House Appropriations Committee Approves Legislation To Protect Consumers From Deceptive And Misleading Charities

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News Release: Commissioner Adam Putnam's Office
Updated: March 13, 2014, 5pm

Tallahassee, FL – The House Appropriations Committee today unanimously passed a bill proposed by Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam to protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive charity activities.

“We have seen cases where only pennies of Floridians’ hard-earned contributions went toward the causes they were told their donations would support,” said Commissioner Putnam. “I would like to thank Rep. Jim Boyd and this committee for their support in cracking down on organizations that mislead consumers in the name of veterans, terminally-ill children and other important causes.”

The legislation would:

  • Ban organizations that have violated certain laws in other states from soliciting funds in Florida.

  • Prohibit felons from soliciting funds for charity.

  • Require professional solicitors who operate like telemarketers to provide fingerprints for background checks, submit scripts used to conduct solicitations and report the percentage of contributions collected that will be provided to the charity.

  • Require charities that receive more than $500,000 in a year to submit an independently reviewed financial statement, and those that receive more than $1 million in a year to provide an independently audited financial statement. If a charity receives more than $1 million, but spends less than 25 percent on its cause, it will be required to provide even more information, including board members and family relationships between board members and staff.

  • Increase fines for fraudulent or deceptive acts in violation of the law.

The legislation, filed as HB 629 and by Sen. Jeff Brandes as SB 638, would also create an interactive online database where consumers can access the information charities will be required to report. Information made available online would include: leadership, location, contact information, financial reports and actions taken by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for violations. With this information, Floridians can make informed decisions when choosing which organizations deserve their support

To find more information on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit

By: James Buechele

February 10, 2014, 5:30pm

A Senate Committee met today looking to tighten oversight over charitable organizations in the state of Florida.

This all stems from last year's scandal involved "Allied Veterans of the World" and their associated "Internet Cafes".

The Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism just voted on Senate Bill 638 presented by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg) that would add more authority and more oversight over the charities throughout the state of Florida.

That bill passed by a wide margin: 8-3.

It all comes from last year’s “Allied Veterans of the World” running the “Internet Cafes” throughout the state. These cafes were running as a charity organization, but were actually an illegal gambling operation.

Many were arrested, but no exact charges are known yet. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll did resign because of this operation.

This bill has a long way to go before it becomes law.

This bill would provide more oversight and more audits on charity organizations to weed out “bad actors” as the Committee said today.

The bill has passed the first step to become law by passing the Senate Committee today.

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