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June 26, 2009

Authorities Pose No Obstacle to Shady AIDS Charity’s Aggressive Fundraising

"In late March, we published an investigation [1] of the Center for AIDS Prevention [2], a Beverly Hills, Calif., charity that wages high-profile fundraising campaigns, spreads inaccurate health information and dodges questions about how it spends donations. Three months later, the group is still at it -- despite the fact that authorities are aware of its activities. The case is a window into the fractured and often ineffective oversight of nonprofits.

"The center's 18-month advertising campaign has made it to the Web pages of the New York Times [3], Chicago Tribune [4] (PDF), Los Angeles Times [5] (PDF) and USA Today [6], and the print edition of the Wall Street Journal [7] (PDF), urging viewers to "Donate Now." The most recent series of ads appeared on the Web site of the LA Times [5] (PDF) between May 28 and June 9.

"While the center invested heavily in soliciting the public's money, its services appear to include little more than a Web site that long featured inaccurate information, such as the suggestion that birth control pills prevent the spread of HIV [8] (PDF), a claim that has since been revised. Until March, it promoted ineffective herbal remedies [9] (PDF) marketed by a now-defunct for-profit company with ties to the center's director, Steve Neely."

Read more in ProPublica, June 24, 2009.