26.4.26 Foundation money questions loom - WKRN News 2

26.4.26 Foundation money questions loom

Posted: Updated: May 12, 2014 11:47 PM
Robbie Bruce with co-founder Ryan Grainey Robbie Bruce with co-founder Ryan Grainey
Robbie Bruce began the foundation in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012 Robbie Bruce began the foundation in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nearly a year after the Tennessee Attorney General’s office received a formal complaint alleging money raised for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was spent on personal items there are no answers being made public about whether the money was actually misspent.

Co-Founder of the 26.4.26 Foundation, Ryan Grainey, first made the complaint to the Tennessee Attorney General’s office on June 18, 2013.
In her formal complaint, Grainey wrote, “There has been misuse of foundation funds for personal purchases by Robbie Bruce.”

Bruce began the foundation in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012, writing on the non-profit’s Facebook page, “26.4.26 is the creation of an idea that became an inspirational movement in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012. The mission of 26.4.26 is to provide funding for the families of victims, memorials for teacher heroes and to increase safety in schools across the country through the efforts of the running and endurance communities in Nashville and throughout the United States.”

Grainey wrote in her complaint that she was on the board of directors and repeatedly asked for access to the bank account associated with the foundation account.

“To this date the 26.4.26 Foundation has raised $103,000, of which only $30,000 has been given out to the intended recipients,” she wrote.

She also wrote that Bruce made personal purchases from the foundation’s PayPal account which included purchases of a $1,253 paddle board and other expenses.  

Grainey declined to comment on the investigation when reached for this story.

But Grainey told News 2 in January that she raised the alarm in part because of her close relationship with the family of Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Victoria Soto.

Soto was killed in the shooting and her picture had been used as part of the foundation’s fundraising efforts.

Her family declined to comment on the continuing investigation.

On the 26.4.26 Foundation Facebook page this message was posted in December and sparked national outrage.

“Before you do your run this weekend you should know what happened to 26.4.26 and why it is no longer around.

Due to the founders (sic) transgressions and misconduct we were forced to end all ability for 26.4.26 to collect money. Especially after it was revealed that foundation money was spent on personal items.

In total, 26.4.26 raised $103,000, of which only $30,000 was handed out. The money that was raised for Boston is included in the $103,000 total, but we are not aware if that money was delivered or not.

When asked about the state of the bank account a straight answer was never given and to this day, we have not seen the bank account.

We are saddened to see this great movement come to such a crumbling and embarrassing end. We fought so hard to do good and in the end 26.4.26 was taken advantage of and for that we are sorry.”

Bruce has also not commented on the investigation, beyond a statement through his attorney Jonathan Farmer in February.

"We will cooperate fully with the inquires made by the state of Tennessee and look forward to the opportunity to do so. For the immediate future all of our communications will be with the appropriate state agencies."

News 2 has attempted to reach Bruce multiple times. We tracked him down after several weeks of searching.

When asked about the investigation Bruce did not comment beyond saying, “Sir, I haven't done anything wrong and I will talk to you guys at the appropriate time.”
 
News 2 asked, “When is that going to be sir? It has been almost a year since Ryan Grainey made the call to the Attorney General's office.”

Bruce did not comment any further before driving away.

News 2 confirmed that investigations by the Davidson County District Attorney, Tennessee Attorney General’s office, Tennessee Secretary of State and the Connecticut Attorney General are ongoing.

None of the officials with the offices would comment beyond confirming their investigations continue, per policy.

The IRS was asked to investigate at the federal level by Connecticut Senator Christopher Murphy in January.

The FBI is also reportedly investigating and had asked for information about Bruce’s whereabouts, before he released a statement that said he would cooperate with authorities.

The 26.4.26 Foundation Web site has been deactivated, but a Facebook page is still active.

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