WASHINGTON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — There's more trouble for Sean Hannity and his Freedom Concert tour as the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against the tour and its producers.
CREW’s FTC complaint alleges Hannity and Freedom Concerts have engaged in illegal and deceptive marketing practices by suggesting that all money generated by ticket sales for the Freedom Concerts he sponsors each summer goes to scholarships for children of killed and wounded service members. However, according to CREW's allegations, only an unknown portion of the proceeds from the event makes its way to the charity.
According to the complaints, the concerts are produced by Premier Marketing, a company connected to Premier Speakers, which reps both Sean Hannity and Col. Oliver North, who is also on the tour. CREW alleges that Premier Marketing donates an unknown portion of the proceeds from the events to the Freedom Alliance
Hannity has reportedly promoted the concerts on his show, making statements such as, “Every penny, 100 percent of the donations are applied to the Freedom Alliance scholarship fund.” Similarly, promoting the concert on Hannity’s program, Lt. Col. North has said, “There’s no overhead. There’s no expenses taken out. Every penny that’s donated or that’s raised through things like the Freedom Concerts” goes to the scholarship fund.” In addition, Hannity has pledged that all the proceeds of his new book, “Conservative Victory,” will go to Freedom Alliance.
CREW’s IRS complaint against Freedom Alliance asks the IRS to consider revoking its charitable tax status because the organization has engaged in prohibited political activities. When Freedom Alliance first formed in 1999, the IRS conditioned its charitable tax status on the organization removing politically partisan materials from its website and warned it not to intervene in political campaigns. Despite those warnings, Freedom Alliance’s website includes links to Lt. Col. North’s columns, which are largely political, allegedly rents its mailing list to a communications firm that works for organizations that “seek to reach Republicans and conservatives across the United States,” and hosts an annual “Freedom Cruise” with Republican politicians such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
Hannity and the tour had responded to similar allegations from political blogger Debbie Schlussel, who alleged that the tour was little more than a scam. Hannity and the Freedom Alliance posted a rebuttal to Schlussel's claims that listed breakdowns of Freedom Alliances' expenses but does not appear to address the newest round of charges leveled against them by CREW.
"Freedom Alliance was attacked with baseless complaints. There is absolutely no merit to the scurrilous charges launched against Freedom Alliance from two of the most left-wing organizations in the country." said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon in a statement.
"The smear-mongers who have launched this politically motivated witch hunt against Freedom Alliance will be proven wrong as we aggressively defend ourselves in the days and weeks ahead." Kilgannon added. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers