California Attorney General Kamala Harris [official website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Wednesday against a veterans charity organization alleging that its executives engaged in fraudulent fundraising, false reporting to the IRS and other illegal activities. The lawsuit alleges that the veterans charity Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) [official website] breached its fiduciary duty by spending its charitable assets on golf memberships and condominiums for top executives. The lawsuit also contends that HHV authorized excessive compensation for its executives. California is seeking to recover more that $4.3 million in improperly diverted funds from HHV. In addition to seeking monetary damages California is also asking the court to issue an injunction barring HHV employees from making false representations. HHV has raised over $108 million dollars over the last three years [Reuters report] with 33.8 percent going toward its programs. It was given only one star out of five by Charity Navigator [official website], which rated 59 veterans charities according to financial health, accountability and transparency. Allegations of questionable financial practices among veterans charities, including HHV, surfaced five years ago when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [official website] conducted an investigation [WP report] into such organizations. It is not yet clear when the Riverside County Superior Court [official website] will rule on the California lawsuit.
This week the Supreme Court of California [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that several insurance companies must pay the state up to $60 million to clean up an industrial waste storage site. In a unanimous decision California's high court declared that consecutive state-purchased policies of various insurance companies require that each company pay up to its damage cap for toxic waste spillage at the Stringfellow Acid Pits in Riverside County. Also this week the US Court for the Ninth Circuit [official website] reversed [JURIST report] a decision by the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website], which had ruled in favor of an Oregon-based Islamic nonprofit corporation challenging the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program. The California district court had held that the federal government implicitly waived sovereign immunity under Section 1810 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [LII backgrounder]. Earlier this month the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed an amicus brief [JURIST report] with the California Supreme Court arguing that undocumented immigrants should not be able to practice law in the US even if they passed a state bar exam.