It's an old scam: Set up a bogus charity and a boiler-room call center. Tell people you're raising money for cops, vets or firefighters. Pocket the donations and skip town before the authorities catch on.
But it's not every day that unscrupulous telemarketers actually do work on behalf of the police.
This week's Rogue, the Oregon State Police Officers' Association, has employed a fundraising tactic that is at best misleading and, at worst, bullying.
The association is the union for some 700 state troopers. The troopers use a professional fundraising company, Jadent Inc. of Keizer, to solicit donations from the public that the union uses to supplements members' dues, print union publications and support a scholarship fund.
But Jadent's tactics are troubling. In February, Salem attorney Monty VanderMay says he got a call from a Jadent pitchman who claimed—falsely—that VanderMay had committed to donating to the state police association and buying an ad in Oregon State Trooper magazine.
Then came a bill in the mail that twice used the word "invoice" and gave VanderMay a due date for paying $50. VanderMay complained to the Oregon Department of Justice, calling the pitch "disturbing."
The DOJ let Jadent off with a warning after the company took VanderMay off the call list and said the solicitor—who worked for a subcontractor—was fired. Jadent corporate secretary Tom O'Shea declined to talk to WW but said through an assistant that the matter is "resolved."
The Oregon State Police Officers' Association's most recent federal tax returns show that Jadent pocketed 75 percent of the $491,000 it raised for the association last year. That's an unusually high overhead expense, a national review of charity fundraisers shows.
The money left over for the state police association last year didn't even cover the $143,000 salary of its president, Senior Trooper Jeff Leighty, who stepped down in March.
The current union president, Senior Trooper Darrin Phillips, says his association still employs Jadent but will review its contract this summer. "We want to be in bounds, and we want to make sure Jadent is in bounds," Phillips says. He accepts the company's explanation. "We've had very few complaints," he says.
Reached at his home in Canby, Leighty, the former union president, said he hadn't heard of the DOJ investigation into Jadent.
But he did know a thing or two about dealing with unwanted phone calls.
"I'm not talking to you about this," he said. "Don't call me about this."