Veterans' Ball Organizer Takes Money, Runs; Where's the Outrage, Media Attention?
The promoter who failed to hold a promised Veterans Inaugural Ball on Tuesday has left behind a trail of angry corporate sponsors and charities who contributed to the event, disappointed performers who were booked for entertainment, and 17 to 25 beauty queens who were told they would be ambassadors for their states at the ball and help raise up to $10 million for veterans’ causes.
Reporter Rick Maze gave a detailed account of promoter Dante Hayes's lies and fabrications:
He disappeared last week, about the time that the performers and beauty queens were expecting to receive final details on their travel and lodging arrangements, and around the same time that the hotel where the ball was supposed to be held pulled the plug when it had not received payment.
Hayes did not respond to telephone calls to three different numbers he had provided to people involved in helping with the inaugural, and he also did not respond to e-mail. Entertainers, the hotel where the ball was going to be held, the people invited to attend and those who bought tickets — which sold for up to $385 for veterans and $500 for nonveterans — said they have not heard from Hayes since they learned there was no ball, no visits with veterans and no money to be turned over to charities.
The story is not unknown among members of the mainstream media at large. Indeed, the Washington Post's gossip column picked up on the first Navy Times story on Hayes in its January 20 edition. Even so, a search on Nexis for Dante Hayes shows no recent stories on broadcast network news programs, nor the AP news wire.
Had such a scam that victimized veterans gone down in January 2005, when President Bush was criticized by many in the media for spending $40 million on inaugural festivities, there's little doubt this story would receive major play on the networks.