In a fund-raising appeal, Stephanie Lawlor makes an emotional plea for contributions to a legal defense fund for her husband, former Hartford cop Robert Lawlor, who was indicted on “trumped-up charges” in the 2005 shooting death of an 18-year-old man. The nonprofit behind the note, the Virginia-based Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, has sent $45,000 to Lawlor and his attorney, with thousands more expected, says the Hartford Courant. To come up with all that cash, executives at the nonprofit are counting on Stephanie Lawlor’s letter to generate vastly more money in donations to cover steep fundraising costs, hefty executive salaries, and other administrative expenses.
Tens of thousands have contributed to the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund after reading letters like Stephanie Lawlor’s. While those donations total millions every year, the fund spends only pennies on the dollar directly assisting officers facing criminal charges, state and federal filings show. Over the past five years, the charity collected more than $13 million, primarily through direct-mail pitches. Most of that money – more than $9 million – went right back to the professional fundraisers hired by the nonprofit legal defense fund. David H. Martin, a Washington lawyer who serves as chairman, collected $156,000 in salary and benefits, while Alfred Regnery, publisher of The American Spectator magazine, received $81,000 for the part-time job of secretary-treasurer. The charity also paid $54,000 into retirement accounts for Martin and Regnery. Martin cited expensive mail solicitations. “It’s hard to raise money through direct mail. Why? Because postage is so expensive,” he said. “It’s just a killer.”