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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Fugitive Adam Mayes Dead; Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage; Veterans Group Attributes Strange Statement to Hacker; Backpage.com Refuses to Shut Down Adult Classifieds
Aired May 10, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. We have breaking news tonight. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
The manhunt for Adam Mayes, one of the FBI's 10 most-wanted fugitives and the suspect in a murder/kidnapping case with two little girls' lives hanging in the balance has come to an end, the FBI confirming just a short time ago Mayes is dead after an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The story, as we now know it right now, is that he was found alive, but died either en route to the hospital or at the hospital itself. Word also tonight that the two young girls he is accused of kidnapping are alive and safe at this hour.
Joining me now on the phone, CNN's Martin Savidge, here in the studio CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, and on the phone, Adam Mayes' sister-in-law, Bobbi Booth.
Martin, what do you know?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this all went down in Union County, Mississippi.
In other words, this drama played out right in the same area where it took place, in other words, where the bodies were first discovered of Jo Ann Bain and Adrienne Bain in a shallow grave on property that belonged to Mayes' family.
What we know is that they were members of a Mississippi Highway Patrol special operations, SWAT team, as well as members of the Mississippi Game and Fish. For reasons that are unclear at this particular time, there was a section of a wooded area in that county where they were closing in on today.
And as they began to move in, they say that they heard a single gunshot. And when they came upon the scene, they found that Adam Mayes was laying on the ground with the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. But they found the two girls, ages 8 and 12, alive and well.
That's the most important information. And we have this quote from a federal source on the scene. He says of the girls -- quote -- "They are suffering from the experience of being out in the woods and from being kidnapped. They are suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. But they appear to be OK and they are right now undergoing medical treatment for their conditions."
So you can imagine just what they have been through, Anderson.
COOPER: Do we know, Martin -- and we probably don't -- whether -- are they aware of what happened to their mother and to their sister?
SAVIDGE: Well, we don't know as a result of them being rescued whether they're aware. We do know that, of course, according to statements that were made Teresa Mayes -- this is the wife of Adam Mayes, the man who is suspected of carrying out the attack -- that she witnessed Adam Mayes murdering Jo Ann Bain and Adrienne Bain in the garage of their home back on the night of April 27, when this kidnapping/murder ordeal began.
So it would appear that they were very aware. And, again, according to Teresa Mayes in statements she's made to authorities, that after their mother and their older sister were murdered, they were all, the two bodies and the two young girls, placed into a vehicle and driven from Tennessee down into Mississippi. So you can only imagine how horrific that would have been.
COOPER: Now, Martin, Teresa, who's in custody, has been charged with first-degree murder. Did she drive the vehicle or did she -- is it known what role she played in this or allegedly played?
SAVIDGE: Well, again, in the statements -- and these are coming from the affidavits that authorities have filed. Originally, she was charged with aggravated kidnapping and then the next day, she was charged with first-degree murder as well.
And it was in the court documents that were filed at that time that her statements of witnessing the murder and driving the vehicle that carried the girls' bodies down to Mississippi, she admitted to doing that. She has subsequently told other people that she was in fear of her life and would never, ever have participated in such a horrible event.
COOPER: Joining us now on the phone is Bobbi Booth. Bobbi is the sister of Teresa Mayes, who had been the wife of Adam Mayes.
Bobbi, it's now confirmed that Adam Mayes is dead and that the two girls are safe, although dehydrated and obviously shaken by this experience. What are your thoughts on hearing that?
BOBBI BOOTH, SISTER-IN-LAW OF ADAM MAYES: The same as earlier. I'm just glad they're alive.
I would like to have seen Adam face his charges and stand more accountable. He took the sissy way out, but praise God the girls are safe. And that's all that matters.
COOPER: Do you have any sense of what -- I mean, what spurred all this, why he would have done this?
BOOTH: I have no idea at all.
COOPER: And have you talked to your sister since she's been in custody, since she's been charged?
BOOTH: No, they have not allowed her to have any phone calls.
COOPER: What are your thoughts on what your sister's been charged with?
BOOTH: It's unreal, unreal, because my sister does not have the mental state. I mean, she has a mind like a 10-year-old. And I'm not defending her. She needs to stand accountable for her actions. But they need to do -- the whole investigation needs to be done.
COOPER: What kind of guy -- I mean, your sister is reported to have said that she feared for her life. What kind of a guy was Adam Mayes?
BOOTH: Aggressive, abusive, crazy, obviously.
COOPER: Did you ever suspect he was capable of something like this?
BOOTH: No. And I have known him for 25-plus years. Never dreamed he would do this.
COOPER: What was his relationship to these girls?
BOOTH: Again, that's not something that I can even answer. My sister has stated that she felt the two youngest girls may have been his and that -- she felt Adam was having an affair with Jo Ann.
COOPER: So your sister believed...
BOOTH: Because they all seemed to be family friends. All of them, you know, seemed to get along. Whenever she would call our close friends, family friends, she would say the kids are over at the house.
So she'd have all the kids over there with her and Adam or they would be over there with Gary and Jo Ann. So...
COOPER: So your sister Teresa told you that she believed that Adam Mayes was having an affair with Jo Ann Bain, whom he is now accused of killing, and was the father to the two girls who he kidnapped, the 8- and 12-year-old girls who are now in safe custody.
Did your sister believe he was the father of Adrienne Bain, who he is also accused of killing?
COOPER: So she believed that he was just the father to the two young girls that he kidnapped?
BOOTH: That's my understanding, yes.
COOPER: Sunny Hostin, legal analyst, is joining us as well.
From a legal standpoint, what's the next step?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think the next step is interrogating Teresa, who is in prison right now, or is at least being held.
I mean, just because she may not have been the person that pulled the trigger doesn't mean that she won't be held accountable for their murders. And so I think that's where this investigation certainly is going.
COOPER: Bobbi, when did Teresa tell you -- did she -- she told you she actually witnessed the killings?
BOOTH: No. She has not told me any of that.
COOPER: But she told you she suspected that they had been killed?
BOOTH: Yes. She told me -- no, see, she has not even told me that. The only thing that she has told me was about the affair, that she felt Adam was cheating on her with Jo Ann.
And then when the crime scene -- when they were sent to the motel and the house was listed as a crime scene, she did tell me that they had found bodies and the location of the bodies.
COOPER: Bobbi, do you know who these girls will be returned to now since their mother is dead?
BOOTH: I have no idea.
COOPER: Martin Savidge, is there any reporting on that?
SAVIDGE: No. And it would be anticipated that they would go back to their father, which is Gary Bain. And, of course, he's waiting in Whiteville, Tennessee, which is about 80 miles away from where this drama played out today in Mississippi.
He has been somewhat in seclusion and he's been in great distress, we have been informed by authorities. And it's understandable why. But there has to be at least some sense of a bittersweet moment here that at least his two youngest daughters will eventually be returned to him. But, of course, before then, they have got to be checked out thoroughly.
COOPER: Well, just a violent end. Thankfully, the two girls are safe.
Martin Savidge, thank you for the reporting.
Bobbi Booth, I appreciate talking to you. I'm sorry for all you and your family are going through.
And Sunny Hostin as well, thank you very much for being here.
Up next, what did Mitt Romney mean when he said years ago that he wanted full equality for gay and lesbian Americans, and what does he mean now? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" with what appeared to be strong and decisive words from a politician in support of full equality for gays and lesbians.
We're not talking about President Obama, who yesterday announced he believes gays and lesbians should be able to marry. Tonight, we're talking about Mitt Romney, who 18 years ago said he supported -- quote -- "full equality" -- end quote. for gays and lesbians.
What is not clear tonight is what did that mean to Mitt Romney then, full equality, and what does he believe now? We are going to get into the specifics of what Romney wrote in just a moment 18 years ago, but, first, news tonight about the timing of President Obama's comments yesterday.
This report comes from CNN chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
Two senior administration officials say Vice President Joe Biden met with President Obama in the Oval Office yesterday morning and apologized to the president for putting him in a tough position.
You will remember last weekend, Biden spoke out on "Meet the Press" about same-sex marriage, saying it's a simple proposition of who you love and that he's comfortable with same-sex couples having the same rights as heterosexual couples.
After Biden apologized, the president responded by saying that he knows Biden was speaking from the heart. Biden's spokeswoman has also released this statement -- quote -- "The president has been the leader on this issue from day one and the vice president never intended to distract from that."
Unintended distraction or not, once President Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage, it was all anyone was talking about.
Here's what Romney said yesterday after the president's interview when Romney was asked about his own position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have the same view on marriage that I have when -- had when I was governor and that I have expressed many times. I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he also says he does not support civil unions if they have all the same rights as a marriage.
"Keeping Them Honest," though, back when Romney was running for Senate against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, Romney positioned himself as the gay rights candidate. Romney met with the Log Cabin Club in Massachusetts, a gay Republican group, and in a letter dated October 6, 1994, wrote -- quote -- "I am more convinced than ever before that as we speak to establish -- as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent."
Full equality, those were his words. Romney also writes in the letter -- quote -- "If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will."
A promise from Mitt Romney for equality, full equality for gays and lesbians. Now, one might ask how that can be reconciled with Romney's longstanding position that same-sex marriage should not be legal? What does full equality mean if not fully enjoying the rights of all other citizens, including the right to marry?
Well, in a FOX News debate in December, moderator Chris Wallace brought up the Log Cabin letter and asked Romney the following question. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: So you are still more of a champion of gay rights than Ted Kennedy was?
ROMNEY: I do not believe in discriminating against people based upon their sexual orientation. I believe, as a Republican, I had the potential to fight for anti-discrimination in a way that would be even better than Senator Kennedy, as a Democrat, who was expected to do so.
At the same time, Chris, in 1994 -- and throughout my career -- I have said I oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it's true that Romney has opposed same-sex marriage throughout his career, but at the same time he was pledging support for the gay community.
In a 1994 interview with the newspaper "Bay Windows," Romney said, and I quote, "I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican Party. And I would be a voice in the Republican Party to foster anti-discrimination efforts."
Romney was asked about that quote in January's NBC debate and specifically what he's done to stand up for gay rights. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: From the very beginning in 1994, I said to the gay community: I do not favor same-sex marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage, and that has been my -- my view.
But -- but if people are looking for someone who -- who will discriminate against gays or will in any way try and suggest that people -- that have different sexual orientation don't have full rights in this country, they won't find that in me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Full rights, fight equality, a fight for anti-discrimination, all Mitt Romney's words back then. We will leave it for you to decide if it makes sense to promote full equality for gays and lesbians, at the same time oppose marriage equality.
Romney's position on whether gays should be able to adopt children seems to be open to interpretation as well. Here's what he said on FOX News just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: And if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, and even want to adopt a child -- in my state, individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that's something which people have the right to do. But to call that marriage, is, in my view, a departure from the real meaning of that word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," though, back in 2005, Romney seemed to oppose the idea of same-sex couples raising kids. He was at an event in South Carolina.
He said -- quote -- "Today, same-sex couples are marrying under the law in Massachusetts. Some are actually having children born to them. We have been asked to change their birth certificates to remove the phrase mother and father and replace it with parent A and parent B. It's not right on paper. It's not right in fact. Every child deserves to have a mother and a father."
Joining me right now live is Romney adviser Kevin Madden and CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala.
So, Kevin, full rights, full equality, the words that he used back in 1994, promised not to discriminate against the gay community. How does that square with Romney's position today? What did full equality mean to Romney back then?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I don't know the full context of what the debate was taking place in 1994, but I expect in answering that question and in talking about the issue, he was talking about discrimination, and that he didn't believe that then, as he does now, that we should that we should discriminate against people base on their sexual identity or their sexual orientation.
And he still holds true to that belief. I think on the issue of marriage, it comes down to the definition, whether it's the government -- how the government defines it and what the contract between two people is. And that -- his belief is that a marriage should be defined very simply as that -- as a union between one man and one woman. COOPER: But in South Carolina, when he was talking to conservative groups back in 2005, he made it sound as if he didn't like the idea of gay people having kids.
MADDEN: Well, I don't know what the -- I don't know what the exact specifics of that question or that debate were.
I know that there's been a lot of different discussions in different states and in different jurisdictions about what the laws would be as they relate to adoption or gay adoption. That question may have been phrased as one down in South Carolina. I know that in Massachusetts, the law differs there than -- it does differ from other states.
COOPER: Paul, do you see an evolution in Governor Romney's position from the time he was running in Massachusetts to now?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a devolution, you know, from committing again and again in writing to the Log Cabin Club for full equality, and now -- even now saying, well, I don't support discrimination.
Yes, he does. Governor Romney wants to kick people out of the military because they're gay. He wants to reinstate don't ask/don't tell, which was a discriminatory policy. It kicked people out because of their sexual orientation. He supports amending the U.S. Constitution. This is a man who in writing said he was for full equality. He wants to change our most precious founding document to write discrimination into it.
COOPER: Paul, I thought Romney said he doesn't want to touch don't ask/don't tell at this point.
BEGALA: He wants to -- I will go look it up. He has said he wants to reinstate don't ask, don't tell. Maybe Kevin can tell us like in the last seven minutes what his new position is.
But he has called for reinstating don't ask, don't tell, Anderson. I will double-check that. I have been wrong before. But...
COOPER: Kevin, what about that?
MADDEN: Well, Paul, under your definition, then, in 1996, President Obama then was for discrimination. And under your definition, then President Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act, was for discrimination.
BEGALA: That's right. That's right, Kevin.
I love President Clinton. I love President Obama. They were for discrimination. They have now evolved, like most of the country. I will say this. This is what's odd. When Mitt Romney was saying he was for full equality, only about 25 percent of Americans held that view. So that was a pretty bold thing that he was saying back then, that Governor Romney was saying, then Mr. Romney.
Today, over 50 percent. So the American people have been on the same journey that frankly former President Clinton has been on and that President Obama has been on. The majority of Americans now have been on the same journey as President Obama. And I think that's why this change of position from President Obama will not likely hurt him.
But I think the position for Governor Romney likely will, because he's going the wrong way, frankly, toward more and more discrimination.
MADDEN: Well, there are a lot of Americans out there, Paul, who believe that we should not be discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation, but when it comes to defining marriage, that it should be defined as that of a union between one man and one woman.
And I think if you have seen it -- time and time again, when that question has been put to voters, 32 states, 32 times, people have made their voice heard and that that is -- what they believe should be the definition.
COOPER: Kevin, doesn't he open himself up to yet again another argument about flip-flopping if when he's running in liberal Massachusetts against liberal Ted Kennedy, he's talking about full equality for gays and lesbians, and you don't hear him using that phrase anymore more today? Today, he's talking about opposing same- sex marriage and even civil unions.
Well, look, Anderson, I think there's going to be charges of flip- flopping all over in this campaign. That's just what happens. And I think it's up to the voters to really decide. I don't believe that right now voters are going to be talking about what happened 19 years ago or 50 years ago.
They're going to be talking about the issues here before us. And I think in this campaign, we have an agreement that there's a very clear contrast on the two candidates and how they define what a marriage should be. Governor Romney believes it should be between a man around a woman. He's made that very clear. He will continue to make it clear during this campaign. And voters going to the polls that are animated about this particular issue, care about it, will have a clear choice.
COOPER: Paul, just for accuracy's sake, I just to read you -- I just looked this up. Headline: "Romney Would Preserve Open Gay Service in the Military. Mitt Romney indicated he would preserve the repeal of don't ask, don't tell during an interview with 'The Des Moines Register' editorial board this afternoon."
This was on December 9, 2011.
BEGALA: OK. I will stand corrected then. I thought I had heard him say that he wanted to reinstate it. I guess I was wrong. So I'm happy to be corrected about that. That is a form of discrimination. I'm glad he doesn't want to go back to it.
COOPER: Kevin, I appreciate you joining us, Paul Begala as well.
Getting into the "Raw Politics," there are some who say President Obama's stance on same-sex marriage could hurt his base with African- American voters. But civil rights activist and former NAACP chairman Julian Bond says that's not necessarily the case, in his opinion, that the tide, he says, is turning.
I spoke to him right before our broadcast. I spoke to Mr. Bond about and about what he believes Mitt Romney's definition of equality is.
COOPER: So, Mr. Bond, back in 1994, Mitt Romney talked about seeking what he said was full equality for gays and lesbians. To you, what does full equality mean?
JULIAN BOND, FORMER CHAIRMAN, NAACP: Full equality means enjoying all of the rights that everybody else in the country enjoys. If everybody else in the country enjoys rights one, two, three and four, you have got to enjoy those rights too.
COOPER: Because as recently as yesterday, Romney said he didn't favor certainly not same-sex marriage, he didn't favor civil unions if they're identical to marriage in everything but name. Does that sound like full equality to you?
BOND: No, not at all, of course. It doesn't sound like and it isn't like it.
COOPER: You have been very outspoken, an outspoken advocate for marriage equality. What was your personal reaction to the president's public endorsement yesterday?
BOND: Well, I was thrilled and excited. This was a position I had always thought that he had. I always felt that he felt this way. I was waiting and waiting for him to say so. And I'm just so happy that he finally said it. I wish it had been sooner. But I'm willing to take what I got.
COOPER: Were you surprised that he said this before the election?
BOND: Well, not because of the series of events that preceded it, the statement from Vice President Biden, the secretary of education, and just the rising tide in the country of people who have changed old ideas and adopted new ideas and said the time for change has come.
So I think it was almost inevitable that he would say this sooner or later, and I'm happy it was sooner rather than later.
COOPER: There's been a lot of question about support among African- Americans for same-sex marriage. Some African-Americans have expressed strong disapproval of the president's position and there's a lot of people wondering if that is going to affect their support for him come November. What do you think?
BOND: I don't think so.
I think this -- in African-American communities, like every other community in the country, the tide is shifting, people are thinking differently. Younger people are saying these are old fashioned ideas, we don't feel that way. My mom, my dad, my grandfather may, but I don't feel that way.
And I think President Obama is just going with the tide. He's sensed the feeling of people are -- people are different now. And he's willing to take a risk that this will affect his election, but I don't think it will affect it one whit, except for those people who will say my enthusiasm for him has grown since he made this statement.
COOPER: Do you think -- often, a lot of people look at the African- American community and say that there's not a lot of support for same- sex marriage there.
Do you think the tide is turning even among African-Americans? Do you think that's kind of overstated, the opposition to same-sex marriage among African-Americans?
BOND: I know the tide is changing.
I can see from poll results where the support for same-sex marriage used to be minimal. It grew. It grew and grew. And I'm not exactly sure what it is now, but I think at least a majority if not more of African-Americans say this is the right thing to do.
COOPER: You, though, have really been out in front in comparing the fight for equality for gay and lesbian Americans to the fight for equality for African-Americans, for the -- to the civil rights movement. You say that really this is the new front of the civil rights movement. Why?
BOND: Well, I think it is.
I mean, any time a group of people are denied rights and struggle for their rights, that's a civil rights movement. And what is peculiar to me is that when women were struggling for their rights, as they have been for many, many years and will continue to do so, nobody said that they were trying to ape the black people's movement.
This is only -- this question is only raised when gays and lesbians are at the issue, and I think it's a front for homophobia and for just hostile feelings towards this section of the population, which exists among all people, black, white, whatever they are, gay people everywhere in this country, and we ought to embrace them and help them to achieve equal status with the rest of us.
This is a country that likes to be proud of its stance on civil rights and this is another step forward we are going to take pretty soon.
COOPER: Do you think what the president did yesterday, do you think it makes a big difference? Do you think it actually changes something?
BOND: I think it makes an enormous different.
First, it's an endorsement. When the president says he's for something, it doesn't mean it is going to happen. It just means we now know what he feels and how he thinks about it. And when he says that, it sends a powerful signal that the most powerful figure in the land of the brave and the free has spoken out in favor of freedom and justice and rightness and correctness for everybody.
And while he can't make everybody believe that, he certainly can make everybody think this is the right thing to do. And I think he did that yesterday.
COOPER: Julian Bond, I appreciate you being on. Mr. Bond, thank you.
BOND: My pleasure. Thank you.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper.
Up next: a new development in our investigation into a charity that claims to raise money for disabled veterans. They have raised some $56 million in the last three years. We got a very strange e-mail from them quoting the lyrics to a George Michael song as their response to the questions we asked them.
Now they claim their e-mail was hacked. What they haven't addressed is what they have done with the millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars in donations. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight. Yet another strange twist in our investigation of that charity that claims to raise money for disabled veterans.
Now, every night this week, we've been reporting on the Disabled Veterans National Foundation. This is what they call themselves. Its own tax filings show that it's raised $56 million in donations for veterans in the past three years. But not one dime of that money has actually gone directly to help disabled veterans that we could tell.
Over the past couple of nights I have asked the group's president, Precilla Wilkewitz, make yourself available anywhere, any time to me or to Drew Griffin who's been doing the reporting to explain what the foundation has done with the nearly 56 million -- the $56 million that you've collected.
Yesterday, CNN's Drew Griffin sent her an e-mail to see if she'd come on this program to answer our questions. He's been trying for years, by the way, to get a response.
And last night he got a strange response. As we reported on the program, the e-mail said basically she disagreed with Drew's reporting and the only thing she had to say -- and she actually wrote all this out -- were the lyrics of the 1980s hit George Michaels song "Careless Whisper." That's right: we got all the lyrics to "Careless Whisper" in her e-mail.
Then today came the latest twist. We got a statement from a spokesman -- a spokesman for the group who claims someone hacked into Ms. Wilkewitz's e-mail and her Facebook account. The statement says, quote, "These bizarre and nonsensical communications were sent from the account when it was outside of her control. The hacker damaged by Pricilla and DVNF's reputation." By the way that's the wrong spelling of Ms. Wilkewitz's first name in their own statement. Their error, not ours.
The spokesman went on to say, "We want everyone to know about our program services and direct financial support we provide to veterans and the positive impact we have made in the lives of thousands of individuals and families."
Now, this whole "Careless Whisper" thing might be funny if the allegations here were not so serious, but they are. And nowhere in that statement was a response to our questions, our repeated questions over a lengthy amount of time about the group's failure to provide direct monetary help to veterans groups. They still won't answer those questions.
Now, recently, Drew caught up with Ms. Wilkewitz, president of the charity, to try to get answers. Look what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRECILLA WILKEWITZ, PRESIDENT, DVNF: You're the one from CNN?
GRIFFIN: That's right.
(voice-over) Meet Precilla Wilkewitz, president of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, whom we found at a small VFW office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
WILKEWITZ: Well, this is a Veterans of Foreign Wars, and I really didn't think you'd do something like this. Now, we've agreed to talk to you.
GRIFFIN: Nobody has agreed -- so here is the question, raised over three years...
WILKEWITZ: Thank you so much. GRIFFIN: None of the money has gone to any veterans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So if the $56 million they've raised isn't going to veterans groups, just what does the DVNF provide veterans groups? Well, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.D. SIMPSON, PRESIDENT, THREE HOTS AND A COT: They sent us 2,600 bags of cough drops and 2,200 little bottles of sanitizer. And the great thing, they sent us 11,520 bags of coconut M&Ms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's J.D. Simpson, who's the executive director of the St. Benedict's Veterans Center in Birmingham, Alabama. He talked to us earlier this week on 360, I spoke to him again tonight along with Drew Griffin.
COOPER: Drew, these allegations that this e-mail account was hacked, what do we know about this?
GRIFFIN: The only information we have comes from DVNF, which sent us that e-mail statement this afternoon.
We do know that that would be potentially a federal crime. We asked if there was a police report filed on this. Earlier today there wasn't. And I was notified late this afternoon that, indeed, the FBI may be calling Precilla Wilkewitz to look into this.
I also did reiterate our, you know, suggestion that they come on the air and answer some questions or tell us where this money went, but we haven't heard back on that -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Mr. Simpson, you told Drew that what this national veterans charity is doing is stealing. Those were your words. You said, "stealing, when it gets right down to it." Why do you think it's stealing?
SIMPSON: Mr. Cooper, we help veterans down here every day in the trenches. We're working with the homeless veterans on the streets. We struggle every month to pay our bills. We're a nonprofit organization. None of us are on any payroll; we're all volunteers. And what they're claiming they did would fund my organization for 300 years.
They're taking money from patriotic Americans to help veterans, and what they're doing with it, that's what you guys are trying to figure out. We don't know. It's not getting to the streets to help the veterans.
We've still got guys on the streets that I can't find housing for. I'm running out of food. I'm running out of money to pay the bills. And organizations like this are out there just stealing. I mean, there's no other way you can put it, Mr. Cooper.
This money is given in good faith to help veterans. There's groups like me all over the country. I'm one small guy in Alabama trying to do my part. There's hundreds of me out there. We're Three Hots and a Cot. That's one of these people. Three hot meals and somewhere to sleep. And there's very limited resources out there, we all know that.
But this company has taken $56 million and done what with it, we don't know. We need help and they're disabled veterans, and there's great projects out there they could be helping.
COOPER: In their promotional material, they say -- and I want to quote them right, so let me just read this. They say that in Alabama, where your center is, that what they send to the centers in Alabama, they say, quote, "We send by the truckload items that these centers say they need, desperately, to provide the daily outreach."
Have you ever requested thousands of bags of coconut M&Ms or hundreds of pairs of Navy dress shoes from this organization? Because that's what they've sent you.
SIMPSON: No, sir. They called me the -- the three truckloads they called me and said, "Hey, we've got some donations coming from the DVNF. We know you guys can use them. Send us a thank-you letter, and we'll send them to you."
We bring them into a central warehouse here with the Christian mission here in Birmingham. And we get what we can use out of it, which usually is very little. And the rest we try and give to other organizations in the community that might be able to use them.
The 11,500 some bags of M&Ms, I think I sent CNN the last four bags I had, just because I wanted somebody to have them. We all got tired of them around here. Nothing against Mars; they're a great company. But that's not what our homeless veterans need.
Our homeless veterans need -- need work boots. They need work gloves. We need clean shirts. We need -- we need money to help get these guys bus passes and buy them work clothes and find them jobs. I mean, it -- M&Ms isn't the answer.
You know, when I was 7, that was the answer to my world problems. That's not the answer today.
COOPER: They say they responded to your request. Have you ever specifically asked for them for a specific item for help?
SIMPSON: Yes, sir, I asked them for $38,000 in November of last year to help us replace some storm windows in our centers. And they sent me a decline letter in February of this year. That's the only thing I ever asked them for, and they told me no.
COOPER: Drew, where do things go from here? I mean, we're still trying to figure out where the $56 million that they've raised over the last three years, what they've actually spent it on or where it is.
GRIFFIN: Actually, we do know where it went. It went to their chief fundraising company, this private company named Quadriga Arts.
What we're having trouble dealing with or finding answers to is why Quadriga is basically charging this charity more than a dollar to raise a dollar. That's basically where we're at.
And Quadriga, you know, they raise funds -- they admittedly raise funds for more than 500 charities. So we would like to find out, is this the same pattern at all these charities that Quadriga is involved with?
So we are trying to follow the money that way, but so far we have just gotten shut doors from Quadriga Arts, as well.
COOPER: Well, we'll continue to try. Drew Griffin, appreciate it. J.D. Simpson, thank you so much.
COOPER: Backpage.com is not backing down. Tonight, the classified ads Web site is ignoring calls to shut down its adult services section, despite evidence that it's a tool for people who want to sell kids for sex. "Keeping Them Honest," ahead.
COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report about Backpage.com, the leading Web site for adult services ads.
Now last week, we reported on the growing push to shut down the Web site's adults services section, where law officials say underaged girls were sold for sex. That was on Friday.
On Monday, U.S. Congressman Robert Turner in New York introduced a House resolution calling for a Village Voice Media Holdings, which owns Backpage.com, to shut down the ads immediately.
The pressure on the Web site has been building for months. The country's 51 attorneys general, 19 U.S. senators, 600 religious leaders, more than 50 NGOs, and a petition with more than 230,000 signatures are all calling on the media company to shut down its classified ad, adult services section.
But tonight Backpage.com is not backing down one inch. To understand the outrage over Backpage.com, take a look at what CNN's Deborah Feyerick found in a recent report she did for 360.
JOHN CHOI, ATTORNEY: When we get a case involving the trafficking of prostitution, usually the story is going to start on Backpage.com.
"DAWN," MOTHER OF VICTIMIZED CHILD: The daughter I know is a kid that likes to color.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Dawn, that's exactly where the story took her 15-year-old girl, a child who apparently ran away with a man who seduced her online. Within days, that man had posted pictures of the child on Backpage.com, selling the girl into prostitution, allegations detailed in a criminal complaint.
"DAWN": He officially took her and beat her into submission to raping her and then held her into prostitution. It totally, totally crushed me, to know that somebody actually did this to her.
FEYERICK: The accused pimp in that case has pleaded not guilty, pending trial. It's one of more than 50 cases in 22 states of people charged with advertising underaged girls for sex on Backpage.com.
COOPER: Well, the New York City Council recently held hearings on a resolution to stop those Backpage ads. One of the people who testified described how she ended up with a pimp after running away from home. She told her story from behind a screen to protect her privacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The main way that he felt that he felt that he made the most money was through Backpage. At this time, I'm 12 years old, and Backpage sent me at least 35 dates a night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: She says 35 dates a night at the age of 12.
Now, Liz McDougall, the lawyer for Backpage.com, also testified at the hearing. She says shutting down Backpage will only make it harder to actually catch child predators and sex traffickers.
The ads people run on Backpage brought in almost $27 million last year, according to the Internet research firm AIM Group. After Craigslist shut down its adult services section back in 2010, many of the ads migrated to Backpage, and that's obviously something of a windfall for the parent company.
Liz McDougall joins me now. Thanks very much for being with us.
LIZ MCDOUGALL, LAWYER FOR BACKPAGE.COM: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: You say that this is not a site for prostitution, but any reading of these ads, I mean, can you really say with a straight face it's not a prostitution site?
MCDOUGALL: What I say is that is this a site where any illegal activity is unwelcome. Human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and illegal prostitution.
COOPER: But it's full of ads for illegal activity. MCDOUGALL: Well, we actually have more than 85 percent of our content has nothing to do with the adult category.
COOPER: But that's where you make your money.
MCDOUGALL: No, we charge for a multitude of categories. This is one category where there is income. We are a business. We do make money.
But keep in mind that we have 80 percent of our staff dedicated to policing and to cooperating with law enforcement to prevent cases of exploitation from ever making it live on the Internet. So that we can facilitate rescues and so that we can cooperate with law enforcement to ensure convictions when there are those opportunities.
COOPER: But I mean, there are ads which are just clearly for sexual -- for prostitution. I mean, I looked at these ads for a brief amount of time, and you can find ones, you know, saying, "Very slim, Filipino Dominican hottie." She says, "I'm all about good times and freaky pleasures."
Another one says, "Come to my garden and enjoy the rose bush." Do you think she's a gardener? I mean...
MCDOUGALL: I don't think she's a gardener, but you know, there's no -- one of the challenges in this area is that there isn't a black and white line between legal sex work and illegal sex work.
COOPER: Prostitution is illegal, though.
MCDOUGALL: Prostitution is illegal, but there is also legal sex work of a variety of kinds. And particularly in this economy, there are people who are engaging in legal sex work as the only means to be able to pay their bills and to survive.
COOPER: So you believe that...
MCDOUGALL: Actually, we are doing our best to find the lines between what is illegal activity and what is not. To do that better -- and we want to do that better -- we need more collaboration with law enforcement and with NGOs and with projects like CNN's Freedom -- Freedom Program that is trying to focus on preventing exploitation.
COOPER: But to say that you want to be the sheriffs of the Internet, which is what you've said in interviews before, it just seems disingenuous. I mean, if you -- the actual sheriffs -- the states' attorneys general want to shut you guys down, all 51 of them.
MCDOUGALL: But the states' attorneys general aren't the actual sheriff. If you talk to the vice officers on the ground -- and I've provided a list of those officers to your producer to talk to, they say just the opposite. They say that Backpage is the most cooperative and one of the most valuable tools they have.
COOPER: I've also talked to law enforcement...
MCDOUGALL: ... for rescuing -- for rescuing victims and for getting the evidence for convictions. Furthermore...
COOPER: You do respond to law enforcement, and they appreciate that, as does the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I talked to law enforcement, though, who also say, you know, they wish you'd shut down. I mean, there's plenty of police out there who believe you're basically just providing a huge street corner for prostitutes to work on.
MCDOUGALL: Well, I would -- I would disagree because the law enforcement that we talk to repeatedly, we have hundreds of thousands of e-mails of accolades for our assistance.
But the point is not just to assist them in stings and in stopping the perpetrators when they're online. We are actively pursuing rescues. Since January of this year, I can give you at least four examples of rescues. In January, we rescued a child in Seattle, Washington, because our moderators, before the ad got online, identified this as a potentially exploited minor. We reported to NCMEC.
COOPER: But there are other ads, which -- you know, I mean, there was an ad that, you know, a woman writes about "Make me beg. Smack me. Spit on me. Degrade me" that CNN found just recently.
MCDOUGALL: As I explained to Deborah, if that language got through, it should not have. And that was a mistake, and mistakes happen with human moderation.
COOPER: But you're basically saying, in order to stop prostitution, which is an illegal activity, you need to give pimps Web sites. Does that make sense?
MCDOUGALL: What you're saying doesn't make sense, because we're not giving the pimps Web sites. That's...
COOPER: You're giving them advertising.
MCDOUGALL: That is a factor of the Internet. And the Internet is not...
COOPER: But there's plenty of places for them to advertise. But you're giving them the most well-organized biggest one since Craigslist has gone away.
MCDOUGALL: There are, according to Share Hope International, approximately 5,000 Web site that permit adult advertising. And we could drive this traffic to other ones like Eros, like My Red Book that are off shore and that have no interest in cooperating and that, two, we can't get when they're offshore.
COOPER: Just because there are other bad actors out there doesn't that what you're doing is right. You say you...
MCDOUGALL: Because we enable rescues and convictions. The other sides won't or don't.
COOPER: You say you don't allow underaged people. You have no way of verifying whether or not somebody is underaged. You just have to check off whether -- the person just says, "Oh yes, I'm over 18."
MCDOUGALL: We do far more than check off whether they're over 18. We have automated filters for terms, and then we have a two tiers of manual review that...
COOPER: They can lie in the ad about it, though.
MCDOUGALL: They can lie on the ad. We have people examining the images to try to identify if someone is underaged and to look for other indicia.
COOPER: Well, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has just asked you just this week to actually have physical verification. There are some Web sites that somebody wants to place an ad actually has to go to an office and show an I.D. You could have that in every city that you operate in. Why don't you do that?
MCDOUGALL: I was so glad to get that letter from the mayors this week, because finally, some elected officials are taking an intelligent approach to this problem.
COOPER: So would you consent to do that?
MCDOUGALL: That is something that we've been exploring for months and are continuing to explore. When you're talking about the Internet...
COOPER: What does that mean continuing to explore, though? You guys have been in business for a very long period of time. There have been plenty of people who have wanted you to do this before. This isn't the first time you ever considered this idea.
So why not just be able to say, "Yes, we're going to do this"? I know it's going to cost you money, but if that's the right thing to do.
MCDOUGALL: Money is not the issue. The issue is how do you functionally implement this? There are already technologies where you can verify the age of the poster, but that's not helpful to verifying the age of the person in the image. There's no technology to do that currently.
COOPER: Unless, of course, he comes directly in, and you have to show an I.D.
MCDOUGALL: Right, if you have any knowledge and understanding of how the Internet works is a practical impossibility in the Internet realm. What we are exploring is ways to make it a possibility.
COOPER: Right. You have -- you have...
MCDOUGALL: We are going to set that standard not just for us but for the entire online service provider community.
COOPER: Do you know when you'll be able to decide whether or not you can actually do that? Get a physical verification?
MCDOUGALL: It's a matter of exploring and programming and collaboration with other service -- online service providers, other technology provide providers, with law enforcement.
COOPER: I appreciate your perspective. I appreciate you coming in to talk about it. Thank you very much.
MCDOUGALL: Thank you for listening.
COOPER: Thanks. We'll be right back.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."
The Justice Department is filing a civil rights lawsuit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Federal authorities say the Maricopa County sheriff's office failed to address racial discrimination and other violations. The sheriff denies the accusations.
New fallout from the Florida A&M hazing scandal. Suspended marching band director Junior White announced his retirement today. Eleven people face felony hazing charges in the death of drum major Robert Champion.
And a possible break in a 22-year-old art heist. Law enforcement agents have taken evidence from the home of suspected gangster Robert Ginthierry (ph). He's facing drug and weapons charges, but police believe he also has information on the 1990 theft at Boston's Isabella Stewart Garden and Museum.
The paintings are worth about $500 million. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Good evening, everyone. We don't have time for "The RidicuList" tonight because of the breaking news this evening. See you tomorrow. Good night.