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Secretary of State Mark Hammond has entered into an agreement with professional fundraiser Midwest Publishing-DN, to settle allegations that the company violated the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act while raising money for the South Carolina Troopers Association (SCTA). As part of the agreement, Midwest Publishing-DN—which conducts business under the name “MPI”—agreed to pay an administrative fine of $30,000.
The Secretary of State alleged that in 2011, while calling to raise money for the SCTA, several MPI employees failed to disclose that they were “professional” or “paid” solicitors, and that some employees stated they were calling from the SCTA rather than MPI. Under the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, professional solicitors are required to state that they are “professional” or “paid” solicitors, and disclose the name of the fundraising company for whom they work. It is a violation for any person to engage in misrepresentation while soliciting contributions for a charitable organization.
The agreement also alleges that MPI failed to register all solicitors it had hired to call into South Carolina to solicit contributions, as well as disclose that MPI previously had been the subject of a legal action in the state of Iowa.
Although MPI did not admit any wrongdoing, MPI agreed to pay a fine of $30,000 and to comply with the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act when conducting future solicitations in the state.
According to financial reports filed with the Secretary of State, the SCTA has paid MPI over $950,000 for fundraising services from July 2010 to June 2012. In addition to the SCTA, MPI has contracts to solicit in South Carolina with the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, the Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Committee for Missing Children. All of these organizations previously have been named to the Secretary of State’s annual Scrooge list, which denotes charitable organizations that spend 40 percent or less of their contributions on charitable programs.
“The duty of the Secretary of State’s Office is to protect the charitable donors of South Carolina,” said Secretary of State Mark Hammond. “Information provided by the charities or solicitors must be accurate under the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act. If they violate the Act, they will be held accountable.”
Anyone with questions or concerns regarding a solicitation for a charitable donation that they have received may contact the Secretary of State’s Office at (803) 734-2170.