Are Fla. charities using money for right purposes?

Florida cracks down on charitable organizations not giving back

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Are charities using the money that is donated to them for the right purposes? Florida has learned from past mistakes and is cracking down on the charitable organizations that aren't giving back.

The Allied Veterans of the World Internet Cafe scandal changed the way charities are viewed in the state.

Then Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned because of her ties to the $300 million gambling operation posing as a charity. The Internet cafe group actually gave very little to veterans. The legislature passed a bill this year to try and stop history from repeating itself.

"There was a need to crackdown on some of these charities that were taking money from people who were giving their hardworking money to the charities and then them not giving it to the causes," said Department of Agriculture Press Secretary Erin Gillespie.

The Department of Agriculture said the bill could have helped stop the Internet cafe scandal before it got out of control.

"It would certainly have made it more difficult. It does request more information from charities especially those that take in more than a million dollars," said Gillespie. "It also bans charities in Florida that had problems in other states, which we were not able to do before."

Eleven Florida charities landed on a nationwide "50 worst charities list" last year.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, sponsored the charity crackdown bill.

"That's just unconscionable that we would literally steal money from people," said Brandes. "They're saying it was a charitable contribution and they're just using it to line their own pockets."

The legislation is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature.

Professional solicitors who use telemarketing to collect funds would need to provide fingerprints and background checks, and report to the state the contributions that will be used for the charity.

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