Move America Forward misleads donors?

| August 6, 2014

I really don’t know what to think of this story. We know a lot of people who work for Move America Forward and we’ve had dealings with them over the past 5 or 6 years. But this is why I try to politely turn down your solicitations here. You just never know. According to ProPublica in Stars & Stripes the organization has misused the funds that they raised to support the troops. Actually, I don’t recognize any of the names in the article, which makes e feel a little better about our dealing with MAF.

An examination of its fundraising appeals, tax records and other documents shows that Move America Forward has repeatedly misled donors and inflated its charitable accomplishments, while funneling millions of dollars in revenue to the men behind the group and their political consulting firms.

In several instances, the charity has taken images and stories from other groups and from veterans themselves without permission to use in fundraising appeals.

Last year, Move America Forward even solicited funds by claiming a partnership with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the largest hospital for wounded servicemembers in the country. No such partnership existed, Defense Department officials say.


The driving force behind Move America Forward is Sal Russo, 67, the longtime political consultant who is listed on the 10-year-old charity’s tax returns as chief strategist.

Russo is better known for helping to form the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, also known as the Tea Party Express, one of the largest Tea Party groups in the country. Consultants from his Sacramento-based firm, Russo, Marsh and Associates, also set up two other PACs, the Move America Forward Freedom PAC and the Conservative Campaign Committee, to aid conservative causes and candidates.


Russo didn’t respond to questions from ProPublica. Danny Gonzalez, a spokesman for Move America Forward, did not answer questions either, instead providing a four-paragraph defense of the charity. “We are proud of the fact that we always appropriate our donor’s (sic) funds ethically and in the spirit of our mission to support the troops,” he said, adding that Move America Forward was currently preparing 2,000 boxes of care packages for shipping.

The article admits that MAF does indeed send packages to the troops.

But an examination of Move America Forward’s tax returns shows that it is deeply intertwined with Russo’s political enterprises and businesses, paying millions of dollars to him and his consulting firm.

According to its five most recent tax returns, Move America Forward paid out more than $2.3 million to Russo or Russo, Marsh and Associates for services including “program management and advertising.” That’s about 30 percent of the charity’s overall expenditures over that time.

They also complain that MAF has hijacked photos for their website from other charities and stock photos. MAF has always been pro-troop. They partnered a lot with Gathering of Eagles and you can find me at their rallies if you search hard enough on the blog. I remember that Jon Soltz didn’t like them very much when Melanie Morgan was running things. I know I used to have links to Melanie Morgan and to Move America Forward, but for some reason I don’t anymore so maybe I sensed something a long time ago that I’ve forgotten. *shrug*

So I don’t what to think about the whole thing.

Category: Support the troops

Comments (24)

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  1. LIRight says:

    Who in the hell can anyone trust anymore?

    I recently read some pretty negative things about Wounded Warrior Project and the salaries paid to their top people: $750K to the top three guys! I wonder how much money is getting to the Vets highlighted in the recent very emotional video campaign?

    • FatCircles0311 says:

      To be honest I’m surprised they can even pay the bills for their ridiculous as fuck 24/7 TV advertisements.

    • James in Gulf Breeze says:

      Wounded Warriors anti gun stance and anti church stance leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth…

  2. OIF '06-'07-'08 says:

    Any more, I see damn near all so called charities as nothing but a legal scam regardless of whom they are supposed to represent.

    The Salvation Army, St. Jude Hospital, and The Ronald McDonald House are the only charities I give to.

    • USMCE8Ret says:

      I heard Fisher House was legit. (Maybe I’m wrong…)

      • USMCE8Ret says:

        (Strike that…)

        • RunPatRun says:

          Fisher House transparent and four stars on Charity Navigator. The receive a score of 69.62 out of 70. You won’t see any ads and would be hard pressed to find a better charity to give to…they also paid out death benefits when the gov’t shutdown.

          The Salvation Army refuses to submit financial information to Charity Navigator. Ronald McDonald House and St Jude both devote more funds to non-program expense than Fisher House.

          • OldSoldier54 says:

            I guess I won’t be supporting the Salvation Army anymore.

            • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

              I’ve seen the Salvation Army at work in disaster relief, they do the job right. That and The Commanding General of The Salvation Army draws a whopping $30,000/yr salary while the heads of other “charities” like Goodwill treat their top mutts to six digit salaries, I still donate to the SA without a second thought!

  3. Dave Hardin says:

    These organization turn my stomach. They start off with great intentions.

    $408,889 David A. Coker Fisher House
    $311,538 Steven Nardizzi Wounded Warrior

    You can look up most of them here.

    Wounded Warrior also pays an additional $2,000,000 to the next 10 people. We don’t have last years number yet, I doubt the went down.

    That’s why I keep telling everyone to stop giving to these organizations….Until they fix the problem.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      Charity Navigator is a great resource, you beat me to it with your link.

      It’s an essential stop prior to donating to ANY charity whether affiliated with military interests or fighting pediatric cancers.

      DAV and Special Operations Warrior Foundation are ranked in the 60s (out of a best score of 70) with 4 out of 4 stars for their work….those can be found at Charity Navigator as well.

      Wounded Warrior Project is 2 out of 4 stars for their financial efforts, but 4 out 4 for transparency and over all rates a 54 (out of 70) they spend 58% of their funds on their service projects with the balance going to payroll and cost of fund raising. Their expenses were 95 million 55 million for services, 5 million in salaries, and 35 million for fund raising against a revenue of 143 million taken in. Their net assets are listed at over 90 million dollars. When viewed in that capacity 5 million in payroll against 143 million in gross revenue the cost of administration is 3% of their intake or 5% of their expenditures. That’s not outrageous. It’s clear they could do more, but they do bring in a lot of money and spend a lot of it as well.

      In contrast DAV spent 93% of their expenses for programs, but their gross revenue was about 6.5 million. Special Operations Warrior Foundation has 42 million in assets, 13 million in revenue and spends 84% of expenses on programs.

      WWP is not as efficient but in sheer numbers it has a great deal of ability to create positive outcomes with 55 million dollars.

      I’m not defending their actions, I’m just stating the obvious that they are extremely capable of raising a lot of money because they are high profile and the kind of money they raise requires talented people who get paid a lot of money to administer that fortune.

    • Bangle99 says:

      Yeah, WW started off with such great promise. I know some people they’ve helped, but, and it’s a BIG but, the people at the top are now too comfortable and are taking the monies from the vets they were intended to serve.

    • RunPatRun says:

      With Fisher House, 95% of funds raised goes to their mission and they have four stars on Charity Navigator.

      No comparison to MAF with zero stars.

      The VFW Foundation is 78% and WWP a dismal 58%

      • LIRight says:

        Back in 2007 one of my sons was badly hurt, my wife and daughter stayed at the Fisher House at Ft. Bragg for almost three months….I stayed periodically when I could.

        The SF community, the personnel at Womack Medical Center were all extraordinary, but the people and services at the Fisher House were beyond extraordinary. I just can’t begin to tell you all how nice they were…..a five star hotel has nothing on the Fisher House at Bragg!!!

  4. Steadfast&Loyal says:

    I’ve always been suspicious of large charity organizations. Especially when someone works full time. eventually pay checks start to play a part in it.

    Charity starts at home. When we were in the field we did things side by side. Why shouldn’t we be doing that still?

    My ROTC reached out to some of us still around locally to help take care of a couple homes of NG alumni while they are deployed. I’m headed over tonight after work.

    either roll up your sleeves or wring your hands. You can’t do both.

    • Dave Hardin says:

      That is a great quote, ‘Either roll up your sleeves or wring your hands, you can’t do both’. I am going to steal that. Thanks.

    • ThommyMac says:

      Amen. It’s been a while since I posted, but I read all the time. I am the part-time IT guy at a transitional home for vets, with a day program. It was started by a local vet with some help from the local Jewish War Vets. We measure our success one vet at a time. I make here about a 1/4 of what I make on my other job but am only sharing that for demonstrative purposes. A labour of love should be just that. As many of the old timers here know, as well as the admins, I was a homeless junkie 11 years ago come December, G-d willing.

      The previous director was an officer with the 4th ID and the 101st in Iraq. A medically discharged cancer survivor who I met via a mutual friend, he was in need of some free IT advice. I was a peacetime infantryman in the 101st and we hit it off. Together we won a competitive grant from the big search engine folks whose name starts with “G” via their Pittsburgh campus> This was mainly to wire the place with cat5. The bids for the entire campus was around $30K since they were separate houses, etc. This was just for the wiring! I told them I could do it for $2K and 13 windows 7 boxes they were throwing out. The $2K was to get some switches that could handle the traffic. The reason the big G handles wee little places like ours? Allegedly several huge donations of thousands of machines to a very large well established “charity” never made it out of their building. Well the machines did, but one at a time in managers’ cars. Since then, the aforementioned big G deals with the little guy through their campuses and employees who administrate it voluntarily on their free time.

      So for 1/15th the cost, a bakers dozen of townhouses with 48 vets trying to get it together can surf, get used to email, and apply for jobs online. Since donations also pay for our connection, I block inappropriate stuff and keep an eye on the traffic. None of this is for self-aggrandizing BS (heck, if the admins felt it was, they would just delete it 🙂 )

      I just want to emphasize that the small local churches, synagogues, and other local folks is where you can watch and see what your hard earned contribution does. A friend had asked me about VSOs getting scrutinized as of late. I say bring it on. I can show where every dime I get goes. And let’s get an outside audit of the VA while we are at it. The bigger the organization, the more places to hide. Anyhow, thanks for reading this. DISCLAIMER: Any of my ramblings do NOT represent where I work, any organization I belong to, or even any normal person.

      • OldSoldier54 says:

        Amen, Brother! I too, say bring it on!

        Cockroaches can’t hide in bright light.

      • LIRight says:


        Continue on the mend Thommy – you sound like you have both oars in the water and care about a lot of good things.

        I wish you the best.

        • ThommyMac says:

          As always, thanks for the encouragement. I do have to say that I truly expect no parade for finally behaving like an adult again. I share me info to encourage folks who want to get clean and to let the LEOs around here know some of us do get off the spike. Rare, but every person is a miracle in their own way. Have a great day, friends!

  5. jonp says:

    I first encountered them at GOE rallies and when I owned/ran GOE’s website. Their heart was in the right place at first but you have to watch every group out there that is “for the troops” and know where your money is going.

  6. Powerpoint Ranger says:

    MAF wrote a response to the ProPublica piece via Hot Air and Ed Morrisey. It seems only fair to get their side of the story, given how far one side has managed to spread in a day or so.