AUSTIN (KXAN) — A mayoral candidate in Lakeway is addressing concerns about a charity his wife used to run out of Round Rock.
Word of a 2017 settlement between the state of Michigan and mayoral candidate Alain Babin’s wife’s nonprofit, Healing American Heroes, has spread in the community.
Babin, a veteran himself and former assistant chief of the Round Rock Police Department, calls the recent attention the settlement has gotten a personal attack aimed at derailing his campaign.
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office at the time said it shut down Babin’s wife, Rosalina’s nonprofit because it violated the Solicitations Act.
The issue stemmed from mailouts sent from a marketing company on behalf of Healing American Heroes asking donors to help pay for phone cards for military members fighting overseas.
“The marketing company was the target,” Babin said. “And they ultimately went out of business.”
Babin’s wife hired the company to help fundraise for the nonprofit. While the marketing materials mostly focused on phone cards, they did also say that money raised may go toward other assistance.
“The Michigan Attorney General took umbrage with the fact that all that money should have been spent on phone cards,” Babin said.
According to the state of Michigan, the charity raised more than $2.6 million through the phone card mailouts in 2015, but only spent a little more than $5,000 of that money on phone cards.
Babin said records submitted to the Michigan AG’s office show how the rest was spent — on marketing and other charity including paying for things like veterans’ electricity, mortgages, groceries and car payments when they were struggling.
“Did the donors know about the other programs? Absolutely.” Babin told KXAN.
In the settlement, the state of Michigan noted the issues were settled without Babin’s wife admitting to any malfeasance. The charity was dissolved, and its remaining funds went to the state of Michigan’s legal fees, the costs of shutting down and other charities that support veterans.
Babin said he volunteered for Healing American Heroes but never served on its board or received any compensation.
“This has denigrated into a personal attack on my wife. It has nothing to do with me or the campaign,” he said. “The fact that they’re attacking my wife to derail my campaign is just, it’s very disappointing to say the least, especially for such a local campaign. It’s just really hard to understand.”
Babin’s opponent in the mayoral race, Tom Kilgore, told KXAN in a statement, “I understand the Michigan Attorney General forced the closure of a charity founded by Mrs. Babin and listed on Mr. Babin’s campaign page. It is disturbing and our community deserves a full explanation. Our city’s support of Corporal Babin’s sacrifice is not diminished in any way.”