Mark Fitzgibbons, President of Corporate Affairs at American Target Advertising (ATA), America’s oldest and largest cause-related direct response agency founded by political direct mail pioneer Richard A. Viguerie, issued the following statement about a February 7 smear of Veterans in Defense of Liberty (VIDOL) by the Better Business Bureau’s St. Louis office:
“The BBB’s issuance of, then refusal to take adequate actions to correct, its false and reckless smear of VIDOL is an indication that the BBB may be biased against conservatives in the same way as disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner.
“The bias of the BBB against those who don’t pay them money was well documented in the ABC News show 20/20 and reported in March 2013 by Time magazine: Why the Better Business Bureau Should Give Itself a Bad Grade.
“The BBB February 7 release is the latest example of its continuing bias and questionable integrity. The release recklessly misleads the public about the mission of VIDOL, which is NOT a charity established to distribute funds to veterans, but is a social welfare organization established to educate and inform the public about the plight of veterans, lobby on their behalf – especially with regards to the VA health care system, and to promote the constitutional values shared by millions of veterans who have graced our country and our flag with their service. VIDOL is tax-exempt under tax code section 501(c)(4). Charities are exempt under section 501(c)(3), and have substantially different purposes.
“The BBB seems to have used one standard to judge a liberal organization, and a different standard for a conservative organization. It claimed, for example, with regard to the controversial leftwing 501(c)(4) organization Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, an imitator of the now-defunct ACORN, that the ‘organization is also not a charity and therefore BBB would not issue a BBB Charity Report.’ The treatment of VIDOL is so inconsistent with what the BBB claims to be its standards that this smells of partisan politics from another large institution whose national headquarters are tightly within the Washington, D.C. swamp.
“The BBB’s evaluation of expenditures by VIDOL for its grassroots education and advocacy program is unprofessional, misleading, and legally incompetent. The BBB failed to attempt to properly verify the information in its libelous smear of VIDOL and ATA. The BBB’s Michelle Corey and principals within the national headquarters were advised of the falsity of this BBB smear, but have stubbornly refused to cure this libel many days later, causing one to seriously question their true motivations and integrity.
“VIDOL was founded by a true patriot and veteran, Dr. William Scott Magill. Dr. Magill and his team take no salary from VIDOL. VIDOL receives no taxpayer dollars, and is not funded by billionaires, unions, corporations, or wealthy foundations that finance leftwing organizations attempting to destroy the constitutional values shared by millions of our hero veterans.
“The BBB release begins with misleading readers to believe VIDOL is a charity: ‘A Galena, Mo., man recently turned to BBB for advice after receiving dozens of charity mailers … A Springfield, Mo.-based group called Veterans in Defense of Liberty was among the more than dozen organizations which sent the man donation forms.’
“The BBB knows full-well that the public would be shocked and disturbed if a professional fundraiser “kept 94 percent of the money raised for” a charity, and positioned and pushed its whole ambush to harm the reputation and finances of VIDOL and Dr. Magill.
“Since the BBB was ‘caught,’ it has removed an inappropriate negative rating of VIDOL from its release, but the release remains misleading, and its publication, and the BBB’s active encouragement and participation with news agencies in this smear, remains forever on the Internet.
“Consistent with the BBB’s bullying conduct, last week I ‘coincidentally’ received in the mail a letter from the BBB asking for information on ATA, sent just one day after I complained to the BBB about its February 7 release. The letter included a warning that if I did not reply, that has an effect on our ‘rating.’ Strange that I received the first BBB letter I can recollect within days after I complained about the BBB’s lack of integrity. Perhaps the BBB’s website should carry a warning: ‘Question or criticize us, and you’ll pay.’”
A more detailed explanation of the facts and observations showing why the BBB’s release is materially misleading and irresponsible is provided at this link: http://americantarget.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/BBBVIDOLFacts.pdf.