Radio’s irascible Don Imus went on the warpath yesterday over questions being raised about the charity he runs for sick children at his New Mexico ranch.
Investigators from the New York Attorney General’s Office have been reviewing allegations that the cranky talk-show host has been using the 4,000-acre ranch for personal getaways.
Although he took issue with the inquiry, Imus aimed his angriest venom at The Wall Street Journal for a story he described as “a hatchet job” and its author, whom he called “a dishonest punk.”
“They should be ashamed of themselves,” Imus told his morning listeners.
Expenses at the ranch totaled nearly $2.6 million, according to tax papers, but the ranch hosted only about 100 children, the Journal said.
Imus and his family, meanwhile, stay at the ranch for weeks at a time ” he was broadcasting from there yesterday ” without reimbursing the charity for the visits.
Imus maintained that he runs the ranch while he is there and saves money by not paying a director. As for using the ranch as a vacation spot, Imus says he has a $24 million waterfront estate in Westport, Conn., that suits his vacation needs just fine.
Imus, who wears 10-gallon hats while on the air, ranted about the scrutiny for more than half his show, denying that he takes advantage of the ranch for personal use.
He said that during the holiday season when he was there last year, he never even got on a horse.
“I’d close [the ranch] down before I’d pay to stay here,” Imus said. “That’s insane.”
Imus’ charity drew the attention of New York investigators when the organization failed to file its income-tax exemption forms on time, said Darren Dopp, a spokesman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Sources said such delays, while routine, are often red flags, as was the anonymous letter Spitzer’s office received about Imus’ ranch visits and the charity’s high dollar-to-child ratio.
We have it on good authority (well, Tom Greenwood) that Imus has an Imelda-like fetish for high end track shoes. Perhaps Eliot Spizer can see if the I-Man has been moving charity dough to the account of Paragon Sports?