The Oregon War Veterans Association
upped the ante this week in its legal battle with the Oregon Department of Justice.
In February, the state Justice Department filed a lawsuit
against the association, claiming its executive director, Greg Warnock
, had diverted funds for personal use. Here is an extended statement Warnock issued this week in response to the lawsuit filed by Attorney General John Kroger's
Three weeks ago, the Oregon Attorney General filed a baseless lawsuit against the Oregon War Veterans Association and its Executive Director Greg Warnock (collectively “OWVA”). The civil lawsuit is completely without merit, and is nothing more than a political stunt by the Attorney General to use his office to advance his own political agenda and career. Consider the following:
1. Kroger demanded financial records from OWVA, which were promptly provided to Kroger – 16, 4" binders worth of records. Two days after receiving the 16 volumes of financial information, Kroger informed OWVA that he was going to turn over the records to his political allies via the media! OWVA’s donor lists are protected by the First Amendment, and Kroger is trying to use his authority to uncover OWVA’s donors in order to help Kroger’s political allies. The OWVA filed a lawsuit last year, in Federal Court to prevent his attempt to violate donor rights.
2. Kroger's civil case is another attempt to disclose OWVA's protected donor list, and private communications, through court disclosure. If he is successful, donors would no longer expect their contributions to remain anonymous (as other charities provide) which would severely reduce OWVA's donations. This may violate other areas of First Amendment Protections, including the right to freely associate, without harassment or intimidation from government officials.
3. Before filing the lawsuit against OWVA, Kroger had ample opportunities to interview board members and key personnel of OWVA who could explain the financial records. Kroger declined to talk to anyone from OWVA. Instead, Kroger filed the lawsuit and issued his press release. Only after filing the lawsuit and issuing his press release did Kroger’s office contact OWVA’s legal counsel asking to talk about the facts of the case. A classic case of bullying and “Shoot first, ask questions later!”
4. Kroger’s press release complains that OWVA makes “illegal” or “unreported” political contributions. That didn’t stop Kroger from accepting a $2500 donation from OWVA in 2008. It was only after OWVA started complaining to Kroger about his treatment of disabled veterans and DOJ's probable fraud issues that Kroger began his political persecution of OWVA.
5. Kroger’s actions against OWVA is just another example in a long line of cases where Kroger and his staff have made up evidence, helped Kroger’s political allies, and bullied witnesses into false testimony.
6. Kroger personally attacked OWVA’s Executive Director Greg Warnock, claiming Warnock “[D]iverted funds raised for veterans, to line his own pockets.” Saying that is the equivalent to beating him with baseball bat in a busy intersection! However, OWVA’s President and Chairman of the Board Ken Jacroux (US NAVY Capt. Ret.) says, “All expenditures by OWVA have been appropriated and ratified by the BOD [board of directors]. Without question, the organization’s officers and directors have served above reproach in the handling of all donor contributions since day one.” Of course, had Kroger bothered to talk to someone on OWVA’s Board of Directors before filing the lawsuit, Kroger would have known this fact. But this lawsuit isn’t about facts or the law, this case is about Kroger’s political ambition.
7. As the state’s top attorney, Kroger is supposed to know the law, but Kroger’s lawsuit demonstrates his ignorance of the law. Kroger says that contributions to OWVA (a 501 (c)(19) war veteran’s organization) are not tax deductible if used for political purposes. However, there are a number of publications and orders by the Internal Revenue Service that say otherwise. Oh yeah, there is also the pesky federal law (26 U.S.C. §170(c)(3)) which defines any contribution to a 501(c)(19) organization as a charitable contribution, deductible by the donor, regardless of what the contribution is ultimately used for! Kroger simply does not know the law – yet that did not stop him from attacking OWVA and personally attacking its executive director, Greg Warnock.
8. Kroger is attacking the OWVA because he sees the OWVA as a political enemy in his quest for political power. If OWVA is not able to defend itself, Kroger will continue to abuse his office to advance his political career, at the expense of those organizations who oppose his destructive policies.
9. Kroger needs to be recognized as a political ambitious bully and needs to be stopped. The OWVA is the ONLY, well known veteran's group that seems to be willing to stop Kroger's abuses.
The claims made by Kroger are completely without merit. But, now the OWVA needs help to be able to defend itself against an AG that seems to be using his political position for personal political gain. The OWVA has set up a separate Legal Defense Fund to be used exclusively for defending OWVA and Greg Warnock against Kroger’s unfounded political attacks.
DOJ spokesman Tony Green declined to respond to Warnock's statement.
"I can't comment on pending litigation other than to say we look forward to the facts coming out in court," Green says.