The President and Founder of the nonprofit group "Help Hospitalized Veterans" was forced to testify before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform late last week.
The focus of Thursday's session was Roger Chapin, president of Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) of Winchester, Calif., and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation in Ossining, N.Y. Chapin had declined an invitation to appear voluntarily at a December hearing, forcing the committee to subpoena him.
At a raucous, three-hour hearing [Thursday], House members questioned California entrepreneur Roger Chapin about his management of two charities. One charity, Help Hospitalized Veterans, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that were to help wounded soldiers on personal expenses for Chapin, executive director Mike Lynch and [conservative activist] Richard A. Viguerie, to whom the charity has awarded millions of dollars in fundraising-consulting contracts, the hearing found.
The expenses included at least $340,000 in meals, hotels and entertainment; a $135,000 loan to Lynch for a divorce settlement with his former wife; a $17,000 country club membership; three airplane tickets to Hawaii; and a $1 million loan to Viguerie for a start-up initiative at his firm, several members of the committee said.
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) asked Chapin what would happen if his charities told donors how their donations were spent.
"If we disclose, which I'm more than happy to do, we'd all be out of business," Chapin said.
"Nobody would donate. It would dry up."
Chapin said few people know how expensive fundraising can be.
"If I could do better, I would," Chapin said. "I've tried television, I've tried radio, I've tried foundations, I've tried corporations and the only thing that works is direct mail."