A Camp Springs-based group called the Missing Children's Network has been denied permission to solicit funds in Maryland as a charitable organization because of "discrepancies" in its financial records and because the group could not supply information on how funds were being spent, according to state officials.
The group, which is run by evangelist Michael O'Donnell, has collected at least $25,000 in donations from containers placed at store checkout counters, state officials said.
The office of the Maryland secretary of state rejected the group's application for status as a nonprofit charity, saying it had found "discrepancies concerning salaries and expenses" in the organization's financial records.
The group's application said its activities include the distribution of posters of missing children and publication of a newspaper that is distributed free in stores. It reported that it operates a free hot line for information on missing children.
O'Donnell could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Connie Schenker, a volunteer in the Missing Children's Network office, said donations are no longer being solicited. She said, however, that the group plans to continue its volunteer work.
"We try to comply with whatever the state asks us to do," said Schenker. "The funding is difficult, but we were never in it for the money to begin with."
Schenker said she believed that O'Donnell was not receiving a salary for his work in the organization.