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Imus charity questioned
WSJ: Cost of bringing sick children to ranch run by radio talk show host getting a look.
March 24, 2005: 8:10 AM EST
Talk show host Don Imus blasted The Wall Street Journal for a story questioning the costs incurred by his Imus Ranch charity.
Talk show host Don Imus blasted The Wall Street Journal for a story questioning the costs incurred by his Imus Ranch charity.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Radio host Don Imus is facing criticism from the Wall Street Journal Thursday for the costs incurred by his charity that brings sick children to his ranch for visits.

The paper, quoting the filings of Imus' charity, reports that it spent $2.6 million in 2003 and $2.7 million in 2002 to bring 100 children to the ranch each year. That works out to just under $3,000 per night per child, which the paper reports is far more than spent by other charities.

It said that Camp Starfish, another well-known charity for children, hosts over 150 kids a summer on a budget of $360,000 a year, while actor Paul Newman's charity, The Hole in the Wall Gang Fund, has a budget that's more than twice as large as the Imus Ranch but hosts 10 times as many kids at its summer camp.

The paper also said the charity is supposed to account for or be compensated for the personal use of the ranch by Imus and his wife, but hasn't done so.

On his radio show Thursday, Imus attacked the story as a hatchet job. He said that he and his wife work for the charity, both raising money and doing chores during the children's stay at the ranch, all without compensation.

"Why don't you do a survey about other foundations this size and see what they pay their chief executives? Most charities spend 50 cents to raise a dollar," he said. He also called "insane" the notion that he uses the ranch for private use, saying that when he takes vacations he goes elsewhere than the ranch.

"I've got a penthouse apartment in New York and a mansion in Westport (Conn.). Why would I go someplace that I can't breathe," said Imus, referring to medications he takes to help with breathing while he's at the ranch.

He also says that about $800,000 of the reported annual expenses for the ranch are for depreciation, and that the charity does not raise money to cover that expense. But he said that it is expensive to provide the facility for children because the cost of the running the ranch year round.

"Am I spending too much money per child? If you believe that, don't give money to the ranch," he said.

The Journal said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer inquired about the charity earlier this year, but that the review isn't an investigation, according to sources in Spitzer's office, and was prompted by the ranch's delayed filing of its financial statements.

Imus said Thursday that Spitzer's office wasn't aware that he had been granted an extension for the filing. He pointed out that he has endorsed Spitzer's run for New York governor and that he did so before he was contacted by Spitzer's office.

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