EDITOR’S NOTE: The documents, emails and other information quoted in this article were used without alteration or editing for content or spelling. Additionally, the material was provided by an anonymous source using a secure and untraceable transfer method.
By Jerry Jordan — CHARLOTTE – While the NASCAR community awaits a decision this week from a Kent County (Del.) Family Court on whether self-proclaimed pocket commando, Patricia Driscoll, needs a protective order against her ex-boyfriend and NASCAR driver, Kurt Busch, sources continue to leak information, emails and other documents about her life inside the Washington D.C. beltway.
One of those emails gives a glimpse of how ruthless Driscoll can be in her efforts to boost support for the Armed Forces Foundation by gathering negative data on competing military-related charities, like the USO. Although the emails are from 2011, this one shows a pattern by Driscoll to have her staff collect anything that would paint the USO in a negative light.
“Need every bad article about the USO in the past few years plus charity watch dog sites,” Driscoll wrote to one of her staffers on Nov. 5, 2011. The two exchanged emails over the course of the next week with the staff member writing back and asking for clarity, “What bad article exactly (sp)? By when and do you just need their overview from charity watchdog sites?”
When she didn’t respond, he sent another email asking, “What am I suppose to find? James did an analysis last year, do we want that again?”
Driscoll responded, “I thought I was pretty clear. I want news articles, philanthropy website remarks, and anything else that paints the USO in a bad light. I want it done by Tues of next week.”
Those emails came a week after Driscoll showed her anger about NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski and his efforts to support the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) at Talladega. One of Driscoll’s staff members sent her an email asking about obtaining swag from drivers and to, “see if there is anyway we can do like a facebook mobile upload of the group or something on NASCARs facebook page about the troops to the track.(sp)” There was also a photo attachment showing Keselowski’s interaction with the PVA, stating, “This is one of bad brads ride to recovery guests in dega.”
Just 27-minutes later, Driscoll fired back, “Fuck Brad. He is very upset at the attention Kurt has been getting and what we are doing. He uses these guys like a prop. I’ll discuss more in person. This is more of a reason we need to make sure we are glued to Nascar (sp?). We need to come up with an end of the year thank you plaque or gift for all of those involved and a care package.”
Emails also show Driscoll was questioned about how she spends the charity’s money, accounts for volunteer hours and allows her son to fly around the country on the AFF’s dime – sometimes travelling first class. As recently as mid-2012, the accountant handling the books for the Armed Forces Foundation, expressed concerns to AFF board secretary, Hugh Webster, in an email that pointed out possible violations of IRS regulations and federal child labor laws.
“Hugh – The amount of volunteer hours a 7 year old does in a day is quite questionable to be taking the airfare that runs into thousands of dollars,” wrote Carole Wiedorfer, accountant for the Armed Forces Foundation. “Since we are so late into filing 2011, I will allow that as an office and administration expense. But I will not agree with this for 2012 until we get more documentation as to Houston’s exact hours and jobs at each event. We can discuss this more later. I am under the gun to file this tax return on time and still do not even have all the info.”
Wiedorfer also shared her concerns with Driscoll and caution her about tax laws regarding the charity paying for her son’s travel.
“Given that, there is no hard and fast rule on how much a volunteer has to “volunteer” in order for travel expenses to be taken,” Wiedorfer wrote. “If you took an adult with you and paid the airfare and could substantiate a full days worth of volunteering for each day at the event, then there is probably no issue with deducting travel expenses for that volunteer if the IRS or the public comes looking. But the appearance of a 7 year old who is your son, is sometimes flying first class and then saying he is volunteering would not sit with anyone. You have the issue of his being your dependent that causes the disallowance first and foremost. The IRS rule is clear on deducting travel for spouses and dependents. You will not be able to convince anyone he volunteers for 8 hours a day at these events. And I have counted about 10 or more trips for him from Sept 2011 through July 2012. Child labor laws alone would get you for that if he actually volunteered that many hours for that many trips. This is not a case you want to take to Tax Court and attempt to win.”
Driscoll defended her actions to members of the AFF board of directors, claiming concerns about the books were coming from an accountant, who was “best friends” with her ex-husband, and that she frequently travels on Busch’s private jet. She also stated in the email chain, that upon her divorce, the board of directors approved travel for her son.
“As I disclosed to you last night that Carole is best friends with my ex-husband, I feel like his hostility towards me is now being taken out on the AFF through her,” Driscoll wrote to board members, Tris Barry and Webster. “I am very embarrassed. My ex is still causing me a lot of issues even after the extensive and costly legal battle last year. Her obvious target here is me although what she is saying here has MAJOR implications on the foundation and its employees and volunteers. If she is claiming that a volunteer or employee’s spouse or significant other has to work at least 8 hours a day to have their travel expenses reimbursed this is a HUGE issue. Does this mean that we now have to issue everyone W-2’s fi (sp?) they didn’t work a full 8 hours? Most of our events aren’t that long. As far as my son flying 1st class—WE’VE NEVER booked a 1st class ticket for anyone unless: 1- It’s the only seat left available on a flight we have to get on to get to an event (VERY RARE) 2- It’s a coast to coast trip where someone is taking a red eye to come back. (We’ve done this a couple of times with events in LA or PHX or a distance that far- when we’ve come in that morning, attended the event, and left on the red eye to return home) We avoid hotel costs, additional rental car costs, food costs, and get people back to work by not losing a whole day for travel. We allow the 1st class seat in this case so they can get a few hours of sleep before returning to work. 3- Many of us have travel miles and get upgraded because we travel so much— this happens A LOT!
“Many times my travel expenses are covered by my boyfriend—flying on his plane, using his rental car, staying on his motor home, and eating the groceries he bought.”
Spreadsheets from 2006 through 2012 detailed the number of hours Driscoll and others worked or volunteered time for the AFF. In those documents, Driscoll accounts for her time at $252 an hour. Busch’s time was valued at $125 an hour, according to the documents, and he volunteered 60 hours each year from 2010 through 2012. Records show volunteered 1,620 hours in 2006; 1,720 hours in 2007; 960 hours in 2008; 1,040 hours in 2009; 1,040 hours in 2010; 1,300 hours in 2011 and 1,300 hours in 2012.
Another email chain obtained by Kickin’ the Tires, was also mentioned in court testimony by Busch’s executive assistant, Kristy Cloutier, who said it verified that Driscoll was disparaging her behind her back. In addition to remarks akin to something out of the teen flick ‘Mean Girls,’ the email dealt with a lack of paperwork from the AFF showing in-kind contributions for the use of Busch’s jet.
“I overheard Kristy bitching at Kurt yesterday about not getting any kind of tax letter from AFF for all of the airplane usage,” Driscoll wrote, in March 2012. “I know that Tanya calculated it and put it in our inkind contribution so please send the bitch what she is looking for and maybe on a monthly basis we can send her a letter so that we keep her happy. FYI—She got dumped by the only person she’s really dated in the last ten years (even though they have only gone out for a month or so) so now she is EXTRA bitchy and has more of a reason to hate me and anyone in a happy relationship.”
Neither Webster nor Wiedorfer responded requests for comment sent via email by Kickin’ the Tires about tax issues or any potential negative publicity foisted upon the Armed Forces Foundation as a result of Driscoll’s actions.
UPDATE: After making her objections to the article known via text and email and stating repeatedly she and her attorney needed the physical address of Kickin’ the Tires because, “we need to mail you something that can’t go to a PO box and must be signed for,” Driscoll decided to refute what she said was inaccurate or taken out of context. Her statement, which claims the emails are from disgruntled former employees trying to assist her ex-husband in a custody battle, is contained below (unedited), along with a statement she purports to be from Armed Forces Foundation board member, Hugh Webster.
“Some of the former disgruntled employees and contractors that contributed to this story were involved in trying to help my ex-husband in the custody battle he initiated in 2011 and again in his current and ongoing quest of 2014. One of them was also related to Mr Hermanstorfer and the other was a former room mate. Some of these same people were also listed as potential witnesses by Rusty Hardin in court. It’s a shame that their comments were given any weight instead of being seen for what they are as an obvious attempt to further my ex-husband & Mr Busch’s positions.”
Hugh Webster’s response:
“The recent article concerning the Armed Forces Foundation presents false accusations against AFF and its President Patricia Driscoll. The reason is obvious: the article relies on stolen private emails that have been selectively edited, or taken out of context, or both. For example, AFF’s interest in negative publicity concerning the USO was not to further disparage that organization but to avoid repeating its same missteps. It is the practice of AFF to be familiar with how all of the major military charities raise funds and spend money. Understanding these methods and how these various organizations have been critiqued for their actions, especially negatively, helps us weigh the cost vs. benefit of using those same methods. Any charity that does not follow how others in the same space are treated in the media needlessly runs the risk of committing the same mistakes.
Regarding expenditures by Ms. Driscoll, the questions raised by AFF’s former accountant were thoroughly investigated by the AFF Finance Committee and legal counsel and found to be without merit. Whoever gave you the emails from this accountant conveniently neglected to include that part of the matter. AFF follows strict guidelines for spending approved by the board of directors, audited each year by an independent auditor, and monitored by the Finance Committee. In the future you should exercise caution in blindly publishing what is provided to you by disgruntled former AFF employees. You may also wish to inquire of them why they are so intent on smearing Ms Driscoll and the Foundation, such as having been fired for ineptitude or committing gross misconduct.”