Kansas Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan has filed a lawsuit against the Jordan International Circus for soliticing money in a manner he believes violated the Kansas Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act.
The lawsuit against John Jordan, Las Vegas, Nev., was filed Tuesday in Douglas County District Court. In it, Stephan alleges that Jordan's solicitors called local residents asking them to sponsor children to attend an April 12 circus to raise money for the Correctional Peace Officers of Lawrence and Douglas County.
However, Stephan said the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation Inc., of Seaside, Calif., has no office and no members living in Douglas County.
The foundation claims that its purpose is to "raise funds to assist families of correctional peace officers killed in the line of duty or suffering from catastrophic illnesses." According to Stephan, the solicitors also stated that donations from ticket sales would be used for families of soldiers who were killed in action in Operation Desert Storm. However, the foundation did not list this as one of its purposes for raising money when it filed with the Secretary of State's office.
STEPHAN also said that Jordon was acting as a professional fund-raiser as defined in the Kansas Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act but that he did not register with the Secretary of State's office prior to soliciting donations as required by law.
In addition, the petition alleges that Jordan's telephone solicitors did not provide any of the required information, such as the name, address and telephone number of the charitable organization during the solicitations.
The circus went on as planned April 12 at Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, said Don Dalquest, Douglas County undersheriff who asked Stephan to investigate the fund-raiser.
Stephan has asked that Jordan be required to pay actual damages to any consumers harmed as a result of his violations of the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act and that he pay investigative fees to the office of the attorney general as well as $2,000 in civil penalties for each violation of the act.
Attempts to reach Jordan and the Jordan International Circus this morning were unsuccessful.
"IN ADDITION to this lawsuit, my office will continue to monitor the fund-raising activities of charitable organizations like the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation Inc.," Stephan said in a news release. "According to its 1989 report, the foundation spent only $30,000 of the $533,933 it raised on the charitable purposes it claims to represent. That means the charity spends nearly 80 percent of the funds it raises on fund-raising activities.
"While I cannot tell a charitable organization how much of the money it raises must go toward a charitable purpose, I will do everything I can to make sure that as many Kansas residents as possible have this information before they donate."