Recently I received 3 emails from a person who was concerned about the Hear The Watchmen conference organizer, Mike Kerr AKA Mike Whitestone, and his past and present use of Veterans, Christians and persons-in-need as a means of fundraising large amounts of money. A more specific question addressed Mike Whitestone’s GoFundMe account, and the application of $24,076 (almost one quarter of his $100,000 goal) in donations.
As I began to look into certain aspects of GoFundMe and their use of WePay as a settlement account, red flags were rising on the potential for hidden fraud with regard to the various methods of withdrawing funds. Readers who have been with me for a while on this blog, know that long ago I had a career in banking at Seattle-First National Bank (now Bank of America) and also at Amarillo National Bank in Texas. During the seventies and eighties I was a Trust Auditing Officer, a Bond Trustee Officer, and later the Trust Officer and Manager over the Trust Operations Department. Thus I am familiar with standard accounting procedures and controls which limit the potential for financial fraud.
Generally in this blog I only delve into the surface facts which are publicly known about the subject which I am analyzing. I don’t have the resources to do a deep investigative report, so I concentrate my efforts on increasing the level of understanding of my readers in identifying certain telling features of false Christian ministries, which can be spotted by just a cursory review. The purpose of developing critical thinking skills when entering the strange universe of Christian Alternative Media, is to avoid getting ensnared in a Psy-Op, whereby one is fleeced spiritually and monetarily.
Here is a copy of an email which I sent last evening on March 23, 2016 to Mike Whitestone through his GoFundMe account. I am publishing this post before he has had a fair chance to respond, and should he answer my question, it will be posted on this blog. As shown in this screenshot, I asked Mike, “would you kindly advise me where I can locate an accounting of how you have applied the funds you have received thus far. Sincerely, Jacquelyn Weaver”.
The very first red flag on this GoFundMe account is Mike Kerr’s use of a false name, Mike Whitestone. As some will recall, I transcribed a portion of a John B. Wells interview with Doug Hagmann which included comments on the use of aliases by Mike Kerr. This quote can be found in my February 20, 2016 post entitled, The King of Jousters, John B. Wells and his ARK Knight-errant, Sir Douglas Hagmann Give A Private Exhibition of Their Prowess.
From this interview, Doug Hagmann, who has been a private investigator for some 30 years, has publicly declared that to his knowledge, Brother Mike has only one legal name, which we are then to assume is his given name Mike Kerr. Therefore we are lead to believe that the other aliases which he uses apparently have no legal validity, such as in the situation where someone might create a fictional name under DBA (Doing Business As) state laws. DBA names must be legally registered in order for banks to establish accounts and other financial transaction type vehicles, such as debit cards.
So here we have the curious situation where as of yesterday Mike Kerr was asking for donations under a GoFundMe account in the name of Mike Whitestone. He established this account on September 24, 2015 with a fundraising goal of $100,000, headlining it with The Watchmen Need You. And he displays a photo banner of running horse hoofs, with the words The End-Jesus Wins.
Looking at this account again this morning, I notice that it has been updated with 3 photos from this past weekend’s conference. The photos of the Veteran which had been utilized for fundraising purposes, are gone. I read the following:
“Please join Hear the Watchmen Ministries. Doug and Joe Hagmann and the team at Hear the Watchmen 2016 provide one of the most important and timely Christian gatherings in America. All events will include important information on how to prepare both physically and spiritually for the times ahead. This is not about money and there is no profit motive. We simply need your help to cover COSTS of this Ministry.”
” Hear the Watchmen 2016 will begin its journey in Dallas Texas during March of 2016 and will continue across America stopping in as many cities and towns as long as The Lord provides. We are already planning stops in Los Angeles, Knoxville, Orlando and other cities across America. Help us bring the Lord’s message of hope to his children as the End Times rapidly takes shape. Help us teach Christians what to do and how to prepare for the times ahead by helping us bring a movement of Worship, Revival, Restoration and Hope to as many cities across the United States as possible. By donating you will be helping us begin the Renaissance of Revival and help bring the Word of God back into the heart of America.”
“We hope you can attend but PLEASE give what you can by donating securely on this page and help us help the Lord provide for his children. A dollar, five dollars or a hundred dollars it all helps bring Christ’s Family together again. Be a part of the most important movement of our times.“
Above these words are three new photos of the conference which had just been held in Dallas, showing people at an altar call and also getting baptized. One photo is of Joe Hagmann being baptized, apparently as a result of his rededication to the Lord. This is a common practice among Charismatic groups, which allows them to boast of the number of baptisms which they have performed, when in fact they are not referencing first time baptisms of new Christians, but are including persons who are being re-baptized.
I am a Baptist, and years ago we used to call this Charismatic practice, “being retreaded”, as if you were to take an old tire and retread the outside. I understand that in history there were persons who had left the Roman Catholic Church, after recognizing it as a whore church, who felt it was necessary to be baptized again because they had been sprinkled as a baby, at a time when they had been unable to have faith in Jesus Christ. However, if your baptism was legitimate the first time, I cannot understand being re-baptized, especially for a feel-good experience, or a photo opportunity. In the Baptist churches which I belonged, there were often “rededications” at revivals; however, all this meant was that the person was publicly proclaiming that they had grown lukewarm and were repenting of that heart attitude. There was never a re-baptism involved, as it would be a mockery of one’s original baptism, which was a precious experience in itself.
Getting back to our discussion of the questionable practice of using a fictitious unregistered name for fundraising purposes, here is an interesting screenshot of a GoFundMe section on the topic of withdrawing funds. Notice that it is necessary for a Social Security Number to be entered when making a disbursement. A fictitious unregistered name does not have a Social Security Number, unless it is illegally obtained. One cannot set up a bank account under a fictitious name unless DBA papers have been acquired. And the instructions warn not to use someone else’s personal information.
To overcome such a situation, we read on WePay that you can make payments directly to the beneficiary, rather than to the account holder. So in the case of the fictitious Mike Whitestone GoFundMe account, just who exactly is the beneficiary? Is it The Hear The Watchmen Conference? Do they have their own tax number and separate checking account? Is it to Mike Kerr or his wife Jeannie, and their personal bank account? We are not given specific information on this, and this is a red flag to any prospective donor.A Social Security Number is a required piece of information for withdrawing funds as these donations are taxable to the recipient, unless funds are dispersed to a bona fide tax-exempt charitable organization. In the past Mike Kerr had displayed a disregard for such legalities, causing issues for his fundraising efforts.
At the beginning of the Hear The Watchmen fundraising, Mike Whitestone claimed that his GoFundMe account was to “raise funds to Baptize and invite as many Veterans in need to hear the Watchmen as possible.” See the bottom line on this screen shot.
But now we see that donations are needed to “help the Lord provide for his children”, whatever that means, and to provide A Renaissance Revival via future Hear The Watchmen Conferences across America.
And more recently, Doug Hagmann has hyped up all the supposed terrorist threats which had been made against the conference speakers this past weekend, which required extra security measures, so they need your money more than ever.
But this all begs the question as to who is personally receiving these funds and how have they been used? Has Hear The Watchman been set up as a tax exempt organization? Are they providing a public accounting of how these funds were used? Are these funds going to the personal account of Mike Kerr, where behind the scenes, he is able to do as he pleases? Christians are to be honest and trustworthy stewards and without the appearance of evil.
The fact is that an implicit fiduciary responsibility was created when this fundraising effort said that donations would be used to benefit Vets who might want to attend the conference. Now we see the purpose of this fundraising changing it’s face so that donations are now being directed for very nebulous purposes of future Hear The Watchmen conferences. And despite the controversy over the aliases of Mike Kerr, this GoFundMe account is still in the fictitious and apparently legally-unregistered name of Mike Whitestone, who as Overseer of these donations, has not offered on this website to provide any accounting of how this money was spent.
Consider this very recent example of a lawsuit which was brought because church donations were not used for the purposes stated. The Seattle PI (Post Intelligencer) published on March 1, 2016, an article written by Joel Connelly entitled, Ex-Members, in suit, charge Mark Driscoll with “pattern of racketeering” at Mars Hill Church. The lawsuit makes use of RICO laws, which has interesting implications for anyone who is not only fundraising in a recognized church, but also should give pause to anyone receiving donations who are acting as if they are a “church” by baptizing, giving sermons and altar calls. And should I remind you that communion services and requests for tithes have been part of the “church” services conducted on the Hagmann Report radio show.
Noting “a pattern of racketeering” and giving us an example of a $2.3 million fundraising effort for an international mission project, in which only $120,000 made it overseas, this article quotes William Throckmorton, one of my favorite investigative writers over at Patheos, as saying, “They want to know where the money went“. Really? Persons who have donated their hard-earned money want to know who benefited from it? Surely more Christians should be rising up and demanding to know how donations were spent in the name of Jesus Christ, whether in a church proper or by Alternative Media fundraisers for Christ.
As Christians, we should remember that the Lord expects a steward to be able to give an account of his stewardship, no matter what the monetary amount is involved. And the Christian is to have standards at least as high as the world’s. For an example of fiduciary accounting, see this Client Trust Accounting Handbook which was made for lawyers who have control over client funds. If you peruse this PDF, you will understand what ethics are involved in handling money for the benefit of another party.
Doug Hagmann claims that he asked Mike Kerr AKA Mike Whitestone if he had oversight over his managing of the funds for the March 2016 Hear The Watchmen conference. If so, why is the GoFundMe page still in a false name? If so, why not provide a public accounting of the receipts and disbursements, so that donors know what it is that they are actually funding?
If you want to ask Mike Whitestone the same question which I asked, here is the link to his account. At the bottom of the page is a line which reads, What is GoFundMe? Click on the envelope picture for the Contact page, and then click on “Contact the Organizer”. As a refresher, you might want to read this article link , “The Man Behind Snowball Express” which was sent to me by the person who was concerned about fraud in connection with Mike Kerr AKA Mike Whitestone.
If and when I get an answer to the question I asked Mike Whitestone yesterday evening, it will be added to this post.