"Put Vets First!" PAC only gave $7K of the $2.35M donated to veterans

Millions of dollars raised for a PAC to help veterans went to the treasurer and telemarketers instead.

Brian Arthur Hampton is a retired Army major and the treasurer of a veterans-focused political action committee called Put Vets First! However, the only vet Hampton appears to be putting first is himself as his charitable operations are currently under investigation.

Hampton paid himself $20,350 last December, which was three times the compensation he received in December of 2016. His overall salary for 2017 ended up being $110,000 which is considerably more than leaders of federal PACs typically earn.

According to his tax records for 2016, Hampton earned over 300k from two other veteran-focused charities that he runs: The Circle of Friends for American Veterans and the Center for American Homeless Veterans. He runs all three of these groups from his office in Falls Church, Virginia.

Hampton’s organizations use telemarketers to raise funds, millions of dollars that are donated with the intention of helping American veterans. However, the telemarketers keep roughly 90% of the money raised and nearly all the rest goes to overhead and Hampton's compensation. Only about .3%, or $7,000, made it to the vague “veterans advocacy.”

In an emailed statement, Hampton was quoted as saying, “Our PAC fundraising costs are indeed high.” His Put Vets First! PAC managed to raise $2.35 million in 2017, mostly in small donations. The PAC spent $2.32 million in 2017 with $2.1 million of it going to pay the fundraising companies, but none of it went to any political committees or congressional candidates.

The basic purpose of a PAC is to raise money to help elect a candidate that supports the cause or help defeat one that is antithetical to the PACs interests. Although, federal law gives PACs a lot of leeway regarding how the money is spent.

Hampton prefers to educate the candidate about veteran related issues via phone calls instead of donating to their campaigns. He said, “Our own experience is that relentless and ongoing dialogues with candidates is more effective than outright monetary contributions we made in the past.”

So, if Hampton’s PAC isn’t raising money for campaign donations and only .3% off the funds are actually going to charitable causes...what exactly is the purpose of all that telemarketing?

Read more about the misplaced priorities, “Leader of Put Vets First! PAC prioritizes telemarketers and himself” written by Sarah Kleiner at the Center for Public Integrity posted on February 11, 2018.