Nashville legend Merle Haggard has sued environmental awareness group the Green Train for illegally using his name and forging his signature in an effort to collect donations. The group claims to have been founded by Haggard himself along with Bob Wolf.
Haggard says that Bob Wolf asked him for support on a non-profit project in 2007 and Haggard obliged with a $20,000 donation. However, the organization never attained nor attempted to gain non-profit status, said the director of Tennessee’s Divicision of Charitable Solicitiations and Gaming.
A quick look at the Green Train website through Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine, it’s clear that The Green Train has some explaining to do:
It’s “Last Call” and we can’t afford to let down the future,
Here’s the pledge from our founders Hag and Wolf. We pledge to provide you with real, researched information gathered from the world’s leading organizations and spokespeople on the environment.This website will provide links to those organizations to give us all the best answers to many of our questions and concerns. It will help teach us new practices. We pledge to maintain the same standards this project asks each and every other human being to do. Be as kind to the environment as is possible. Why? For us, Millions of young eyes are watching us as examples from around the globe. Do you want to be the one to tell them, we let you down! Educate and promote awareness and have a message that carries on, Having fun doing it, that just adds to the excitement and makes you want to do it forever!!
Join us on “The Green Train Europa 2009” and “The Green Train Global 2010”!! The everlasting message of GREEN!
Haggard is suing the group for “exaggerating” his involvement in the organization, but it is unclear what his actual role has been. Many sources reported that Haggard was indeed making a green tour through 28 states this April, including Variety, NBC, and the Sundance Channel.
Haggard maintains that his only involvement with the group has been the $20,000 donation and attendance at a $1,000-per-person luncheon to benefit the project on June 25th. Otherwise he says he has never given permission for them to use their likeness.
The Green Train website no longer lists Haggard as a founder or supporter, but they still claim that Jewel, Willie Nelson, Cher, the Dave Matthews Band and many other artists “support” the project. Regardless, I’d recommend sending your money elsewhere.
Image: Nester on Flickr under Creative Commons license.