Jordan Schachtel reports that Adam Kinzinger was on the Board of a Ukraine organization named Ripley’s Heroes that appears to have scammed people out of millions of dollars.
“There is now an ongoing federal investigation into Ripley’s, according to NYT. Ripley’s donations were used to funnel cash from the non-profit into a for-profit venture. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is fraud,” Schachtel reports.
The title of the Times article is Stolen Valor: The U.S. Volunteers in Ukraine Who Lie, Waste and Bicker. More below.
Kinzinger was ON THE BOARD of the Ukraine org that scammed people out of millions of dollars! https://t.co/xSXHOyK25b
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) March 25, 2023
The article recognizes the courageous, honest people who traveled to Ukraine and fought ferociously alongside Ukrainians and those who provided generous help. However, many, including Ripley’s Heroes, are under investigation for corruption and stolen valor.
The following are excerpts from the Times.
‘A Million Lies’
One of the best-known Americans on the battlefield is James Vasquez. Days after the invasion, Mr. Vasquez, a Connecticut home improvement contractor, announced that he was leaving for Ukraine. His local newspaper told the tale of a former U.S. Army staff sergeant who left behind his job and family and picked up a rifle and a rucksack on the front line.
Since then, he has posted battlefield videos online, at least once broadcasting his unit’s precise location to everyone, including the opposing side. He used his story to solicit donations. “I was in Kuwait during Desert Storm, and I was in Iraq after 9/11,” Mr. Vasquez said in a fund-raising video. He added, “This is a whole different animal.”
Mr. Vasquez, in fact, was never deployed to Kuwait, Iraq or anywhere else, a Pentagon spokeswoman said. He specialized in fuel and electrical repairs. And he left the Army Reserve not as a sergeant as he claimed, but as a private first class, one of the Army’s lowest ranks….
He fought alongside Da Vinci’s Wolves, a Ukrainian far-right battalion, until this past week, when The Times asked about his false military service claims. He immediately deactivated his Twitter account and said that he might leave Ukraine because the authorities had discovered that he was fighting without a required military contract. [ILLEGALLY]
Mr. Vasquez said he had been misrepresenting his military record for decades. He acknowledged being kicked out of the Army but would not talk publicly about why. “I had to tell a million lies to get ahead,” Mr. Vasquez said in an interview. “I didn’t realize it was going to come to this.”
Absent Paper Trail
Last spring, a volunteer group called Ripley’s Heroes said it had spent approximately $63,000 on night-vision and thermal optics. Some of the equipment was subject to American export restrictions because, in the wrong hands, it could give enemies a battlefield advantage.
Frontline volunteers said Ripley’s delivered the equipment to Ukraine without required documentation listing the actual buyers and recipients. Recently, the federal authorities began investigating the shipments, U.S. officials said…
Ripley’s says it has raised over $1 million, some of it thanks to the former Connecticut contractor, Mr. Vasquez, who claimed to be the group’s chief strategy officer and promoted Ripley’s to his online audience.
Ripley’s spent about $25,000 on remote-control reconnaissance cars last year, but they never arrived, shipping records show. Colonel Rawlings said the Polish authorities had held them up over legal concerns.
Colonel Rawlings has said that his group is awaiting American nonprofit status. But he has not revealed his spending or proof of a nonprofit application to The Times or to donors who have asked. So it is not clear where the money is going. “I believed these guys,” said Shaun Stants, who said he had organized a fund-raiser in October in Pittsburgh but was never shown the financial records he asked for. “And they took me for a fool.”