep on.  They were especially cordial and congratulatory to Association members.  That night, while volunteers slept on the runway tarmac, a 4.7 earthquake struck at 1:26am EST, which created temporary panic and confusion for all involved.  The following day, mission members  departed for Miami International Airport. 

As part of the mission,  Association representatives had the privilege of meeting, and speaking with, the Prime Minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive. The Association actively carries out advocacy on behalf of its Mission Statement both domestically and internationally.

It is important to the national security interests of the United States that we prevent, through positive American activism for the sake of good, the rise in this Hemisphere of foreign notions of foreign interests, their power, their philosophies and their influence from spreading here. This policy position of the Association is directly contradictory to the foreign policy positions of former President Clinton speaking as to Haitian relief, when he said he welcomed foreign nations there which wanted to become ‘partners’ in the rebuilding of a new Haiti.

In our opinion, that is why our Navy is in Haiti, and should be in Haiti; it is why our Southern Command is in Haiti, and should be in Haiti; and it is certainly why the Association was in Haiti, and should be in Haiti.

We also note that American movie star Sean Penn, who disagrees with almost every national security policy position of the Association we can think of, was also in Haiti at approximately the same time the Association was, with his out-of-his-own-pocket relief mission. He is to be congratulated, and featured, and showcased, for that generosity, and his mission, as he has been by many national news outlets, including CBS-TV and CNN.

The 25th largest newspaper in the U.S., the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, on the other hand, took this occasion to headline a story lauding Penn’s scheduled arraignment on battery charges for simply asserting, in our opinion, his American right of self defense against a “reporter” who was stalking him, and trying to get pictures of him. This reporter believes that tabloid newspapers which deal in trash stories in order to promote the egos of their editors and reporters, and to sell their own papers, are not newspapers at all, but are part, instead, of a larger movement which hates America itself, and whose reporting has the consequence and likelihood of bringing down our Republic, and the values of our America which our founding fathers held dear. "
 
 
It is probable, in this reporter's mind at least, that Testerman's newest hatchet job on the Association appearing May 15, 2010,  was motivated by the last paragraph in Ms. Phillips' story.
 
Contrary to what Testerman asserts, the relief mission the Association supported was actually not just one mission, but a series of missions around the same time, to Haiti. These missions were done, in part, under the aegis of  certain church leaders and missonaries from the United States, including  Pastor Frank Amedia, and American government representatives, and others. The underlying purpose, the real purpose, of Association sponsorship and participation in these missions, from the Association's standpoint, was to show the American flag as part of the relief effort, and the Association believes it did just that. This reporter personally saw two checks the Association wrote for this good work, one for $1,000 and one for $5,000. These dolllars went to underwrite the travel costs and arrangements for all mission members.  Contrary to what Testerman wrote, Thompson did not personally "pay for" or underwite anybody's trip to Haiti; the Association and certain of its respective state chapters did. The Association also provided approximately $5,000 in actual dollar costs to Chapter members from New Mexico, Florida, Washington, D.C., California and Oregon, members this reporter met with. There was no real ability at the time for charitable representatives to buy needed foodstuffs and other necessaries for the peole of Haiti in Haiti with credit cards or checks. In Ms. Phillips' story above, Mr. Berger, who is wearing his Association tee shirt in the photos shown, presents some of the details of the kind of the distributions, along with photos, to the Haitian people which took place. Mr. Ciftci was not reimbursed or underwritten directly by the Association for his participation on the one trip he made.
 
Testerman's story: the Association did all this, spent all this money on aid and grass-roots lobbying, because it "knew" on or around February 19, 2010, that Testerman was going to write a hatchet job on the Association commencing March 20, 2010. The timeline proves him wrong because in fact, not having powers of clairvoyance, neither the Association nor any of its key people, had any such knowledge. In fact, whenever the Association does some spectacular piece of work within its Mission Statement, Testerman immediately, and always, writes that it's all a scam done because of something he has published, or intends to publish. Not only is this reflective of Testerman's God complex, in this reporter's opinion, but  all this is also  designed to chill the good works the Association has carried out, and continues to carry out, and to deny to the potential recipients of assistance of the Association the donations the donors to the Association wish to make. This reporter is dubious Testerman will actually be able to accomplish all that; but is certain he will continue to try.
 
Testerman's story: One of the Association's directors, Bobby Thompson, "recruited" "stand-ins" Michael Ciftci, Josh Berger and Patrick Thacker, to go to Haiti; and to meet with one Congresswoman from North Carolina in Tampa, and a former Assistant State's Attorney from hillsborough County, Florida. All lies: the Association was considering a relief mission or missions to Haiti, quite naturally, from the time of the first Haiti earthquake and a number of other Association members, other than these three, actually attended on these missions, contrary to a key presentation Testerman makes in this story.  Mr. Berger and Mr. Thacker, both of whom did excellent representative work for the Association during their memberships, both of which began prior to the Haiti earthquake, were mentioned to Thompson by Ciftci as potential members who had credible backgrounds for representative work in Florida, the type of people the Association is always looking for, and not the other way around, as Testerman makes it sound. Thompson knew Ciftci at least since 2006, according to Thompson, and it was always Ciftci who asked Thompson how he (Ciftci) could help; not Thompson asking Ciftci for help.  Both Berger and Thacker applied, and both were accepted. Thacker was going back on active-duty, and it is established Association policy as to dues that all dues for voting members are waived for the entire year they are on, or will be on, active-duty; the $50 dues for associate members are likewise waived in any case of unemployment; as usual testerman (a) points none of this out; and (b) constructs the story to argue that since dues were waived this is circumstantial evidence these two were not real members; he could likewise argue the same in every case dues are waived, and probably will, simply because it fits his overall thesis of vilification. According to Thompson, Berger specifically asked Thompson for rank, not the other way around, as Testerman makes it sound,  and was, based on his credentials, granted volunteer status as an Intern in the Association's Public Information Office, a post similiar to in certain responsibilities, but not identical with, Ciftci's within Don Phillips' development company.  At his request, Thacker was granted the same status. According to Thompson, the trip to Haiti Ciftci was making was mentioned to Thompson by Ciftci, not the other way around, as Testerman makes it sound. Given Ciftci's prior relationship with Berger, Thompson thought it natural Berger, an Association member, could attend with Ciftci on that particular mission as an Association representative, and all were agreed that would take place, and did take place.
Berger is wearing his Association tee-shirt in his photos. It's kind of hard to believe Testerman is arguing that Berger was not a member.
 
Here is the Affidavit of the Association volunteer who delivered Ciftci his membership business card and, pictured below that, Ciftci's, Berger's and Thacker's business and identification cards:
 

 
In sum, Berger and Ciftci were two Association members who represented the Association well on one mission to Haiti. All the statements in Ms. Phillips' article were true, and the Association stands behind them, as well as all of its good works. The SPT was no where to be found, on the other hand, with its reportedly hundreds of millions of dollars in gross income, on either this mission to Haiti, or any other mission heretofore.
 
Thacker: more lies. It is obvious Thacker is stating in the Testerman article that he was a member at all pertinent times, certainly accurate statements. It would be hard to believe he wasn't since he seems to be proudly having had his picture taken in public representing the Association at some very important functions, pictures he provided the Association.  One can call his application, and Berger's as well,  a "recruitment" if one wishes, in the sense the Association recruits members and officers all the time, but to do so in a slanted way merely to impugn the act, is wrong to the point of showing an extreme amount of hostility and bias.
 
Moreover, the Association lobbies all the time for policies it believes in, just like the SPT does; they just happen to be diametrically opposed policies. The Association is proud to have its newer, and youngest members, sometimes the most articulate, specially selected to be  involved as part of that, as an exercise which is good for both them, as well as for the Association. As part of that, it is commonplace for people introduced to each other at meetings, who want to build a long-term relationship with each other, to utter the words, 'If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know.' These are friendly and usual words, something Testerman probably knows, yet he leaves his readers with the impression something sinister or illegal is going on.
 
Thompson never contributed Association treasury funds to any political candidate, something Testerman apparently says he never said in the first place. Yet his articles left that impression, and Berger told Testerman that he had resigned from the Association because of that impression left, which is exactly what Testerman wanted to hear, so he could print it. Berger, the same day, told Association Special Counsel Karmika Rubin, that he was concerned out of fear by what Testerman might say about him and that Testerman had told him, 'you have to talk to me; you don't have any choice.' This is not normal newsgathering, at least in this reporter's opinion; what it is, instead, is verbal waterboarding, and what it produces, for the real reporters still out there, is not the truth, but rather simply what the questioner wants to hear.
 
This is why, this reporter believes, the Association really did lose both Berger and Thacker as officers and members, as well as a substantial number of others now nationwide, as members and officers. If Testerman attacks an officer, as this reporter has laid out in this story, than it is natural for Association officers not to want to talk to this so-called Pulitzer Prize nominee. Nevertheless, the Association has never ordered anyone not to talk to Testerman.
 
Here is Berger's "resignation" email to Association Special Counsel Karmika Rubin, verbatim:
 

“Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 21:46:32 -0400
Subject: Re: USNVA request
From: joshberger3@gmail.com
To: karmikar@hotmail.com

Hi Karmika,

 

Thank you so much for your invitation to last Friday's event.  I was so proud and happy for your achievement.

It was an honor meeting members of your family.

 

Per photos - all were taken with USNVA camera.

 

I am sorry for this issue.  I adore you, Blanca and Commander. And appreciate Michael's [Ciftci] role in this relationship/venture; the last thing I want to do is make anyone feel/look bad.

 

I want to continue with USNVA; but am scared for potential outcomes which could appear in the coming days/weeks.

 

Maybe this liberal reporter is the issue.  He broached a lot of points, but w/o backing them up fully.  Which is why my feeling are wavering.  

 

Please call anytime if you would like to speak.

 

Respectfully,
Josh”

 

 

 
And here is Thacker, in May, 2010, asking the Association through special Counsel Rubin, (with mispellings) for  a standard veterans' assistance request, getting a replacement DD 214 form, and Ms. Rubin's reply on behalf of the Association. This is one of thousands of requests the Association receives and fulfills nationwide daily. It does not seem to this reporter that this would be the same person who would have told Testerman that he was a mere "stand-in" for a real member:
 

 
> Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 09:56:49 -0400
> Subject: dd-214
> From: patrickrthacker@gmail.com
> To: karmikar@hotmail.com
>
> Ms. Rubin, i remember you saying you had some experience with helping
> veterans get replacement dd-214 forms. Over the course of the move i
> seem to have misplaced mine. I was wondering if you could give me some
> pointers on how to go about getting a replacement. Thanks and i hope
> that all is well for you."

 

 

 

"From: karmikar@hotmail.com
To: patrickrthacker@gmail.com
Subject: RE: dd-214
Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 11:46:34 -0400

Patrick,
 
It is nice to hear from you.  I sure can be of help.

Go to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/evetrecs/index.html

Select eVetRecs another window will open and complete it completely.  It should take up to 2-3 months.
kvr

 

Karmika V. Rubin, Esq.
Rubin and Associates, P.A.
200 Second Avenue, Suite #360

Saint Petersburg, Florida  33701-4313

karmikar@hotmail.com
   

352-293-3401 (fax)

"A Daughter of God and a Servant of His People"




In sum, Ciftci, Berger and Thacker, were real, albeit new, members of the Association, and not "stand-ins." Testerman's statement to the contrary is a lie. 

 
Testerman also repeats his lie over and over again that he hasn't "talked to" or been able to personally identify any officer of the Association other than Thompson, while in the very same articles mentions the names of the "real" officers he has "talked to!" By this reporter's count, these now number at least nine. Every time he "meets" one of them, though, we can all be rest assured Testerman will make up some argument that they are not "real," including, but not limited to, attempting to intimidate the officer or member spoken to, to leave or resign from the Association.
 
He also repeats over and over again his lie that the Association operates out of mere maildrops. The Association prides itself on operating out of the home offices voluntarily provided its member and officers, without any tax deduction being taken by any of them, something Testerman never mentions. The UPS Stores utilized, moreover, are real street addresses, with keys to the front door provided, Association workers can, and do, access  and work in with real, albeit sparse, business furnishings and equipment and paid staff assistance, 24-7-365. To simply take picture of the box number is meaningless, at least to this reporter.
 
And now he's personally attacking Association member and volunteer Blanca Contreras, a single mom who raised five wonderful children, including a severely mentally challenged paraplegic son; as well as another son, also a member of the Association, who serves proudly as an enlisted member with the Army. Blanca has every reason to be proud of what she's done, and the Association is proud of her.
 
These attacks are why a number of Association members said they felt they were being stalked by Testerman; it is why one said she thought it might have been Testerman following her in her vehicle. It is why most members will not talk to him, and the Association has no way to force them to chage their minds, and has no intention of doing so. Quite the opposite: the Association will maintain, as a matter of our Constitution, that it has every right to protect both the privacy and identities and the freedom of association of all its members from the demands either of Testerman, or of state action interrogatories Testerman induced. A number of Testerman's readers have also written in threatening Association members, as well as others among his targets, with violence, and those same verbal threats have been made to many Association members throughout the country, as well as threats of "legal lynchings" Testerman is promoting.
 
In sum, the Association did good work in Haiti; did good work in its educational efforts among policymakers. It continues to struggle, however, against the nationwide effort Testerman is making, through lies and distortions, misrepresentations of both law and fact, to obtain state action for a legal lynching, as well as personal acts of violence, as well as chilling Association members into leaving the Association.
 
 
 
That is why the Association has stopped printing the names of its members on its website. When those names are released, it has been shown that the members are attacked or threatened by those who believe in what Testerman is doing. The Association respects their privacy and their right of free association; Testerman and his minions do not.
 
Finally, Testerman told his readers, flat out in this cited article,  that the "only" item the New Mexico Chapter of the Association presented to the New Mexico Attorney General in evidence of its Chapter activities, was the Phillips' piece.
 
He neglected to mention to all of you that, instead, the Chapter also presented thousands of dollars of actual receipts for care kits bought for a USAF HBAC unit from New Mexico stationed in Iraq, as well as sample copies of its educational and advocacy newsletters distributed within New Mexico (the latter containing advocacy positions the SPT apparently would prefer the public not hear about).
 
What a liar he is!
 
Stay tuned for more of Part 4:
 
May 25, 2010:
 

 

For more than ten years, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association has been assisting active military personnel and veterans like Lon Henke. The Vietnam veteran suffered a debilitating stroke and needed to get home from Florida to Illinois for rehabilitation right away.

 

But the Veterans Administration and others would not provide funds for his emergency air lift. That's when the Association stepped in with a $10,000 payment to pay for an air ambulance to take him home. The Association has helped countless other veterans like Mr. Henke.

 

But all the charitable good works of the Association were buried in a recent series of articles that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times. Instead, the newspaper slanted it's coverage, focusing on whatever dirt it could try to dig up. They went so far as to claim that pretty much all of the good work the Association did was because of the fear of their lead reporter, Jeff Testerman, who none in the Association had even met until August, 2009. Testerman claimed he could not find any members of the Association's board of directors other than Bobby Thompson.

 

That's because the board of directors have chosen to go to great lengths to protect their privacy, as well as the privacy and rights to free speech and freedom of association of all Association members. The board decided a long time ago that they would release their phone numbers and addresses only when required by law. Over the years, some members of the public have verbally threatened board members and rank and file members alike, while others who disagreed with the Association's policies and philosophies as to subjects of interest to veterans and the public have threatened to destroy the organization.

 

As part of its policy and philosophical policies, the Association has supported a strong national security stance and it has endorsed President Reagan’s position that “government is not the solution; government is the problem” as a cornerstone  philosophy of our American Freedoms, which hold forth the promise, coming from no where else, of the light of liberty for all the world to see, that  lamp which creates real hope in the hearts of billions throughout our planet every day .

 

The Association's support for America's independence and strength have not always been greeted with open arms. In addition,  members of terrorist organizations have personally attacked the Association, its website has been banned by one Communist government; and therefore the board members have done everything possible to protect their privacy, the privacy of all Association members and that of their families.

 

The Association's board believes they have met the requirements for listing their addresses and phone numbers on state and registration papers throughout the country. The newspaper also attacked the Association's financial accountability. In that regard, the Association has never crossed the line of impropriety.

 

Each one of the political contributions described by the newspaper were made by Thompson from his personal funds, not from the coffers of the Association. There is no explicit prohibition against Thompson or even the Association itself from making political contributions if it chose to do so. The latter has never even been tested in a court of law.

 

Thompson has given donations to some political candidates and other public servants around the nation in keeping with the Association's endorsement of a strong national defense and homeland security. He is entitled to make personal political contributions from his private funds as he sees fit.

 

Thompson joined the Navy at the age of 15, using the name of another, so he could get into the military. He served in Vietnam on the ground, and elsewhere,  and on Navy ships. He was discharged honorably. The Times and its reporters flailed around trying to verify Thompson's service and could not find his military records because of how he served. Then their reporter threatened Thompson with lying to the government in the 1960’s because of his desire to serve. The same reporter sat out the Vietnam War (which the Association’s predecessor organization endorsed, and which the Association still endorses today) while in college and one year of graduate school, which he left abruptly at almost exactly the time the last man was drafted into the Army.

 

During the reporting stage of his story, Testerman demanded to see the Association's financial books. But the Association's general counsel, Helen Mac Murray, made it clear that the organization's records, including those of its state chapters, are not kept centrally in one location. And the Association does not have the resources to spend countless hours making copies. The SPT refused to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars this search and marshalling effort would have cost, instead demanding that the Association ‘order’ its volunteers to do the work.

 

The Association has appointed an independent auditor to examine its financial records and its legally required forms, and the organization will make the results public when the audit is done. In the meantime, the Association has asked the Times' non profit arm, the Poynter Institue, to provide all of its financial documents to the organization for review as well.  They, of course, refused to comply.

 

The Association has the right to hire outside agencies to help it raise funds for its charitable purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Riley vs. Federation of the Blind that charitable organizations have the freedom to do that. The agencies that raise funds for the Association have complied with all of the state and federal laws governing their activities. Testerman ignored that in his articles and misrepresented the truth.

 

The Association is committed to continue to support veterans in their time of need. Lon Henke knows that, as do the countless other veterans the Association has helped. And just as Henke served his country in the  Navy in Vietnam with pride, so will the Association continue to do its job, despite the attacks from outsiders who do not believe in its mission.

 

To date, as a result of the Testerman attacks, the spin off attacks of his stand-ins and those who fear what the SPT will do to them if they do not cooperate with the Testerman School of Law, and the physical attacks on members by persons who clearly read or were aware of, his libelous articles, the Association, according to Association sources and based on hard estimates, has lost upwards of 25% of its members  and approximately 50% of its annualized income. This is a shame, in the mind of this reporter at least, because the people really being hurt are the beneficiaries of the charitable work of the organization, like the VA, like the Henke's, like SGT Burchard, like the food bank programs for vets, like the care kits recipients and like all the supporters who enjoy the Association's detailed and thoughtful advocacies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: June 9, 2010:
 
In his latest outrage, Testerman published this date abunch of lies and misconstructions of fact about Thank You notes from actual service member recipients of Association care kits, saying three of them said they never received kits from the Association or thanked the Association. The issues have to deal with Anysoldier.com, an organization which provides the names and addresses of some service members who have requested care kits. Anysoldier does not actually send out or pay for the kits, but "requires" that anybody using their service, use as part of the service member's address: Attn: AnySoldier (Marine, sailor, etc.)
 
The Association's care kits program goes back to 2002, and has included everything from one phone card at a time up to the full blown care kit used primarily today, with a fair market value, including contents, of $450 plus.
 
Anysoldier.com was frequently used as a valued source for recipients by the Association.  Often, the name of the Association was not even included with the kit.
 
But Anysoldier's was.  Recipients may have, understandably, misunderstood that AnySoldier was sending them the kit. And Anysoldier got and printed the e-thank you. If the Association knew it was one of their kits (from the cross-referenced log of recipients kept at the time), the Association believed it could, and should, take credit for the thank you. And it did.
 
Thank you's should not even be necessary, other than in a world according to Testerman, since charity is its own reward.
 
Here is one member of an entire USAF unit in Iraq  thanking the Association for $9,000 worth of care kits they received just in one day this year (332 AEW-ECES-HVAC, APO AE 89315 (NCOIC: TSGT Jeffery Sena, USAF). 12 of his buddies  Sena, Hunter, Woodard, Messmer, Parker, Nugent, John, Lopez, Cuhen, Miller, Dixon and Owens) sent us their own thank you's received in letter format by the Association yesterday:
 
"Thank-you for the backpacks you sent to us here in Iraq.  Everything in it will be put to good use.  i would also like to thank-you for your service.
 
TSgt Thomas Bean
May 31, 2010"
 
 
Testerman pounded three of these  warriors mentioned earlier, with presumably better things to do, to get them to say they never received a kit from the Association. They did.
 
After he was done with them, he then accused the Association of lying because it posted a thank you note to our troops from one girl scout because she referred to her grandfather who was in the Navy in China during World War II "on a SACO" mission. He wanted to know her name and telphone number.
 
In sum, Testerman's newspaper is not writing news; it is conducting a campaign against a highly disliked target. In the process it continues to hide from all its readers highly relevant evidence, for example, how AnySoldier actually works, evidence which is left up to the Association to present on www.navyvets.org.
 
Update: June 11, 2011:
 
Testerman has again this date asked the Association for the names and addresses of the girl scouts. As a predator of the first degree, he is not going to get them.  The Association's website is not his personal Facebook for little girls. He already has three or more affidavits, reports or statements filed against him  for  stalking women, one with the Tampa Police Department, including young women, (all part of his targeting an organization  he and the SPT are opposed to) in Tampa.  He says he is news reporting. He is not news reporting. The same source who reported to Testerman that one of the Association directors served in Vietnam reported to a Newstand representative that Testerman told him in a drinking establishment Testerman frequents in Tampa that he, Testerman, pounded everybody listed on www.navyvets.org, as a donee, with argumentation designed to say, 'Tell me they did not really give you a donation,' or , impliedly,' I will expose you and everything about you in my newspaper.' This is not normal or ethical news gathering. It produces , instead, a story or headline, the editorialist wants. In a court of law, this would be called the extraction of a confession by trickery, deceit or intimidation.
 
Testerman has never reported to his readers, as to all the grantees or donees of the Association he has contacted, how many verified their grants or gifts. What he does, instead, is find one or two here who won't verify the grant or gift after his intimidation, and features those instead. This is one -sideness, his one-sideness, and is clearly not normal news reporting (other than out of tabloids).
 
In recent editorials, run on the front page of the SPT, Testerman & Co. and their "Politi- Fact Truth-o- Meter" have called the "Tea Party" front runner for the Republican nomination for Florida Governor  a criminal fraudster ( SPT Headline: June, 11, 2010, SPT). This is because they wanted to shore up the newspaper's  held out and possible, endorsement of the sitting Attorney General in the gubernatorial  race because he kowtowed to the Times' prospective endorsement of him in bringing a supoena  against the Association. This is interference in politics to the Nth degree, prohibited to any 501 (c)(3) group, such as the group which owns the SPT, the Poynter Institute.
 
 
 

NOTED NONPROFIT LAW EXPERT AGREES TO REVIEW USNVA’S ORGANIZATION AND OPERATIONS.
 
Six weeks ago, the USNVA Board of Directors asked nonprofit law expert, Darryll K. Jones, to perform a thorough review of the organization’s compliance with IRC 501(c)(19) and to make any needed recommendations for improvement.  Jones, who has authored a textbook and numerous articles on Nonprofit Law, and is the co-editor of the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog, has compared the organization and operation of the USNVA to the requirements imposed under IRC 501(c)(19) on tax exempt veterans organizations.  In addition to closely scrutinizing all of the organization’s governing and tax documents, Jones has conducted hours of interviews with key individuals.  “Other than the typical foot faults common to most nonprofit organizations,” said Jones, “I have not found any indication why USNVA does not continue to be entitled to tax exemption under IRC 501(C)(19).  Of course, there is always room for improvement and I expect, based on assurances given to me, that USNVA desires to exceed any and all legal requirements.”  Mr. Jones’ complete bio can be accessed here.  Mr. Jones’ report for the Association can be viewed here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
____________________________________
 
Navy 230 Magazine,
the official celebration of
U.S. seapower,
on the occasion of the Navy's 230th birthday, 2005:

























































































As a prominent sponsor of the Green Armada, the Association's logo was featured (barely visible in the lower right of the first boat's banner, below) in People Magazine, April 30, 2007:

Below is a News Report from TV Channel 10 News, in Tampa, Florida, December 24, 2009, about the Florida Chapter's  gift ceremony to honor one of our US Armed Forces heroes from the Global War on Terror then receiving treatment and therapy at the James A. Haley VA Medical Facility. Further story details follow the video:

In order to play this video, you must have Quicktime installed. If you need to install Quicktime, please click here and choose Run.

Government and the US charitable sector
should complement each other

Pictured above, l-r, are Edward P. Cutolo, M.D.,  James A. Haley Chief of Staff; Dr. White, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Branch Chief; Association members flanking Nicole Cineas, SCI Polytrauma Case Manager;  Sgt. Burchard; Donna Burchard; and Stephen M. Lucas, James A. Haley Director

On December 24, 2009, the Association presented a brand new 2010 Chrysler Town N' Country van ($30,000 retail value) to US Army Sergeant Austin Burchard, a patient at the VA's James A. Haley Hospital in Tampa, Florida.
 
Sergeant Burchard was wounded while serving in Afghanistan. He is currently paralyzed from the waist down, and was still on active duty, promotable status on this Christmas Eve.
 
The James A. Haley Medical Facility in Tampa is recognized as one of the premier rehabilitative facilities for our paraplegic and quadriplegic veterans in the country.
 
As part of this partnership program, the Association provides the van to the veteran, and VA retrofits the van for the veteran's specialized use. VA vets the recipients and, by Association policy, all vans provided are brand new.
 
The Association does not discriminate, by US Armed Forces branch, among the recipients in any Association assistance program.

Update, April 22, 2010: When VA still had not allocated the funds for Sgt Burchard's van's retrofit by tax day, the Florida Chapter stepped in once again, and paid for the retrofit itself. That's why we call it outreach.


 
 
 
 
From the Key West, Florida  Citizen, February 15, 2010:
 

“REMEMBERING THE MAINE”

 

“Volunteers and members from the U.S. Navy Veterans Association place a wreath at the USS Maine Memorial at the Key West Cemetery Sunday morning. The ninth annual event marks the anniversary of the ship’s explosion in Havana harbor on Feb. 15, 1898, which ultimately led to war against Spain.”

 

Article from The Key West Citizen, Monday, February 15, 2010

 

The Association's Florida Chapter also pays for, as part of its program activities, annual maintenance of this monument. To see the current version of our plaque on the monument, and other Association news and history about this memorial, please go to the Florida Chapter section of the State Chapters page. If you know of a forgotten memorial to our sailors of our Navy in your vicinity which needs tending or upkeep, please feel free to contact the Association at usn@navyvets.org.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Seen About Town: " St. Petersburg, Florida February 19, 2010,
at the Invitation Only Reception for incoming
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster:
 
 
Association Special Counsel Karmika V. Rubin meets with Judge Thomas K. Minkoff of Gulfport, Florida, Judge of Florida's Sixth Judicial Circuit

Ms. Rubin was a former administrator in the Office of Former Association General Counsel Darryl Rouson, now a member of the Florida House of Representatives.
She previously was a director of a Florida non-profit  corporation, and holds B.A. degrees in both Criminology and Theology; as well as a J.D. and an LL.M. degree from  Gulfport's prestigious Stetson School of Law.  She is a respected authority on the law of the non-profit sector, the laws of charitable giving and the laws of fundraising. Prior to being admitted to the Florida Bar, she also worked as a volunteer for the Association.
As Special Counsel for the Association, she performs legal services for the organization, represents the Association in its interactions with governmental, non-profit and business leaders, and still finds time to volunteer her services for our veterans' program activities. She is admired throughout both the non-profit and the ethnic communities of South Central Florida for her lawyerly wit, charm, commitment and ability to get things done. She is also an appointed Mediator with the Better Business Bureau.
 
Below, she is pictured with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the News: The Association in Haiti
March 10, 2010
By: Heather Phillips,  Americas Newsdesk
National Security Affairs Newstand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On February 19, 2010, the Association sponsored and accompanied a relief organization led by the Mayor of Coral Gables, Florida, Don Slesnick, to Haiti to help rebuild an orphanage which was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake which impacted the region in January, 2010.  This relief mission was comprised, in part, of Association members, volunteers and representatives, graduate students and professionals hailing from many parts of the U.S., including Florida, Washington DC, Oregon, California and New Mexico, as well as a strong medical contingent from the University of Miami (Florida) Health Center.

On one occasion on  February 20th, a mini-van was packed so full with donations that relief mission volunteers had to sit with boxes in their laps, until volunteers  could hand out everything. On that date, they drove around for 4 hours handing out food, water, clothes, and eventually money to mothers with kids in tent camps. Also, everyone bought food items in the market and intentionally overpaid; $10 for a coke, $30 for a 6 pack of soft drinks, $20 for a bag of fruit. Then they gave everything they bought to Haitians in need on the street as they were looking for the next thing to buy. The children were especially pleased with the  presence of the US Navy Veterans Association, as depicted by the expressions on their faces.

Later that same day, the Association was part of a team which hired Haitian guides to drive them throughout Port au Prince, Haiti, to view the devastation inflicted on the surrounding areas first-hand.  The National Palace, established in the late 1700’s, and where the Haitian President resided, was in ruins.  Other popular monuments throughout the city were also damaged.  Association representatives were welcomed by, and had the pleasure of meeting, and talking with, the Mayor of Delmas province, Jean Gael, at his villa for 2 hours.  The Mayor expressed extreme concern for his people, and described them as hard-working seeking opportunity.  Job creation was the underlying theme expressed by the Mayor.  Further, Mayor Gael stated that job creation was his number one priority.  The Mayor expressed the desire for the Haitian people to understand new industry concepts, so that the people can become proficient enough to export their talents to new markets.   The Association strongly supports national legislation and policy here easing the way for the importation of more Haitian products into the United States.

On Sunday February 21st, the Association took part in rebuilding a concrete wall surrounding the New Life Children’s Orphanage.  The breaches in the wall resulted in mounds of concrete shards and harmful rebar protruding recklessly which could potentially harm the children of the orphanage.  Several volunteers collected and transported the rubble to dump trucks for disposal.  This event gave the volunteers the opportunity to bond with the children of the orphanage, who were grateful to have new companions to spend time with.  Also, the New Life Children’s Orphanage had many child victims of the earthquake within the compound, some of whom held devastating injuries which required many surgeries to repair.  The team members were able to comfort these victims, by cleaning up wounds and spending substantial time entertaining them.

In the afternoon of February 21st, the Association was part of a leadership team which picked up designated supplies of food and water with a truck at Operation Blessings Warehouse near the U.S. Embassy.  Operation Blessing agreed to provide the supplies based on a long-term relationship with Pastor Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries.  The truck traveled through the disaster area Port au Prince south to Carrefour (ground zero) and to Campe de David Compound operated by the Church of Jesus Christ.  The compound is located at 30 Mahotiere 75 Thorland, Carrefour, Haiti.  Approximately 15,000 tons of baby food, rice, peanut butter, MRE’s, and water was delivered, unloaded, and distributed in the camp. 

Relief mission members were scheduled to depart Port au Prince International Airport February 22ndbut due to electronic malfunctions associated with runway lighting, all flights were canceled for the day.  The U.S. Air Force controlled the airport, and provided team members with food, water, and cots to sleep on.  They were especially cordial and congratulatory to Association members.  That night, while volunteers slept on the runway tarmac, a 4.7 earthquake struck at 1:26am EST, which created temporary panic and confusion for all involved.  The following day, mission members  departed for Miami International Airport. 

As part of the mission,  Association representatives had the privilege of meeting, and speaking with, the Prime Minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive. The Association actively carries out advocacy on behalf of its Mission Statement both domestically and internationally.

It is important to the national security interests of the United States that we prevent, through positive American activism for the sake of good, the rise in this Hemisphere of foreign notions of foreign interests, their power, their philosophies and their influence from spreading here. This policy position of the Association is directly contradictory to the foreign policy positions of former President Clinton speaking as to Haitian relief, when he said he welcomed foreign nations there which wanted to become ‘partners’ in the rebuilding of a new Haiti.

In our opinion, that is why our Navy is in Haiti, and should be in Haiti; it is why our Southern Command is in Haiti, and should be in Haiti; and it is certainly why the Association was in Haiti, and should be in Haiti.

We also note that American movie star Sean Penn, who disagrees with almost every national security policy position of the Association we can think of, was also in Haiti at approximately the same time the Association was, with his out-of-his-own-pocket relief mission. He is to be congratulated, and featured, and showcased, for that generosity, and his mission, as he has been by many national news outlets, including CBS-TV and CNN.

The 25th largest newspaper in the U.S., the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, on the other hand, took this occasion to headline a story lauding Penn’s scheduled arraignment on battery charges for simply asserting, in our opinion, his American right of self defense against a “reporter” who was stalking him, and trying to get pictures of him. This reporter believes that tabloid newspapers which deal in trash stories in order to promote the egos of their editors and reporters, and to sell their own papers, are not newspapers at all, but are part, instead, of a larger movement which hates America itself, and whose reporting has the consequence and likelihood of bringing down our Republic, and the values of our America which our founding fathers held dear.

 
 
 
 
 
 
In the News:
 
An Association intern  from our Assistant Directorship for Governmental Liaison meets with Florida National Guard Adjutant General Douglas Bernette and Florida Governor Charlie Crist at a veterans' event in Tampa, Florida on March 10, 2010.

 

 

  

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