• George W. Bush Charged $100K for Speech at Wounded Veterans Event

    July 10, 2015 // 7 Comments »

    George Bush Mission Accomplished

    Talk about creating your own job opportunities!

    Former president George W. not only started a bunch of wars that produced a bunch of wounded veterans, he pulled in mucho dinero making a speech for a wounded vets’ charity group. Hey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! (Unless you lost both hands in Iraq or something like former Marine Eddie Wright, below, and can’t.)

    Bush Bills $100k

    Class act and former president George W. Bush, who still has all his limbs, billed a charity for wounded military veterans $100,000 in speaking fees in 2012. Bush charged Texas-based Helping a Hero that amount in 2012. The organization also provided Bush with private jet travel to Houston at a cost of $20,000.

    And in a gesture that would make a Clinton proud, Laura Bush pocketed $50,000 after appearing for the group in 2011.

    “It was great because Bush reduced his normal fee of $250,000 down to $100,000,” said Meredith Iler, Helping a Hero’s former chairwoman. That’s actually not even true; a recent report by Politico said Bush’s fees typically ranged between $100,000 and $175,000 during those years.

    Helping a Hero, when it is not paying out six figure speaking fees, also fundraises for homes for military veterans. It focuses on men and women who suffered in Bush’s own two signature wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. But be sure to see more on how the wealthy charity folks don’t help veterans while enriching themselves, below.



    Few Regrets

    Former Marine Eddie Wright, a former member of Helping a Hero’s board, criticized the payout.

    “For him to be paid to raise money for veterans that were wounded in combat under his orders, I don’t think that’s right,” Wright said. “You sent me to war. I was doing what you told me to do, gladly for you and our country and I have no regrets.”

    George W., too, has few regrets. He told one reporter he plans to “replenish the ol’ coffers” on the lecture circuit. A spokesperson for Bush confirmed the payment and added, “President Bush has made helping veterans one of his highest priorities in his post presidency.”

    “But it is kind of a slap in the face,” added Wright, who lost both hands during a rocket attack in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.

    BONUS: Fallujah is now fully-controlled by Islamic State. Speaking opportunities for Bush are limited there, but in other ways I’m sure IS would love to see him drop by.



    Wealthy Hero Charity Mostly Helps Themselves, Not Vets

    The great Americans at Helping a Hero have come under criticism for, well, helping themselves.

    In the last seven years, Helping A Hero provided 65 homes across the nation for wounded war veterans. So that’s a little better than nine a year. They must also be nice homes — the charity pulled in $4 million in donations just last year. A little math says each home must either be worth close to $450,000, or the money is going somewhere else, maybe to speeches and private jets.

    Also, a number of veterans who have received these homes, as well as former board members and workers in the organization, have complained about a lack of financial transparency. They have cited mortgage contracts with special stipulations such as requiring new home­owners to promote the organization over a 10-year period or risk losing their houses. And they say Meredith Iler, Helping a Hero’s now-former chairwoman, pressured veterans and their wives to sell chemical-free beauty and health care products made by a company called Arbonne International.

    Arbonne uses home parties to sell products through direct sales, like Mary Kay or Avon. And guess what — the company awarded Meredith Iler a free Mercedes-Benz after she rose from sales consultant to regional vice president in 90 days based on her “team’s” sales.

    Helping a Hero is also now the subject of a pending lawsuit to stop the charity from reclaiming a house from the family of a blind soldier who died after receiving the property.

    Retired Army Colonel Karen Lloyd, the organization’s former public relations chairman who resigned from the board, questioned $7,500 in expenses listed on the balance sheet for the 2011 “Rodeo Queens for the Troops” Christmas party that she helped organize. She said the venue, barbecue, pies and candy canes were all donated, but she didn’t know who paid for the expensive Arbonne gift bags handed out. Lloyd further alleges “waste, fraud and abuse” of charity funds, “illegal raffle ticket sales” by the charity, and Iler “benefiting personally from the charity’s credit card.”

    Iler denies everything. Of course she does.



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    Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Military

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