Trooper group's fundraising generates complaints

Thursday, September 14th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A Florida-based state trooper organization says it is doing nothing wrong when it solicits donations from Oklahomans, but the group's efforts are prompting complaints to the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.

The group, the American Association of State Troopers, has been investigated before, said Steve Leippert, an assistant attorney in the state attorney general's office. But Leippert said the group apparently broke no laws.

Still, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Chris West said troopers are afraid people may donate to the group believing it is for the families of two recently killed lawmen.

Patrol Lt. Don Stockton said he answered a call from the Florida group Friday evening at his home in Moore.

A woman said money was being raised for troopers' life insurance plans and other programs for troopers nationwide, Stockton said. He said he thought the woman made a reference to "the trooper"

killed in Oklahoma, although no specific name was mentioned.

Trooper Matthew Scott Evans, 24, and Oklahoma City police officer Jeffery Dean Rominger, 42, died in a fiery crash during a high-speed chase on Aug. 31.

"It angered me and I thought it was in extremely poor taste,"

Stockton said. He said he is making a report to the state attorney general's office.

"It is my intention to get these people and have this kind of solicitation stopped," Stockton said.

Angela Ishee, a spokeswoman for the Florida group, said no reference to the trooper was made, and she has audio tapes to prove it.

"Our caller strictly followed the script approved by AAST, and that she in no way implied that we were raising money for the Evans family. The sole purpose of our association is to help improve the lives of troopers," Ishee said.

She said the group has been raising funds in Oklahoma for a couple of years and does not plan its calls around any incidents, such as the death of a law officer.

She said the group provides a scholarship program, life insurance, a retirement gift, legal defense and special benefits for retired members.

Leippert said Oklahomans have complained that they thought the Florida group was affiliated with the Oklahoma State Troopers Association. The two groups are separate.


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