9 Investigates new push for Florida charity reform



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida’s agricultural commissioner is pushing for more oversight for charities to prevent cases of fraud throughout the state.

Florida has little to no regulation when it comes to what is considered a charity. To find out where the money goes, one would have to dig into tax forms and other filings.

WFTV’s investigative reporter Chris Heath did just that and discovered many groups are giving money, just not a lot of it.

In Volusia County, “The Florida Veterans Relief Fund” came under fire after two of its telemarketers were charged with pretending to be service members of law enforcement.

More recently, former employees of Allied Veterans of the World said that most of the money wasn’t going where promised.

"We were told to tell them that either 95 percent or 97 percent of all of the cash coming in was being donated to the Allied Veterans organization,” said Evan Wallace who used to work for the organization.

Amid growing pressure Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam called for a re-write of Florida law for all charities.

He’s calling on the state to create an interactive database, provide audited financial reports and disclose employee salaries and fundraising expenses.

He also wants to see greater oversight “pop-up” charities that emerge after a natural disaster.

One of the major things proposed by the state is to regulate so-called “professional solicitors” who make their entire living soliciting donations of any number of charities.

Some of them operate under contracts that pay them up to 90 percent of what they raise, leaving the rest for the charity.