Lawmaker working on new bill to stop lying charities

SALEM, Ore. -- An Oregon lawmaker is working on a new bill to stop charities that don't tell the truth to the state about their histories of discipline, after seeing a KATU report about the problem.

State Representative Vicki Berger, R-Salem, said she wants the bill to give the state more tools and more power to go after dishonest charities.

"Absolutely, they should tell the truth," said Berger about the charities. "Everyone should tell the truth, but particularly any organization asking anything of Oregonians should be honest and up forward about it."

Charities that register in Oregon are required to tell the state if they have a history of disciplinary actions in other states. The KATU Problem Solvers investigation showed that many charities tell the state that they do not, when they actually do, including charities that have thousands of dollars in fines and disciplinary agreements.

"And that's what makes you angry," said Berger. "I thought, 'This is something we can fix.'"

Berger said current laws don't give the Attorney General's Office the strength it needs to take care of the problem. The bill would change that, Berger said.

"The A.G. can go after them and say, 'You lied to us, we're going to revoke. Or we're going to fine you. Or you have to resubmit and if it's not correct, then you are no longer allowed to be a charity. That's my goal," said Berger.

Berger plans to introduce the bill in the upcoming legislative session.

"Right now, we're giving to charities," Berger said. "It's Christmas time and we need to know the money is going to the services we're trying to support and not going to scams or out-of-state people who aren't doing right by us."