PACs pose as fire department charity to get donation dollars

OKLAHOMA CITY - Bob couldn't get off the phone fast enough.

“Someone's asking me to give ‘em a donation for the fire department,” he said.

Bob was suspicious of the unwanted robocall.

He added, “I have no idea what they're doing, but the thing is the money isn't going- it isn't supporting our firefighters.”

Our In Your Corner reports have exposed these sorts of misleading soliciting tactics for years.

Part of an organization's name may include "police" or "firefighter,” but it doesn't mean they actually have ties to your local department.

We alerted Scott VanHorn, President of Oklahoma City Firefighter's Local 157 Union.

He wants Oklahomans to know they, “will not call you on the phone to try to get you to donate money to the fire department.”

So, just who is calling Oklahomans pleading for money on firefighters' behalf?

You guessed it. This appears to be another one of those PACS or Political Action Committees based in the Washington DC area, and fundraising under the guise of charity.

Some Oklahomans are still falling for it.

Your contribution is actually helping fund political campaigns, specifically advertisements and junk mail.

The PAC behind this latest call appears to go by the names Firefighter's Support Alliance, and Firefighters and EMS Fund, and claims to "advocate for the safety and well-being of firefighters and their families in our political process."

Firefighters and EMS Fund has headquarters in Virginia, yet appears to operate out of Wisconsin.

Their website also says they used some of their contributions in at least two state elections, Oklahoma wasn't one of them.

There's also no mention of any ties to federal legislation that could help firefighters in our state.

“We usually know if there is a push legislatively to go in a direction,” Vanhorn said. “For instance, if they're wanting to do something to social security for firefighters across the country, then we usually know about it, so for something like this to come up, it's disheartening to us.”

The fire department receives its funding from a city sales tax, and the firefighter’s union operates off membership dues.

They won't accept donations from the public.

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