A professional fundraising company based in Arizona is accused of deceptive marketing practices in Iowa. Bob Brammer, spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, says Midwest Publishing is named in a lawsuit filed today. "We allege that they made thousands of calls into Iowa and that people were misled," Brammer said.
Under a court-ordered agreement, Midwest Publishing denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay 30-thousand dollars to the state and could pay 100-thousand dollars more if the deceptive practices persist. Brammer says the company’s telemarketers were not completely honest with the Iowans they called. "They used misrepresentations, implying or saying that they were members of the charitable organization, or that the money was going to be used locally, when that wasn’t the case," Brammer said. The telemarketers allegedly said a large portion of any donation would go to the charity when, in fact, the charity only received about 15-percent of the money raised while Midwest kept the remaining 85-percent. Some of the callers lied and said they were Iowans themselves.
Brammer says there are several dozen professional fundraising companies registered in Iowa that are hired to solicit donations on behalf of charities. "And sometimes, number one, the professional fundraiser eats up most of the donation, but number two, sometimes they engage in deception and misrepresentation," Brammer said. "That’s what we allege happened here." According to the complaint, Midwest solicited donations in Iowa on behalf of the Iowa Narcotics Officers Association, the Firefighters Charitable Foundation in New York and Operation Lookout in Everett, Washington.