March 25, 2010, - 2:47 pm

Big Business: Who Owns the Freedom Concerts? How Sean Hannity’s Private Jets, Luxe SUVs, Suites Were Paid

By Debbie Schlussel

Last week, I told you about Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concert scam and how the ultimate recipient of some of the proceeds, Freedom Alliance, spent millions on cronies and expenses, very little on severely wounded soldiers and scholarships for America’s fallen.  In fact, it’s far worse than I originally reported.  The scam is far bigger.  And it’s big business. . . . for cronies and friends of Sean Hannity and Oliver North.  I’ll be writing more in the coming days about the Freedom Alliance, itself, and where the money the charity receives is really going.


Duane Ward & Sean Hannity: Freedom Concerts are Big Business for Them

In fact, despite the written denials of both North and Freedom Alliance chief Thomas Kilgannon, Sean Hannity did NOT pay for his own private jet flights to the various Freedom Concerts.  In fact, the money for his expensive travel came right from the revenue of the Freedom Concerts, a big, profitable business, which isn’t owned or operated by Freedom Alliance.  While the charity is technically correct that Freedom Alliance didn’t pay for it in recent years, in fact Freedom Concert revenue, which is controlled by Hannity’s speaking engagement agents, did.  The operant question here is, who owns the Freedom Concerts?

The answer, according to an insider, is apparently Premiere Speakers Bureau, owned by Duane Ward, Oliver North’s longtime PR man, and the speaking engagement agent for both North and Hannity, as well as many FOX News and other conservative personalities.  Premiere runs the Freedom Concerts and owns the domain name, sells the Freedom Concerts merchandise, etc.  While only a $4 surcharge on Freedom Concert tickets goes to Freedom Alliance, the rest is controlled by Ward and his various companies.  I contacted Duane Ward via e-mail ( and telephone.  He did not respond to questions, which included a request for Freedom Concerts’ financial records and an accounting of Freedom Concert revenues and Premiere travel arrangements for Hannity to fly in high-style to the events.  And the inside source–who asked to remain anonymous because of legitimate fears of retaliation by Ward and Hannity–says it’s a huge profit center for Ward and Premiere.



So huge that on May 3, 2008, Hannity hosted a Freedom Concert in Las Vegas, under the name, “Sean Hannity & Friends Freedom Concert,” but the concert was apparently not even connected to the Freedom Alliance.  A disabled retired Marine whom I know said:

I called Freedom Alliance and asked them about it and was told that they–Freedom Alliance–weren’t affiliated with this particular event, even though North would be there.

So where did the money go? Ask Duane Ward. The man needs to release a full accounting and all the financial records for these concerts.

While those buying tickets think all of the proceeds of the concerts go to the Freedom Alliance, in fact, none of the proceeds go to the charity, only the $4 surcharge.  The source confirmed that Premiere paid for Hannity (out of Freedom Concerts revenue) to fly to many of the concerts on private jets, along with his entourage, and the source confirms the conversation I described in my report last week, in which North scolded Hannity for wasting so much of the Freedom Concert money on private jets, swanky suites, and luxe SUVs.  The source is the second source to confirm the conversation. The particular conversation cited took place in 2008, and there were several witnesses to it, including one of Hannity’s radio producers, who is married to Oliver North’s former personal assistant. Don’t look for her to tell the truth . . . if either of them ever wants to work again.

The source said that North scolded Hannity about this on several occasions, and is, again, the second such witness to confirm that.  North won’t publicly admit to this–and knowingly signed a false letter claiming that Hannity pays for his travel and accommodations for the Freedom Concerts–because North makes big bucks from Premiere Speakers Bureau.  Premiere books North for several speaking engagements a month, at $30,000-$40,000 a pop.  That’s where he makes his money, and is extremely wealthy because of Premiere and Ward.  He can’t afford to kill the golden goose.

The source said, however, that I got two tiny details wrong:  that Hannity didn’t only fly on Gulfstream 4 or 5 jets, but oftentimes flew on Embraer Legacy 600 private jets.  (Hannity usually flies these private planes out of Atlantic Aviation on Long Island.)  Also, that Hannity didn’t always use Cadillac Escalades to ferry around his posse.  Sometimes, it was the comparable Yukons, Tahoes, or Suburbans.  My bad.  The costs add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and according to the source, Hannity pays for none of it.

In fact, the source said, frequently Premiere asks those who book Hannity for speaking engagements to pay a set amount of money for travel up-front.  Since Hannity almost always insists on a private jet, Premiere tries to increase the set travel fee, then save money on the travel and someone–Premiere or Hannity–pockets the rest.  It’s not returned to the sponsor of the speaking engagement.

So, who is Duane Ward, exactly?

Duane Ward was, for many years, Oliver North’s paid PR person.  During the Iran-Contra hearings, Rev. Jerry Falwell told North that he did not have good public relations to counter negative media coverage.  He suggested that North hire Falwell’s assistant, Ward.  Ward worked for North for several years as his personal assistant and press flack.  But after the dust settled, North needed a new line of work and income source.  So, Ward began setting up speaking engagements for North, and became his first client in what is now Ward’s Tennessee-based Premiere Speakers Bureau.  North  began to bring in his FOX News colleagues, including Sean Hannity and (recently) Mike Huckabee, as clients.  (Other Premiere clients include Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Dick Morris, Neil Cavuto, Curtis Sliwa, and many others, many of whom are FOX News contributors or employees.)

Ward has several companies under the Premiere banner, including Premiere Transportation, which provided campaign buses for nearly every major Presidential campaign in 2008, including those of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Mitt Romney.  And it provides the buses–shocker!–for the Freedom Concerts, when, for example, it’s a short ride from Hannity’s New York location to the Freedom Concert that took place in New Jersey.

And Ward owns something called “Premiere Collectibles,” which includes all of the licensed “Freedom Concert” t-shirts, rain ponchos, etc. sold at the concerts (note Oliver North’s book, “American Heroes,” for sale on the site . . . and click on it to see  his phony video pimping it).  The source says it’s big money, and that it’s also big money for the conservative personalities who appear at the concerts and are provided booths where their books are also sold at the concerts.


And then there is Premiere’s scamming of the artists who appear at the Concerts.  Premiere signs the artists to appear at the concerts.  The source says that some of the talent, like at least one artist I know of who’ve appeared at the concerts, are told by Ward’s Premiere employees that since the proceeds are “going to charity,” they are expected to pay their own travel and perform for free.  At the same time, other artists, like Montgomery Gentry–according to the source, are paid an appearance fee and luxe travel and accomodations are provided.  The source estimates that Genty was paid $50,000 to perform at one Freedom Concert, while the source believes that Michael W. Smith performed for free.

The scams are so deep and so large that Freedom Alliance, the charity that benefits (and also wastes a good deal of the money on expenses and spending on cronies) did not allow media coverage of the Freedom Concerts at one point.

When I was a teen working in Washington during the summers, I helped organize a giant rally in support of Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings.  It was a huge success and made Newsweek and Nightline–then big media outlets because cable wasn’t that powerful yet and there was no internet.  I thought North was an honorable and decent man who cared about his country.

But his signature on a letter from Freedom Alliance denying what he knows to be true–what he scolded Sean Hannity about in front of witnesses–tells me what I should have realized long ago:  that I was naive about Oliver North, that he’s dishonest, and that he’ll go out of his way to protect his friends and cronies and cover up their wrong-doing.  And that continuing to make big bucks is more important to him than telling the truth.

Regardless, both Freedom Alliance and Premiere/Duane Ward need to release a full accounting of all revenue taken in and spent in connection with the Freedom Concerts.  Where is the money . . . and where did it go?

We’ll probably never know.  But I have a pretty good idea.  And I know for sure most of it is going to line pockets, not help severely wounded troops or children of the fallen troops.

More to come. Stay tuned.

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92 Responses

Good work Debbie. Hannity and Ward lots of splaining to do.

Oscar on March 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

One could see Hannity was scum from the get-go. He always has a condescending smirk on his face. If Hannity was from Chicago, he would, surely, be a Cubs fan. He looks a little “fruity”.

BobKatz on March 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Great posting. Excellent research and analysis

buckjohnson on March 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Oscar… don’t count on them to ‘fess up. If they were honorable, they wouldn’t be doing all this stuff in the first place.

NormanF on March 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Obambi used the coffins of dead soldiers as a photo op once. These guys have been doing it for years and living off their pain in luxury. They are all traitors to our Republic and the brave men and women who volunteered to serve.

May they rot in hell after a long prison sentence for fraud.

as usual Debbie great work at exposing the liars for what they are. They will probably attack you now by accusing you of being blonde and still not answer for any of the facts who have exposed.

ender on March 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Damn this is worst than I thought. This goes directly to the rights defense of vannity, claiming he paid his own way. They didn’t even adress the fact of how much money was going to troops. They act just like the liberals when they can’t defend something they call names and attack the messenger. Im not surprised this story has got no mainstream attention. People act like fox is different but there not, they sleep in the same bed as katie couric and all the rest of them. I am done with all the mainstream conservative news sites. World net daily, Michael savage and all the rest have been mum on this issue and just reiterated what freedom alliance said. I used to think savage was different but he defended bill oreilly and really doesn’t complain a whole lot about fox news, he does but no where near enough. They completly ignored his being banned from england but he defends them like the little san francisco treat that he is.

tyler on March 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

These slimey faux conservatives need to slither back under their rocks

DS_ROCKS! on March 25, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I don’t care…I am going to where the truth is. So far DS has been able to back up what she says and at least she has values and credibility. Those are hard to find in these dark times.

I’m sorry about Oliver North. Another disappointment.

Skunky on March 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Hi Tyler,

Actually Michael Savage did mention this story twice on his show the past week and definately on Wednesday (although he didn’t mention Debbie–which is strange because he usually cites his sources).

jimmyPx on March 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

What did savage say about it? If he made a big deal out of vannity being a fraud then cudos to savage. From what I had heard when this story first came out savage didn’t even mention hannity by name. I’m just not sold on savage being anti fox if it were me I would dedicate an entire show to fox news and take many calls from the audience. Being a conservative who hates fox news we are never heard and are basically silenced. Savage could do more.

tyler on March 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Another outstanding post. Can you get this stuff under FOIA?

Little Al on March 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

This network of phony conservatives clearly has more than slipshod politics (at best) to hold it together. While I realized there was money involved in their associations, I didn’t realize how much there was, or how significant these financial ties have been. The conservative movement really does need to be shaken up, because of its failure to fight on a multi-front basis, the concessions to Muslims, subservience to the Saudis, failure to effectively discuss or produce credible foreign policy alternatives, and essentially to be little more than a series of gossip columnists. We need more than that, and hopefully these exposes will carry us in that direction.

Little Al on March 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I can confirm M Savage, who I like, did cover this last week and this week. I was sad he did not cite you. but the moment he starts talking about which name he has for these various peoople. I already know he read you……..

As a financial auditor in policy wonking, helping companies be and remain in compliance with financial detail-policies. I was not trained to go after actual persons. I can attest that this is VERY bad and VERY damaging. The legal team on this must be huge and very very extensive. B/c forensic accountants can find this sort of thing out in no time, given the books and plenty of time. This is a MAJOR STORY.

As usual our DS does great.

Now, why is H being taken down? Is fox tired of him? We know its geniune wrong doing. but what is going on? Will Glenn Beck get his time slot? or is he “untouchable”? Hmm…


linda on March 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I am assuming money donated to Hannity’s “Charity” is Tax deductible as a donation. However, if the money is going to where Debbie says it is going (And Debbie has so much credibility there is no way I would not believe her), wouldn’t that make the contributions non tax deductible? That ought to create a fairly large scandal.

I_AM_ME on March 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Will these articles stop if you get a call from these people offering you money to go away?

ebayer on March 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Clarification; “Now, why is H being taken down? Is fox tired of him? We know its geniune wrong doing. but what is going on? Will Glenn Beck get his time slot? or is he “untouchable”? Hmm…”

I am speaking to why and how fox and H’s radio and tv show not spend one mintue on this major issue?? it read kinda wrong, wanted to be clearer.

Rock on DS!

linda on March 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Last week he mentioned very briefly with a few comments not even mentioning that it was Hannity that a scandal was brewing on a charity that was giving money to soldiers.

This week he did mention that this issue involving Hannity taking money to give to soldiers at some later point is not much different then what Obama is doing with receiving benefits from this bill not until 2018.

Savage did post the article Debbie wrote about Hannity interviewing a very anti Jewish politician on Yom Kippur on his site. He hasn’t focused too much on it though just mentioning it in passing a few times that it isn’t much different then what Obama is doing.

Debbie has NEVER COVERED SAVAGE being banned in Britain which I don’t know why. Especially since a number Israeli politicians have also been banned. For example Moshe Feglin is banned in Britain likely from the same list so this just shows how facist Britain has become. I don’t think the Jewish people are going to be saved by a Politician but regardless this story of Savage being banned in Britain is a very disturbing story and it effects others as well who should not be banned. Moshe Feiglin shouldn’t be banned in Britain either.

adam on March 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Big Kad thats sad just because you agree with someone politically you can look past them screwing the troops and then lying about it. Thats whats wrong with the right they seem to be saying I agree with you politically I can look past other things. That totally goes against everything they claim to be. Whether I agree with someone politically or not is irrelevant when it comes to an issue like this. Debbie please don’t listen to these sheeple who are telling you to stop you are the only reason I have an internet subscription. We need you now more than ever.

tyler on March 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm

The hard working, hard thinking conservatives usually end up coming around, and it looks like you are making your way there, Debbie. Welcome to the rest of the world, where most of knew for fact that Oliver North was a huge lying crook, and Sean Hannity always has been one, as well.

For those of you who say Debbie should look past this and stay strong to support your efforts in taking down the Democrats in the upcoming elections, all I can say is, good luck with that.

The wheels are off that bus, and it looks like the Republican party and the many faces of that party, aren’t willing to do much to change it.

Keep posting, keep digging, Debbie. Thank you for what you have done to date.

Lori on March 25, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Funny how even the government says a charity is a charity only if it gives 75% or more of it’s fund raising to it’s purpose.

These guys are giving less than 5% and people want to ignore that because some con man makes you think he agrees with you politically while using veterans to make himself rich?

Seems the problem in America is not patriotism (if it was they wouldn’t be raking in millions of dollars) but the problem seems to be hero worship or more like celebrity worship. Ooohhh he is on TV he must be smart and important. OOhhh he makes me feel special so it is ok for him to steal. Seems he has more in common with jerry falwell and jim baker than just the hair.

Wake up and grow an independent mind or just keep watching American idol for whoever they tell you to worship next.

keep it up Debbie you might make some of them honest one day. Doubtful but ya gotta dream.

ender on March 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm

good research Debbie, but I have to ask why you outed the source who is married to Oliver North’s former personal assistants and one of Sean’s radio producers? Was that necessary? I’m sure her job will be toast.

rer13 on March 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

She probably outed the source so all the people who are saying she doesn’t have a named source will shut up. They made a big deal out of her having “anonymous” sources. If the producer for seans radio show knows this about sean and is a good person she probably won’t mind being fired by a lying low life like vannity.

tyler on March 25, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Please read more carefully. This person was not outed; she was identified by Debbie as a witness. This does not mean that she was the source of the information, only a witness, presumably identified as such by someone else.

Little Al on March 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm

There was an article in The Reader’s Digest years ago, explaining that Colonel North was, essentially, a scam artist, and advising the sweet old dears who read that magazine not to give him any money. It’s been known for a while that North is neither decent nor honorable.

Jean Martin on March 26, 2010 at 12:20 am

Debbie, keep bringing out the facts and figures. Hannity has a likeable but slimy personality and people don’t like to think they may have been duped.(think Obama) Facts and Figures make it all clear. Keep up the good work!!

bobby99 on March 26, 2010 at 12:56 am

You are a great American. You have been hannitized.

Christopher Nelson on March 26, 2010 at 1:17 am

Shame on anyone who couldn’t see through North 25 years ago. Its easy to see the conservative movement is phony since is a sham and its going to take a grass roots effort to derail the Obama-mama nighttrain. Debbie has pointed out on past poat how Fox news is part owned by Arabs about three weeks ago, so you fine everyone affiliated with Fox suspect. Since you must assume they get their talking points in each production meeting. Some people on this site need to turn off the TV and trust their instincts.

ARISHEM on March 26, 2010 at 1:23 am

Unbelievable story Debbie. Very sad if true that a man who portrays himself as a true patriot and a “great American” is only out to make a dime on the backs of our fallen heroes.

The Political Commentator

Michael Haltman on March 26, 2010 at 5:40 am

Jean, you certainly have contempt for the ‘sweet old dears’ who ‘read Readers Digest’. Just be patient; you’ll get there yourself someday.

The people of that generation were more effective than any other group in the last 100 years in fighting our totalitarian enemies, but from your context such an accomplishment is nothing to be proud of. Guess it goes along with what the liberals think of health care; screw the old people.

Little Al on March 26, 2010 at 6:26 am

At this time, only Hannity and North, etc. can clean this up or clarify. They won’t if the story gets no further. More than likely, that’s what they’re hoping for.

Great work Debbie!

P. Aaron on March 26, 2010 at 8:30 am

Debbie, you’re the original Pit Bull blogger! WOW!

Missy on March 26, 2010 at 8:50 am

Good work, seeing all the discussions back and forth above I think it is imperitive that we maintain the morale high ground and police our own ranks. Wrong is wrong, not talking about it is not going to make it go away. It needs to be owned and fixed. Thanks for bringing this to light.

Jim on March 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

Debbie, it’s time for 4 letters…FOIA…Freedom of information Act.

By the way I took a look at the list of speakers and included is Wayne Allen Root, a libertarian candidate for Vice President, also Donna Rice who brought down Gary hart in scandal, Food Police wench MeMe Roth, who is profiled many times by The Center For Consumer Freedom (

Michael Steele, the VERY WEAK chairman of the RNC

Scott Rasmussen, founder of the Rasmussen polls.

Olympic Ice Skater Scott Hamilton

Son of President Reagan Michael Reagan.

Bob Porrazzo on March 26, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Bob, busybody gnat Meme Roth is prolly in heaven right now, what with Michelle Antoinette’s obesity nagging and BozObama’s Obamacare. We’ll be seeing more of that yobo, for sure!

    Skunky on March 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

Will these articles stop if you get a call from these people offering you money to go away?

ebayer on March 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm”

I don’t think Debbie would like playing Deal or No Deal (or even Let’s Make A Deal for that matter) with THAT much on the line.

Bob Porrazzo on March 26, 2010 at 9:21 am

debbie — i’m surprised the msm hasn’t picked this up yet to pummel the hell out of hannity (as a “conservertive” poster boy)?!

howardroark on March 26, 2010 at 10:37 am

“conservative”… oops, sorry about the typo. duh.

howardroark on March 26, 2010 at 10:51 am

Debbie, don’t worry about how naive you were about Oliver North. I’ve have been duped by him for quite a while also. I wonder what the disabled vets will say to him now that this is out in the open.

I don’t think I can call him Lt. Colonel any more. This is such a disgrace that he doesn’t deserve that title any more. Just call him Mr. North.

Jarhead on March 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

It is once again a cautionary tale. One should never fall in love with a public figure, or their persona on television. Even good people are imperfect, so why worship those with feet of clay?

Worry01 on March 26, 2010 at 11:11 am

Despite nostalgia, Ray-gun, Ollie North, et al., were among the first predatory, faux conservatives who created this atmosphere of liberalism ripe for picking by the neo-lib anti-Semites and socialist-leaning scum politicians we have today. People deserve the government they get.

DS_ROCKS! on March 26, 2010 at 11:35 am

Can’t wait for the next update, Debbie. Do you think Vannity is up to some shenanigans like Tiger Woods?

J: Yes. But I don’t think it. I know it. DS

Jarhead on March 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

The best way to go after these folks and find out if they are doing good or bad things is probably to start looking into CURRENT concerts, rallies, and book signings.

I KNOW, for a fact, that many of these famous people are gluing themselves to the TEA movement, in order to keep the cash coming in from unsuspecting “patriots” (TEA Partiers).

Here in Kansas City, there are three events being advertised in association with TEA in the next five weeks. One is a not-for-profit legitimate TEA event, on Tax Day.

The OTHER TWO, advertised FAR MORE (one is a Hannity event, with others, and the second is a Palin event), are HUGE FOR-PROFIT events, but NO ONE is disclosing that up front. For the two events combined, I’m estimating OVER $3 million in ticket sales alone (does not include book sales or donations), and NO ONE can tell me where that CASH is going…after considerable questioning!

It’s a great place to investigate. I can’t, because I’m getting over a throat surgery that limits my movements and my ability to talk on phone. But it’s a ripe opportunity to expose the game. Debbie – I think this would be a REAL opportunity – don’t know how else to say it.

BobHaze on March 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I was just looking up stuff on Hannity and found this column from March 2007 which is titled “Is Sean Hannity Catholic”. He supposedly is.

It basically says no, he is not a Catholic. I wonder if Vannity goes to church every week and confesses his breaking the 7th Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Steal. This could be considered a mortal sin because of how much money he has taken from our poor wounded warriors who have needed the help that was promised to them.

In the article, it also has the text of a priest interviewing Hannity, and because of Sean’s stance on birth control, the priest would deny Hannity communion. Remember when the Republicans pummeled John F-ing Kerry about the same situation concerning the sanctity of life? Sean’s gotta be saying at least 100 rosaries a day.

J: Given what I know of Sean’s behavior, I can understand why he favors birth control. DS

Jarhead on March 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Have any of the soldiers this charity is supposed to help weighed in on this yet?

Tempus Fugit on March 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Debbie has done a fine it is up to us readers to get the message out. Email and post a link to this story…

Webling on March 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Sean Hannity: “Gee Whiz Debbie at 4:15pm today I said some real glowing things about our support for Isreal. Please dont expose my fraud so I can still get paid. I studiously pointed out how this administration is alienating Isreal with its policies.”

ARISHEM on March 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Anyone interested in spreading this message about vannity should go to tv by the numbers there are a ton of fox news drones over there spewing there typical your a liberal moron kind of crap. Check it out.

tyler on March 26, 2010 at 7:15 pm

If anyone can back me up (I think it would be funny as hell to see there reactions to more than one person saying this) you have to click on cable news and then scroll down to the comments. My screen name if fox news is a joke.

tyler on March 26, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Debbie, great reporting. You have good background and I’d love it to become a series of investigative reporting culminating in full disclosure by charity. Good people give to this charity and go to the shows thinking they’re helping soldiers in the long run they’re helping Hannity live large. Creeps me out like Imus and his cancer ranch. Wish we could see you on the news exposing this for what it is.

P.S. Used to hear you on Howard and always enjoyed your calls.

Lucy on March 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I love how knee-jerk Hannity’s supporters are. They have not read the article because they keep siting the Charity Navigator site even though you mentioned it in the article. I only wish you could get the cushy radio job and the millions he gets for your hard work. You do more for the country and conservatism in a day than he has ever done. We conservatives need to clean our house before moving forward. This is a good start.

inmateprof on March 27, 2010 at 1:37 am

J: Yes. But I don’t think it. I know it. DS

J: Given what I know of Sean’s behavior, I can understand why he favors birth control. DS

Do tell. Eh, actually I’m not surprised. He has a lot of young women on his television and radio show.

inmateprof on March 27, 2010 at 1:44 am

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