- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2016

The nation’s lowest-rated veterans charity is run by a lawyer at the Department of Veterans Affairs with a six-figure income.

The National Vietnam Veterans Foundation gave just $122,000 in cash donations to veterans in 2014 despite pulling in $8.5 million, tax records obtained by CNN show.

J. Thomas Burch, the CEO and founder of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, sped off in a Rolls Royce when confronted by the network on Monday.

“Mr. Burch! Mr Burch! Mr Burch!” a reporter implored as the vehicle took off down a suburban street in Washington, D.C. The network wanted to know how just 2 percent of all donations to NVVF were funneled to actual Vietnam veterans.

Charity Navigator, one of the most influential charity watchdog organizations in the U.S., gave Mr. Burch’s organization a zero-star rating on a four-star scale.

“You can’t go lower than that,” says Michael Thatcher, Charity Navigator’s CEO. “They don’t have an independent board of directors, they actually don’t even have a comprehensive board of directors — only three members on the board at this point in time and some of them are family. So one can say, is this representative of an independent board? It’s not.”

Mr. Burch, who is also a veteran, even designated an $11,128 “emergency” infusion of cash to his brother as one of the group’s donations.

Some of the other expenses listed on the group’s 2014 tax returns include:

  • Travel: $133,000
  • Parking: $8,000
  • Unnamed “awards”: $21,000
  • Other expense: $70,000

Mr. Burch refused to respond to CNN’s requests for comment, although David Kauffman, NVVF’s vice president, defended the organization in an email.

He said NVVF fed “homeless and unemployed veterans by donating to food banks, sent personal care kits to hospitalized veterans and donated blankets, hats and gloves to homeless centers.”

Drew Griffin, CNN’s senior investigative correspondent, told Jake Tapper that Mr. Burch’s position in the VA is now being reviewed by the agency’s Office of Inspector General.

“We have an open invitation to Mr. Burch. If he wants to defend his zero-star rated charity, we are happy to sit down and listen,” Mr. Griffin said.

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