Illinois tornado recovery site under fire from state officials

Restoring Washington Illinois image from Heroes Memorial Foundation

Restoring Washington Illinois image from Heroes Memorial Foundation

The people behind the Washington, Illinois Tornado Recovery Facebook page are under taking some heat from the Illinois attorney general.

Lisa Madigan’s office issued a statement Friday, November 22, 2013 that said she is investigating “improper fundraising tied to relief efforts underway in Washington, Illinois and other downstate Illinois communities” struck by tornadoes on Sunday, November 17.

The statement said the Charitable Trust Bureau in Madigan’s officer received a complaint about Heroes Memorial Foundation, which is the group behind a Facebook page that has served as a clearinghouse of sorts for information for victims and volunteers following the EF-4 tornado that devastated Washington, Illinois.

Madigan calls Heroes Memorial Foundation “an unregistered, out-of-state entity raising funds for victims of the weekend storms.”  Organizations raising money or donations in Illinois are required to register with the attorney general’s office.

In a post on the Facebook page dedicated to the Washington recovery efforts, the COO of Heroes Memorial Foundation, Bill Benson, calls Madigan’s statement “inflammatory” and complains about the headline of her press release about Heroes Memorial Foundation, which reads, “ Madigan Warns of Suspected Tornado Relief Scam.”

Benson also says the foundation’s president consulted an attorney, who discovered a packet containing the forms they needed to complete was mailed to Heroes Memorial Foundation on November 20.  Benson said the organization had not yet received the packet as of Monday morning, November 25, but that they will submit the required forms and pay the $215 registration fee immediately when they receive the packet.

Benson says a rep from Madigan’s office says once Heroes Memorial Foundation is in full compliance, Madigan’s previous statements won’t be retracted.

“Unfortunately, because the Press Release carried the full authority and power of the Attorney General’s office, the defamatory statement has done incalculable harm to the goodwill and image of Heroes Memorial Foundation, Inc. Up to this point we had a spotless reputation and have enjoyed the support of thousands of members of the law enforcement, firefighting and military veterans which we serve,” Benson said.
“It should be noted also that our fundraising activities resulting from the tornado have been solely and strictly to aid our heroes in the first responder community who suffered losses.  Of course this has severely impaired our ability to aid these victims,” Benson continued.
“We apologize that this has been a distraction and hope wholeheartedly that this concludes the matter,” Benson said.
Washington resident David Baker previously said he is one of the administrators of the Washington Illinois Tornado Recovery page on Facebook.  He said there are 13 administrators in all, including at least two from Washington, who work together to ensure information posted there is accurate and timely.

Related:

The people behind the Washington, Illinois Tornado Recovery Facebook page are under taking some heat from the Illinois attorney general.

Lisa Madigan’s office issued a statement Friday, November 22, 2013 that said she is investigating “improper fundraising tied to relief efforts underway in Washington, Illinois and other downstate Illinois communities” struck by tornadoes on Sunday, November 17.

The statement said the Charitable Trust Bureau in Madigan’s officer received a complaint about Heroes Memorial Foundation, which is the group behind a Facebook page that has served as a clearinghouse of sorts for information for victims and volunteers following the EF-4 tornado that devastated Washington, Illinois.

Madigan calls Heroes Memorial Foundation “an unregistered, out-of-state entity raising funds for victims of the weekend storms.”  Organizations raising money or donations in Illinois are required to register with the attorney general’s office.

In a post on the Facebook page dedicated to the Washington recovery efforts, the COO of Heroes Memorial Foundation, Bill Benson, calls Madigan’s statement “inflammatory” and complains about the headline of her press release about Heroes Memorial Foundation, which reads, “ Madigan Warns of Suspected Tornado Relief Scam.”

Benson also says the foundation’s president consulted an attorney, who discovered a packet containing the forms they needed to complete was mailed to Heroes Memorial Foundation on November 20.  Benson said the organization had not yet received the packet as of Monday morning, November 25, but that they will submit the required forms and pay the $215 registration fee immediately when they receive the packet.

Benson says a rep from Madigan’s office says once Heroes Memorial Foundation is in full compliance, Madigan’s previous statements won’t be retracted.

“Unfortunately, because the Press Release carried the full authority and power of the Attorney General’s office, the defamatory statement has done incalculable harm to the goodwill and image of Heroes Memorial Foundation, Inc. Up to this point we had a spotless reputation and have enjoyed the support of thousands of members of the law enforcement, firefighting and military veterans which we serve,” Benson said.
“It should be noted also that our fundraising activities resulting from the tornado have been solely and strictly to aid our heroes in the first responder community who suffered losses.  Of course this has severely impaired our ability to aid these victims,” Benson continued.
“We apologize that this has been a distraction and hope wholeheartedly that this concludes the matter,” Benson said.
Washington resident David Baker previously said he is one of the administrators of the Washington Illinois Tornado Recovery page on Facebook.  He said there are 13 administrators in all, including at least two from Washington, who work together to ensure information posted there is accurate and timely.
Related:  Facebook page helps Washington residents, volunteers
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