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Clay Aiken's Nonprofit Group Comes Under Critic Scrutiny

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Clay Aiken - Bubel/Aiken Foundation
RALEIGH, N.C. — Critics are raising questions about how American Idol runner-up and Raleigh native Clay Aiken's nonprofit group is spending its donations.

They are focusing on a document from the Internal Revenue Service that details expenses for the

Bubel/Aiken Foundation

, which organizes specialized camps for children with disabilities and doles out grants to other groups.

When the tax documents surfaced, critics mounted an Internet campaign questioning how the foundation spends its money. They complain that, while expenses totaled more than $1 million in 2004, less than one-third was distributed in grants.

Travel, conference and convention line items totaled more than $300,000, which helped cover high profile galas in Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Kansas City.

Co-Founder Diane Bubel told WRAL that critics are entitled to their opinions, but that she is frustrated by misinformation.

"We're volunteering and doing something good, and all we hear is complaining," Bubel said.

She says the raw numbers can be misleading because they do not detail the costs of organizing, training, and travel for the camp in Raleigh and in Missouri.

While not real moneymakers, the galas helped showcase the foundation using Aiken's popularity.

WRAL asked an independent accountant to break down the numbers, who pointed out that program services totaled $920,000 -- around 85 cents on every dollar donated -- which is considered a solid percentage compared to other charities.

Bubel concedes the foundation ran up higher promotion, travel, and legal expenses to establish itself nationally. She believes efficiency will improve over time.

"We have nothing to hide," Bubel told WRAL. "I'm proud of what we've done."

A spokesman for Clay Aiken told WRAL that he was too busy to comment.

Officials say that it is always a good precaution to check out a charitable organization's record; the

Secretary of State's Web site

is a good source.


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