VA Exec Who Ran Sketchy Charity Allowed To Retire With Full Benefits

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) executive Thomas Burch, who ran a sketchy charity that provided him with lavish trips, will nevertheless retire with full benefits.

Burch, a lawyer for the VA, is set to retire on Nov. 30 with full benefits, despite investigations by the VA and New York Attorney General’s office finding that he used his veterans’ charity for personal gain, CNN reports.

CNN first exposed Burch’s involvement with the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation in May. Prior to that point, the VA claimed no knowledge of Burch’s activities.

As part of his work with the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Burch raised more than $29 million in four years.

The reason the charity has attracted so much negative attention is because only 2 percent of donations actually went to veterans. Most of the funds went to fundraising efforts, or were otherwise misspent.

Charity Navigator, a watchdog organization for non-profits, gave the charity a rating of zero for those four years.

“It’s a zero-star organization and you can’t go lower than that,” Michael Thatcher, Charity Navigator’s CEO, said. “They don’t have an independent board of directors, they actually don’t even have a comprehensive board of directors — only three members on the board at this point in time and some of them are family. So one can say, is this representative of an independent board? It’s not.”

Burch used donations on travel and a large salary, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The charity even provided him with a large severance package after he cut off ties with the organization.

“There is nothing more shameless than exploiting military veterans in order to enrich oneself. The actions of this charity and its founder are appalling,” Schneiderman said in a statement announcing the end of the charity.

Although the VA announced last week it was moving to fire Burch, the agency allowed him to retire later this month.

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