Debbie Schlussel has another follow up on Hannity in which she insists that he did not pay for all those private jets, hotel suites and limos himself when hosting those Freedom Concerts. A lot of it is based on an unnamed source, so it’s impossible to judge whether it’s accurate or not. But the basic allegation is that you have the Freedom Concerts and the Freedom Alliance, owned separately.
Freedom Alliance is the non-profit that gets $4 from every ticket sold to the Freedom Concerts, which is a private company owned by Hannity’s agent. And while it’s technically correct that Freedom Alliance doesn’t pay for all that travel, Freedom Concerts does.
In fact, despite the written denials of both North and Freedom Alliance chief Thomas Kilgannon, Sean Hannity did NOT pay for his own private jet flights to the various Freedom Concerts. In fact, the money for his expensive travel came right from the revenue of the Freedom Concerts, a big, profitable business, which isn’t owned or operated by Freedom Alliance. While the charity is technically correct that Freedom Alliance didn’t pay for it in recent years, in fact Freedom Concert revenue, which is controlled by Hannity’s speaking engagement agents, did. The operant question here is, who owns the Freedom Concerts?
The answer, according to an insider, is apparently Premiere Speakers Bureau, owned by Duane Ward, Oliver North’s longtime PR man, and the speaking engagement agent for both North and Hannity, as well as many FOX News and other conservative personalities. Premiere runs the Freedom Concerts and owns the FreedomConcerts.com domain name, sells the Freedom Concerts merchandise, etc. While only a $4 surcharge on Freedom Concert tickets goes to Freedom Alliance, the rest is controlled by Ward and his various companies. I contacted Duane Ward via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and telephone. He did not respond to questions, which included a request for Freedom Concerts’ financial records and an accounting of Freedom Concert revenues and Premiere travel arrangements for Hannity to fly in high-style to the events. And the inside source-who asked to remain anonymous because of legitimate fears of retaliation by Ward and Hannity-says it’s a huge profit center for Ward and Premiere.
None of this strikes me as problematic, though. If all that is promised is that the $4 surcharge on each ticket goes to the Freedom Alliance, and it does, then there’s really no problem with that. The company can spend whatever they want to get Hannity there to host it.
The real problem here remains with Freedom Alliance itself and the very small percentage of its revenue that goes to those it claims to help. A legitimate non-profit should have no more than 20% overhead; Freedom Alliance has at least 80% overhead, and it has gone as high as 95% over the last few years. That’s the problem.