'Red flags': Nonprofit raising funds for Jan. 6 Capitol rioters slammed by legal experts
Pro-Trump protesters seen inside Capitol building as they enter in through broken windows. (lev radin / Shutterstock.com)

NPR on Thursday reported on the efforts of Cynthia Hughes to raise money that is purported to go to defendants who have been charged over their alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"There are many online fundraisers for Capitol riot defendants, which have collectively raised millions from the small, but notable minority of Americans sympathetic to the Capitol riot defendants. Most fundraisers go directly to individual defendants," NPR reported. "Patriot Freedom Fund, by contrast, is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, and describes itself as a kind of central hub - soliciting donations from the public to then provide services to families, including cash grants, gifts, and legal aid. And they have asked for big donations.

NPR reported charity experts see "red flags" in how the new group operates.

"Among the experts' concerns: the composition of the group's board of trustees. The board is tasked with approving budgets, making sure the organization follows laws and regulations, and setting any compensation for employees. According to public records, the three named trustees are Hughes herself, Hughes' sister-in-law, and Hughes' 24-year-old son, who shares an address with his mother," NPR reported.

Hughes is a red flag herself.

READ: 'To save America': Jan. 6 rioters networked in advance, planned to storm the Capitol and fantasized about hanging lawmakers for 'treason'

"Over the last decade, NPR found, Hughes has filed multiple lawsuits, in which she represented herself, and publicly disclosed serious personal financial problems. In both 2013 and 2018, for example, Hughes sued credit rating agencies, seeking thousands of dollars in damages and changes to her credit rating. Hughes stated in court documents that she had struggled with late payments, poor credit scores, and the ripple effects of filing for bankruptcy in the 2000s," NPR reported. "Another potential warning sign: The Patriot Freedom Project also has yet to file the required paperwork registering as a charity in its home state of New Jersey, according to authorities there."

Family members of defendants are also voicing concerns.

"A few of us have asked for transparency and got NO WHERE," said one family member.

Molly, a cousin of defendant Kyle Fitzsimons, said that the Patriot Freedom Fund is getting in the way of the direct fundraisers used by defendants.

READ: Trump held 'secret meetings' before Jan. 6 in White House residence: ex-press secretary

"People deserve to know where their money is going," Molly said. "It is really getting in the way of funding the individual's fund raisers. It is not the best way to donate."

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