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BSA Inc. - Boy Scouts a Corporate Fraud

by xrepub
Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 06:16:04 PM PDT

OK.....snicker a bit.... Boy Scouts is a bit geeky and old fashioned BUT the intents were good. I had a good experience as a kid and ao ahve millions of others BUT there's been a real change in BSA over the past 20 years. A good organization has been co-opted by a cadre of good old boys who are looting it for all its worth while hiding their failures behind rhetoric. They use political ties to get favorable treatment and directed funding that no other non-profit receives. They're hiding behind BSA's "Norman Rockwell" image and looting it for all its worth. Any questioning is an attack on their "values" - sound familiar?

Thre are great and dedicated volunteers in Boy Scout. Some of the best people you could meet. But many are walking away, fed up with the organization they belong to. BSA Inc. doesn't care about boys. It cares only about money and numbers. A few Executives are doing very well at the expense of others. 

I'm prompted to write this reading how a Congressmen is donating Abramoff funds to Boy Scouts. They don't deserve them. much more....

The irony is that those trying to vainly defend a guy like DeLay by saying he's really a Boy Scout may be unwittingly dead on the money - literally.

The real story on BSA, Inc. is pretty disillusioning

A respected organization for youth has been "co-opted" at the upper levels - it's one more corporate scandal a la Enron. The executives running the company are grabbing all they can while the organization fails. They fake results and sell off assets, punish whistleblowers. The organization fails but they grow fat and comfortable. 

The head of BSA is one of the highest compensated non-profit CEO's in the country - detailed below. The Board of Directors - as usual - is clueless and fails to oversee things. But then BSA isn't getting the same caliber Board Member they used to get. The "gay and athiest" stance hurt but then BSA couldn't sfford the membership loss they would have incurred by angering a few large conservative groups. It would've made things look even worse. But then when you try to appease one small faction, you lose any wider appeal you once had. Sound familiar?

Rolling Stone had a great article in 2000 on the dichotomy within BSA - the divisions between the volunteers that TRY to run a real Scouting program and the paid professionals running Boy Scouts. But it's a story nobody wants to touch - Boy Scouts are like Mom and Apple pie. A few papers picked up on this all during last year's scandals but - as always - the larger issue was dropped. You can't question Boy Scouts. A recurring pattern of illegal actions and misrepresenttion is always the work of "an individual" - who made the mistake of getting caught.

Even the child abuse scandal a while back - as bad as the Catholic Church but stonewalled far better - died off since nobody wants to believe their kid can get abused in Scouts. This is mentioned later.

Boy Scouts is chartered by the US Congress - giving it a monoploy of sorts. They enforce it vigorously - not even wanting Girl Scouts to use the "Scout" name. But then if they HAD competition, I expect BSA Inc. would have died a while ago. people stay becaust they DON'T have an alternative organization that's close to "Scouting."

The paid executives running BSA have made a mess of things. Boy Scouts is losing members because its lost its soul. There's more at work here than changing times and competition from other activities. Membership continues to decline. In reality there are probably half the number of kids ACTIVE in Scouting out of what BSA claims.

Compare annual reports of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. GSA is clear and lists statistics and financials clearly. Not so Boy Scouts. They talk about "success" but show little in the way of specifics. There's lots of rhetoric and little reality.

BSA paid staff have become more and more autocratic and focused on "statistics" to show "Success" - numbers and money - they don't seem to care much about boys or Scouting. SIgn up all the kids you can - BSA doesn't care if you never see them after the first meeting. 

Numbers" are all that count.
Narrowing Membership

Boy Scouts is no longer the all inclusive group it once was - though it never was well represented in minority groups. Funny how BSA leterature shows a wide range of faces and colors - far wider than you're likely to see at a Scouting event. They're better at PR now. Reality is different. Still, Scouts used to be the ONE organization that in most schools had a full range of kids - the smart ones, the jocks, the skaters, even a few heads..... all were welcome. 

BSA is becoming more and more "conservative" and pushing out the more "liberal" in its ranks. It is drawing more and more "extreme" members as a result - people willing to "take orders" and do as they're told. There's a defensive mentality where it's the BSA way or you're an "enemy" and treated as such - sound familiar? 

Certain churches like the Unitarians have fallen out of favor with BSA - while other denominations have deliberately cut their ties. You won't find a Reform Jewish sponsored unit here anymore. The "gay and athiest" stand is part of it but it goes deeper. The "character" of the organization has changed. The lack of toleration for any dissent is clear in various forums used by Scout volunteers to discuss issues of concern. 

Punishing Whistleblowers and Dissidents

These issues are NOT visible to most volunteers in Scouting. Most of the adults that help out in Cub Scouts never see ANYTHING beyond their local Pack. Even those involved in Boy Scouting don't have much contact with "Council" or above. BSA likes it that way. 

They don't want informed and involved volunteers. They want compliant fund-raisers. Perhaps one in ten volunteers have any real contact with Scout personnel outside their own unit or other volunteers. But thse at the core of Scouting are seeing major changes. Those in Scouting as boys have seen the camps and facilities they knew sold off - hurting thier program. They get little support from paid staff but endless pressure to raise money.

The volunteers that ask questions quickly find themselves labeled "troublemakers." Why was that camp sold for half the estimate to a neighbor of the Scout Executive? If numbers are going up shouldn't we be ADDING facilities? What ARE the real membership numbers?  They don't like questions. And when you stand up and say "this is wrong" - watch out. If you think it's wrong to sell off the summer camp you spent so much time at, be careful what you say. If you notice that they're still counting units that died a few years ago on their rosters, or you have kids listed in your unit that you've never seen, best be quiet. That "trustworthy and honest" thing - it's all image.

Volunteers upset with what they see and trying to change things are told to shut up and threatened. Many are leaving. Many remain focused only locally - they help theirTroop and try to pretend all is well and good. Funny how there are so many Eagle Scouts now - even though total numbers in Boy Scouts have declined so much. Yeah, it looks good for college and some troops ARE "Eagle Mills." But who cares? Not BSA. 
Paid staff have actually thrown volunteers out of BSA for raising questions about enrollment fraud and finances. One long serving Scoutmaster was thrown out for asking why his small council was spending $500,000 on unneeded new offices instead of on boys.

This case is NOT unique. Procedures drawn up to deal with pedophiles and felons are misused to remove dedicated volunteers. Lots of luch appealing your removal. BSA could care less. GO ahead take them to court. So far nobody has had the time or tens of thousands of dollars to waste (though that may be changing). 

Property Sales

Camps for boys are sold off to fund excessive salaries and meet financial goals. Lots of money is parked in "endowment funds" - BSA National is sitting on $500 million in liquid assets. There's more in local Council accounts, not to mention all the property BSA still owns. Funny how when property donated to Boy Scouts is no longer used, it isn't returned to the donor as originally specified in bequests. Some way is found to sell it off and keep the proceeds. volunteers here have protested this sale and fought it in the courts. The original will specified that the proceeds be used to purchase a REPLACEMENT facility. The donor's name is being stuck on an EXISTING facility instead. The Coulcil is losing facilities, NOT adding to them as the donor wished. - volunteers here have voted AGAINST this sale and have fought to replace their Council leadership finally taking the fight to court.

On Paid Staff
There is an unending push for volunteers to sign up more boys and raise money - yet little direct support is provided by paid staff for the Scouting Program volunteers are trying to run. Baden Powell expressed strong reservations about having ANY paid staff in Scouting. It seems his worries were correct. Whistleblowers are punished. Anyone - paid or volunteer - that points out fraudulent claims or fights against unnecessary sales of property will be punished. All so a few executives can live the good life. 


Low level employees of BSA are ill paid and overworked BUT local "Scout Executives" are well compensated (far more that Girl Scout counterparts even when overseeing less kids) and BSA National is packed with highly paid staffers whose function remains mysteriously unknown and unexplained.

Roy Williams - the head of BSA had a total compensation package of over $900,000 in 2003. From 990 filings in Guidestar. Half of this was deferred compenstion not shown on one 990 filing but revealed on another. The issue of excessive CEO compensation has been raised in the no-profit world. Williams has one of the highest compensation packages in the non-profit sector. Yet membership in Scouting has been declining under William's leadership.
Local Council Scout Executives are VERY well paid compared to other comparable non-profit positions.

Enrollment Fraud
Executives are overpaid yet failing at their jobs. Membership has been declining for years - and misrepresented widely - indeed fraudulently. Membership fraud (misstating the number of boys enrolled) has been a long term and worsening problem in BSA - tolerated as long as you're not caught.  Even the way members are counted deliberately overstates counts - focused on a calendar year and not school year schedule. "Year end" numbers are 15-20% higher than actual active membership at any point in a year. Keep inmind that membership numbers are touted in fund-raising efforts. Using inflated numbers to raise money is fraud. There have been a number of investigations over the years in various places on this issue - but all seem to "disappear" over time. BSA does NOT allow independent outside audits of its membership claims. Even when conducting its own, there are often 30% "discrepancies" - as shown later.

Desperate to show improvement in membership numbers and facing pressure from "National", local Councils have been fraudulently boosting their claimed membership counts - and using those counts to solicit charitable funding. The Scout Executive in Greater Alabama - Ronnie Holmes was caught inflating numbers there after being caught doing the same in 2000 in Dallas. He remains in HIS position - paid well over $200,000 a year in an area where median salaries are under $40,000. The whistle-blower whose claims of overstatement were proven in an audit was thrown out of Scoutig the day his claims were proven true. He has taken BSA to court. BSA tried to claim that the numerous "John Smiths" living at the same address as the new multi-million dollar Council Headquarters were so listed to protect their privacy.
Other Councils involved in membership scandals are in Florida
and Atlanta where a program for "Disadvantaged Youth" was shown to be a sham. Just over 3000 active members were found - instead of the variously claimed 21,000, 15,000 or 10,000. Some still believe the real count is less than 1000. The Scout Executive there quit when the issue became public. Lower level Scout Leaders there are trying to resolve the issue though the Cuncil leadership has been less than open about the issue. Of note, new multi-million dollar Council offices were just built in Atlanta - by a contractor on the local Board.
Low level paid staffers face huge pressure to increase membership numbers

Contrived Politically Funded Programs

BSA hypcritically uses a program called "Learning for Life" to collect funds it CANNOT receive because of its discriminatory stance towards gays and athiests. This program receives government grants to fund this program which has BSA employees running programs in schools for children. Often this is just a simple crafts program for special needs kids. HOWEVER, it is NOT Scouting. It is nothing like Scouting. This program is a pokitically contrived one, filling a "need" that would not exist if directed funding was not provided for it. There are more kids in this program than in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. It is the ONLY area BSA can claim "growth." Frankly, it is just like any other failing company that runs to government and uses government funding to bail it out.

A "Democracy? - Who runs Boy Scouts?

In theory BSA s run by its volunteers but in truth they have no real say. The paid staff that is supposed to SERVE and SUPPORT the volunteers in Scouting in effect dictate to the volunteers.

Volunteers do the yeoman work in Scouting. They run Troops and Packs, they run events. They run training for new leaders. They fill most positions in a Council and fill many posts in camps. There's a recurring saying that the ONLY time you see a paid staffer is when they show up to ask for money. And in truth, that reflects an endless circle. Paid staff focus much of their time on raising money to pay THEIR salaries, NOT to support Scouting. In a typical Council, "camping and activity" fees cover the "camping and activity" costs. An analysis of Council 990's shows that salaries are the largest expense for most.

BSA is structured as a series of "independent franchises" - local corporations that oversee BSA in a geographic area. They are all tied to BSA National in Irving Texas. In theory, all local Councils are overseen by an Executive Board by "representatives" of the local volunteers. In truth, the "representatives" and Board candidates are hand picked - the "election" is like Communist Bulgaria - vote yes or no for the hand-picked slate. In reality, the paid Scout Executive who is supposed to be an employee of the volnteers acts as he wants. In Chicago Area Council, volunteers voted the candidates down TWICE and had to take their own Council to court to get "elections" that gave them real input and control. Volunteers have attempted to have a direct say in some councils - they are rarely successful in this contrived system. BSA does NOT allow its volunteers a direct ans real say in how things are run - despite claims of being a "representtive democracy."  The structure is complex and deliberately obscure but it allows a few groups chartering units (sponsoring Troops) to have a disproportionate influence. LDS (the Mormon Church) has had an increasingly large presence in BSA even as other churches withdraw their support over "discrimination" and other issues. 

Protecting Boys

Interestingly, the Mormon Church uses BSA as their "official" youth program for boys. Yet the leaders there often do not receive the same training as other BSA leaders. This issue has been raised in Scouting circles - as many of the "accidents" that have led to injury and death occur in LDS units.

The National Jamboree Disaster
This was NOT fully covered by the media and well spun by BSA with tons of "Local Scout has great time at Jamboree." BUT the truth is that this was a mess and never should have happened. The blame goes to BSA and the White House.
some senior Scouters have screamed about this mess within BSA circles but it seems like no changes resulted, nobody was held responsible.

Child abuse cover-ups

A topic NOBODY wants to talk about and one that terrifies Scout volunteers. A problem kid knows he can screw an adult by flasely accusing an adult. At the same time there are too many real cases in BSA. Boy Scouts had made some effort to deal with this but has been less than successful in doing so. They have "procedures" and "policies" but it still happens.

It took BSA TOO long to address this issue. BSA failed to report THOUSANDS of abuse cases in the 1980's and 1990's - detailed in Patrick Boyle's 1994 book "Scout's Honor." It's a drity little secret BSA doesn't want to talk about. Changes were made and "youth protection" guidelines adopted but the issue remains. Since BSA does NOT release statistics on this a real analysis is not possible but a Google of "Boy Scout abuse" returns far more hits than "Boys and Girls Clubs abuse" or any other youth group. Court cases are invariably sealed and BSA has been helped by law enforcement authorities not wanting to "slur" Scouting by bentioning such affiliations in abuse cases. There are more than enough cases where the abuser is thrown out of Scoting when caught but other cases are NOT handled correctly.

A scandal in Grand Teton Council in Idaho shows just how this occurs and how BSA STILL ignores and hides such scandals. The "Scout Executive" (CEO of the local corporate presence of BSA there) remains in a job that pays 2 -3 time sthe local median salary DESPITE failing to report two separate incidents of abuse to authorities. The statute of limitations had conveniently expired when the issue was investigated.
The Post-Register in Idaho Falls did a long series on this but it's now behind a paid subscriber wall. One of the abusers was re-arrested after violating parole. He remained employed as a camp counselor despite numerous reports that he had abused boys. Years passed and abuse continued even though ths was reported to BSA regional and National. The "good guys" in Scouting that finally did the right thing are all out of BSA. The ones that covered it all up remain employed and many were promoted (as detailed in the Post-Register series "Scout's Honor." The paper caught hell for breaking the story from local powers and the reporter who broke the story outed as being gay (not a good thing in Idaho) - he gave up and quit. There are still cases in court - a long and questionable history of sealed cases and parents not told about abuse seems to be continuing.

The following statement somehow mysteriously disappeared off the Council website when it came out that BSA had utterly failed to deal with the problem and ignored reports at ALL Levels local through National - this came out ONLY when sealed court case papers were opened. It remains buried on their site but is not linked anywhere. I expect it will disappear shortly after someone finally notices.
It turns out that at least 4 pedophiles had been active in this Council over the past 20 years.
The West Scandal in Spokane brought up theis issue perpherally
There are far more cases than could be listed here.

Even when the executive in BSA National responsible for "Youth Protection" was arrested for distributing child porn, BSA stonewalled behind a legally contrived statement. They - as always - refused to answer any questions. This is the same strategy they took with 60 minutes and all others during the national abuse scandal. They actually let Sovreign Smith retire (with benefits). BSA was less than honest about his contact with boys and somehow overlooked that he had taken an annual week long sailing trip out of the Miami High Adventure Sea base with one other adult and a half dozen boys. (the story reporting that is no longer on the web and the person in BSA reporting THAT was fired from BSA).

Ironically, Smith - guilty of distributing child porn - had FIRED a well respected paid professional with decades of service when it was reported that person had gone to a gay resort. Smith was an ardent defender of BSA's anti-gay policies (a statement by him was hurriedly removed from BSA's web site after his arrest).

BSA has made efforts to deal with this issue. There are guidelines and training but the problem continues to arise because, frankly, there are not enough parents that WANT to go hiking and camping. Too many are willing to trust others with their kids and happy to let some "outsider" run a Troop fpr them. This has been the issue with a number of abuse cases. BSA goes to great lengths to confuse and distory the whole pedophile/homosexual issue. BSA CLAIMS to "protect" boys by keeping out avowed homosexuals but seems to have regular issues with pedophiles.

In the larger focus of things, this is one few notice but it is typical of the ethical and moral failures run rampant now. People espouse "Character" and values while behaving abysmally. They use well intentioned underlings for their own purposes. 

It'd be disappointing enough for any group but this is an ogranization that so blatantly wraps itself in the flag and proclaims "American values" and touts "character". But I suppose the same can be said of so many so-called churches as well. Too bad. I though Boy Scouts really did mean something. It does but not what you think.

I realize this is a narrow-interest area but this forum gives it some visibility.

Truth is that BSA gets slammed over "membership criteria" but the Senate STILL votes it special treatment and legal exemptions while NEVER looking behind the facade. BSA Inc. has one sweet racket going.

And instead of fighting to change BSA and keep it what it was, the "liberals" and "Progressives" in BSA shut up or walked away and conceeded the ground to a bunch of posturing hypocrites.

If you know of anything more, add it below. If nothing else, it adds to the public record and sheds a bit more light on it all.




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