Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Man Sues Congressional Youth Leadership Council Over Inauguration Scam

This looks like it promises to be the first of many lawsuits against this dubious outfit.
A New York lawyer has filed a lawsuit saying a group that arranged for thousands of young people to attend President Barack Obama's inauguration ruined the trip for the attorney's 12-year-old daughter.

Fabio Bertoni says he paid the Vienna, Va.-based Congressional Youth Leadership Council more than $2,500 so his daughter could witness the event in Washington.

Bertoni says the for-profit group made false promises that students would attend the inauguration and related events and meet high-profile public figures.

He says his daughter watched the festivities on TV and met no officials.
As I'd never heard of this group, a search turns up thousands of results related to the word scam. Sure sounds like a lot of people were ripped off.
Other shortcomings of the UPIC include the Inauguration Ceremony itself. The tickets for the event were bogus, with one delegate attributing them to "fireplace mantle or coffee table placeholders." No transportation or reserved seating was provided to the delegates, forcing many to wake up at 1 A.M. to either walk from their hotels to the mall area or take the already-overcrowded Metro Rail at 4 A.M. Transportation in the form of private charter buses was provided for some events, but not the inauguration. For the Inauguration Ceremony Concert, buses were provided to transport the delegates to the event, but not back to their hotels. Some delegates, specifically those who were non-D.C. residents from outside the city, and outside the country, found themselves lost within an unfamiliar place already flushed with thousands, if not millions of people. There were also complaints of a lack of leadership and lack of organization. Paid volunteering personnel working for the UPIC had little information on upcoming activities and were not connected to each other via radios. The private emergency number provided to delegates was also unreliable in its listing of event information, and failed to recontact delegates seeking information on such things as transportation and emergency services.

While the UPIC granted the opportunity to hear keynote speakers such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Vice President Al Gore, some delegates have speculated that the CYLC deliberately overcharged them to make a profit. Considering that 15,300 delegates attended the conference for an average of $3,000 each, the CYLC then made a profit of almost $47,000,000 on this conference alone. Legal action has been threatened against the UPIC and CYLC, parents and delegates are demanding refunds and answers from the company, and delegates have gone as far as to sign petitions, contact local and national media stations, and even write letters to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (who has been listed as a contributor to the UPIC).

Because of the questionable actions, misrepresentation, and conduct of the UPIC, Senators Frank Lautenberg and Representative Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson of New Jersey asked that they be removed from the list of honorary members of the CYLC. According to his spokesman, Congressman Pascrell resigned his positioned on the CYLC's advisory board, and Senator Lautenberg asked his name to be removed from membership of the advisory board was well, with Lautenberg's spokesman commenting that "The group at some point converted itself to a for-profit organization, and the senator is seriously concerned about complaints from New Jersey families regarding this group’s inauguration program."
Shocking that the oily Frank Lautenberg and Joe Biden would have links to this group, isn't it?

Meanwhile, they still promote themselves as non-profit.


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