The Ohio attorney general has issued a nationwide search warrant for the head of an alleged scam charity who donated tens of thousands to conservative candidates like Ken Cuccinelli and Michele Bachmann.
The man, known as Bobby Thompson, allegedly set up a scam charity called U.S. Navy Veterans Association, raising millions of dollars. He then allegedly pocketed 99% of the money for “administrative costs,” and donated huge amounts to both the Virginia attorney general and the Minnesota congresswoman.
The Ohio AG, Richard Cordray, said Thompson “bilked Ohioans out of at least $1.9 million, and we estimate that nationally he collected at least $20 million.”
But Thompson’s not his real name. According to Cordray, the alleged scammer stole the Social Security number and identity of the real Bobby Thompson.
Authorities apparently don’t know Thompson’s real name.
(You can see the arrest warrant and other docs here.)
“Thompson” operated from various UPS drop boxes in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and elsewhere. The IRS raided a Tampa, Fla., residence associated with the charity earlier this week.
According to the Roanoke Times, the investigation into the scam ramped up after May 10, when someone claiming to be the head of the charity’s Virginia chapter wrote a letter to regulators saying the association was ready to make a “fresh start.”
The USNVA’s dealings in Virginia were especially sketchy. There, “Thompson” lobbied for a new bill to allow veterans’ charities to solicit donations without registering. It passed. But they never applied for the exemption that would let them operate there — until May 10, when a man calling himself Allan Rossellini wrote to regulators.
There’s no evidence that either Cuccinelli or Bachmann knew about the alleged scamminess of Thompson or his charity.
*This sentence has been edited.
Late update: Cuccinelli last week announced that he would be donating the $55,000 from Thompson to veterans charities. He had resisted pressure to give away the money for months.