Wednesday, September 14, 2022

In 2010 the IL Attorney General launched an investigation into $10M in state & federal tax dollars misappropriated by the tainted, politically-connected Save-A-Life Foundation - 12 years on, the investigation's still open, so I've asked current AG Kwame Raoul to investigate

September 14, 2022

The Hon. Kwame Raoul
Illinois Attorney General
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62701

Dear Mr. Raoul:

I'm writing regarding your office's 12+ year investigation of a tainted nonprofit, the Chicago-area Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF). SALF, which from 2006-2020 has been the subject of dozens of media exposes, was dissolved as an Illinois corporation in 2009.

SALF was founded in 1993 by the late Carol Jean Spizzirri, a convicted shoplifter and child batterer, according to an order of protection filed in 1992 by her daughter, Christina Jean Pratt. To perpetrate the SALF scam, Spizzirri falsely claimed to be a registered nurse and relentlessly promoted a fabricated backstory about Christina's tragic 1993 death.

SALF reportedly received over $10 million in tax dollars and what I estimate to be tens of thousands of dollars in private grants. Based on media reports and my estimates, about $7 million came from Illinois state taxpayers (including $200,000 to buy an office building in Springfield) and over $3 million came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first million of which was arranged by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in 1999.

To obtain the funding, SALF claimed the money would be used to provide training in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver to students in Illinois schools.

In 2009, Spizzirri told the Chicago Tribune her organization trained about two million students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), then-headed by future U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who called Spizzirri “one of my heroes.” As documented on my web site, Duncan personally arranged a $174,000 contract for SALF to provide first aid training classes for 18,000 CPS students from 2004-06.

However, in response to my FOIA requests, CPS failed to produce a single training record. Further, in 2003 your agency awarded $25,000 to SALF to provide first aid training to students in these schools:

Salem School District #111 (Marion County)
South Central Community Unit School District #401 (Kinmundy, Marion County)
Camp Point CU School District #3
Beardstown CU School District #15
Rantoul City School District #137 (Champaign County)
Cass County School Districts (Cass County)
Edwardsville CU School District #7
Greenview CU School District #200

Per IL Senator Tim Bivins' 2012 emails to then-IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan (which include thorough documentation), none of the eight schools had records of any training.

In a 2015 interview, Senator Bivens said, "(SALF) claimed they had trained thousands and thousands of children...We can't substantiate that all of these children were trained."

As you may know, in approximately June 2010, your office initiated an investigation into SALF. According to a 2010 IL Public Radio report, "The Illinois Attorney General's office confirms it is reviewing how the funds were used, as is done whenever a charitable organization disbands."

To learn the outcome of the investigation, every six months or so, I file FOIA requests with your agency, asking for related records.

In an August 15, 2022 response to my most recent FOIA request, Assistant Attorney General Mark Rogina wrote: "(This office has reviewed) its records, and we determined that approximately 10,000 pages of records are maintained only in physical, hard copy form."

Based on the volume of documents, he suggested I narrow my request. I did so, resubmitted it, and received this August 22, 2022 response from Mr. Rogina:

Please be advised that because this investigation remains ongoing, we have no records responsive to your request.

It's unclear why it's taking your office over 12 years to investigate a long-defunct, thoroughly-discredited organization. Still, I hope you agree that the public is entitled to learn what happened to the millions of misappropriated tax dollars.

With that hope in mind, this is to respectfully request that you initiate a review to determine if the investigation of SALF has been conducted properly.

This is also to respectfully request that you provide me with the name of the staff member leading the SALF investigation and an approximate date when the investigation will be completed. I appreciate your consideration and I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USAphone/text: (678)322-7984‬
email: peter.heimlich@gmail.com
website: http://medfraud.info
blog: http://the-sidebar.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/medfraud_pmh
bio: http://tinyurl.com/ych7o7dr

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Fox TV's streaming service, Fox Nation, is offering a non-existent "free trial" subscription - I've filed complaints with the FTC & my state's Consumer Protection Division (UPDATE: NYs ATG is pursuing my complaint)

6/14/22 UPDATE:
 

5/20/22 UPDATE:


#####

Today I unexpectedly stumbled onto this in the course of reporting a story about Fox News.

From the home page of Fox Nation:


See that "Start Your Free Trial" balloon? Stick in pin in it.

Here's a screenshot of the top results of a Google keyword search for "Fox Nation" "free trial." (Click the link and you'll see plenty of other results.)


Click on any of the "free trial" offer links and most take you back to the Fox Nation home page which contains "Start Your Free Trial" balloons and boxes up and down the page.  


But click any of the "Start Your Free Trial" balloons and boxes and you'll land on this page which offers no free trial option, only these paid subscriptions.



Here's what you get when you click the "monthly" button:











See the offer for the free trial? neither do I.

Obviously, this is fraudulent advertising so this afternoon I filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division.


Note: This item has been appended with new reporting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

After I requested a published correction for a factual error, the Delaware News Journal disappeared the error - I've asked parent company Gannett for a ruling

For online news outlets that want to cover up reportorial errors, the digital age is a wish granted. 

A reporter gets something wrong? Just disappear it.

How bad can it get? Per a 2019 story in the journalism watchdog Press Gazette, my efforts uncovered that the vast majority of UK news outlets can disappear entire stories without recourse.

Moving right along, what you're reading is tied to my January 26, 2022 blog item, My dad's name has been scrubbed from a Delaware solar farm after I informed energy companies of his dark history.

At the time, I pitched the story to a bunch of Delaware news outlets including the News Journal, the leading daily in Wilmington, but I didn't get any takers.

A few days ago my Google News alert sent me a March 4, 2022 Journal News story by reporter Ben Mace because it included these words:








Straightforward factual error, right? Per my blog, my dad's name had been dropped from the solar farm. 

So on March 6, I emailed a polite request for a published correction to this department and copied Mr. Mace:











The News Journal is owned by Gannett, so in my request I pointed out that any correction should adhere to Gannett's editorial guidelines which in this case should include an explanation that the name  of the solar project was changed and on what date - also perhaps why it was changed.

I never received a reply, but this morning I revisited the paywalled article and found this:


And this scrub job:



You may not be surprised to learn that the article, updated the day after I sent my request, includes no note informing readers that the article's been corrected and why.

In my opinion, that's sleazy journalism and may violate Gannett newsroom guidelines (see below), so this morning I asked a Gannett editorial representative for a ruling. 

I'll update this item with the results.

Correcting errors

When errors occur, the newspaper has an ethical obligation to correct the record and minimize harm.

  • Errors should be corrected promptly. But first, a determination must be made that the fact indeed was in error and that the correction itself is fully accurate.
  • Errors should be corrected with sufficient prominence that readers who saw the original error are likely to see the correction. This is a matter of the editor’s judgment.
  • Although it is wise to avoid repeating the error in the correction, the correction should have sufficient context that readers will understand exactly what is being corrected.
  • Errors of nuance, context or tone may require clarifications, editor’s notes, editor’s columns or letters to the editor.
  • When the newspaper disagrees with a news subject about whether a story contained an error, editors should consider offering the aggrieved party an opportunity to express his or her view in a letter to the editor.
  • Corrections should be reviewed before publication by a senior editor who was not directly involved in the error. The editor should determine if special handling or outside counsel are required.
  • Errors should be corrected whether or not they are called to the attention of the newspaper by someone outside the newsroom.
  • Factual errors should be corrected in most cases even if the subject of the error does not want it to be corrected. The rationale for this is rooted in the Truth Principle. It is the newspaper’s duty to provide accurate information to readers. An exception may be made – at the behest of the subject – when the correction of a relatively minor mistake would result in public ridicule or greater harm than the original error.
  • Newsroom staffers should be receptive to complaints about inaccuracies and follow up on them.
  • Newsroom staffers have a responsibility to alert the appropriate editor if they become aware of a possible error in the newspaper. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

My dad's name has been scrubbed from a Delaware solar farm after I informed energy companies of his dark history [UPDATED]

A day after I sent a letter to three companies developing a solar energy farm in Delaware named after my father, the late Henry J. Heimlich MD (best known for his namesake anti-choking maneuver), his name has been stripped from the project.

I learned of the project via this January 20, Cape Gazette item, Delaware Electric Cooperative solar projects to provide clean power:
Seven new utility-scale solar projects will begin providing clean energy to Delaware Electric Cooperative members over the next three years. The nonprofit utility has announced it will purchase power produced at solar facilities to be built across Kent and Sussex counties.

...Construction will also begin this year on the 4.5-megawatt Heimlich Solar Facility that will power about 900 Sussex County homes, farms and businesses. The project is a partnership between Delaware Electric Cooperative and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, which is owned by DEC and 10 other nonprofit electric cooperatives.

The 35-acre facility is being built along Mile Stretch Road just west of Greenwood. Once completed, the facility will feature nearly 16,000 individual solar panels. The project is being managed by EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions, a developer of solar and battery storage projects in North America. The site, which is expected to begin producing power in late 2022, is named after Delaware native Henry Heimlich, who invented the Heimlich Maneuver.
Here's my January 24 inquiry to executives at the companies (click here to download a copy) and the email reply I received last night.



blogger inquiry

Christine Karlovic <Christine.Karlovic@edf-re.com>
To: "peter.heimlich@gmail.com" <peter.heimlich@gmail.com>
Cc: Sandi Briner <Sandi.Briner@edf-re.com>
Tue, Jan 25, 2022 at 7:41 PM

Dear Mr. Heimlich: 

 

Thank you for bringing to our attention the history relating to your late father and the naming of the solar project.  We have discussed the matter and will be changing the name of the project in the next couple of weeks to something more suitable.  

 

We thank you again for bringing your concern to our attention. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Christine Karlovic 

EDFLogo

Christine Karlovic

Director, Communications

T: 1.917.371.5778


1/29/22 UPDATE

Via the Wayback Machine, a screenshot from San Diego-based EDF Renewables website about the project (with "Deleware" typo):



Same page today (with same typo):