"So you're from the Department of Public Safety?," I asked. He evaded, repeating that he was calling from the highway patrol. "So you're calling from the Department of Public Safety," I repeated, "because the highway patrol is part of DPS?" At first he said "yes," he was from DPS, then backtracked and equivocated. I pressed and he told me he was paid by a museum in San Antonio. "So you told me you're from the highway patrol raising money for families of dead troopers but really you're from a museum in San Antonio?" He said "No, that's why I said at the beginning I'm calling from the Texas Highway Patrol Association." He had in fact never said the word "association" before that moment. At that point I told him I wouldn't be giving him any money and he should tell his supervisor to expect a complaint to the Attorney General. I'm certainly not giving a dime to somebody on the phone who I've caught in a bold-faced lie.
Afterward, I got online to discover that the Better Business Bureau in the past has recommended against giving money to this organization. A 2008 report from KSAT-TV in San Antonio declared that:
The Texas Highway Patrol Museum, located at 812 South Alamo St., isn't a large San Antonio attraction, but the museum and its parent office raise large sums of donations, according to a KSAT Defenders investigation.
During one donation drive, telemarketers working on behalf of the Texas Highway Patrol Association raised $1.8 million with the story of Trooper Todd Holmes, who was killed in a traffic collision while on duty.The organization donated $12,500 to Holmes' family, according to state records.
Because of the organization's expenses, including a salary of $182,872 for its executive vice president, four luxury vehicles and salaries totaling $1.1 million, the Better Business Bureau of Houston advises potential givers to not donate to the Texas Highway Patrol Association.
According to the THPA Web site, the organization is not affiliated with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the umbrella agency that oversees the Texas Highway Patrol.I checked the Texas Attorney General's website where groups raising money for law enforcement are required to register and found this form (pdf) from FY 2009 documenting their finances. The group raised $2,142,914 in that year and roughly 90% - $1,925,835 - was spent on fundraising costs. (Another page on the AG's site says fundraising costs that year were only 32%, but that doesn't jibe with the documentation filed by THPA.) A nonprofit spending 90% of contributions on fundraising isn't a legitimate charity, IMO it's a straight-up hustle.
What a sleazy business model, picking the bones of dead troopers! Maybe it's legal, but if so the law is doing little to protect the public from manipulative solicitations on behalf of law enforcement. The THPA telemarketer flat-out misrepresented who he was to me, and by all accounts only the tiniest fraction of donations goes for the purpose they say: supporting families of dead DPS officers. This group is about as much about helping troopers as buzzards are about helping roadkill.