Friday, October 20

When donors become toxic

Making a donation is a voluntary action. Should the charity's discretion in accepting a financial donation also be voluntary? In fact, it is not rare at all for some nonprofit fundraisers to return checks to the donor.

This happens a lot in politics where a candidate may not want to appear linked to a "certain type" of donors. For example, in 2004 some politicians gave back money from a donor who was linked to Saddam Hussein bribes in the Oil-for-Food program.

In 2003, the Salvation Army made news when they declined a $100,000 donation from a lottery winner because a local official didn't want money linked with gambling.

But I have to admit, I was shocked to hear Gubernatorial hopeful Jim Bryson's campaign will return a $1,000 check from the publicly feuding Sara Evans and husband Craig Schelske, should it arrive, a campaign official said Tuesday to The Tennessean:

Before launching into a public and messy divorce, the couple pledged to support the Republican Bryson and help serve as hosts for a NASCAR-themed fundraiser for him Thursday.

Their names appeared by mistake on an e-mail invitation to the event, Bryson spokesman Lance Frizzell said. The paper invitations were mailed before the divorce filing — Evans claims Schelske slept with their nanny, watched pornography in front of the couple's small children and later drained a joint bank account — became public.

"When the news broke, we made the phone call to the person who put them on the host committee," Frizzell said. "We said, 'We understand you probably won't want to be part of this event as a couple.' "

I think it's a toss-up between who has a better chance of having their donations accepted by Republican candidates: two celebrities going through a messy divorce or disgraced former Congressmem accused of inappropriate IMs ith young teen boys.

Maybe candidate Jim Bryson doesn't want this check for a $1,000 from a couple getting divorced, but the Republic Party doesn't seem to have a problem accepting large sums of money donated from Former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) before he resigned.

Does returning a donation check say more about the original donor or the organization that choose to return it?

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