Charity: 'Big Brother's Adam Jasinski an ex-staffer, worked 3 months
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/26/2008
Adam Jasinski's "PR work" for a Florida-based autism foundation was apparently a three-month stint that ended before he even entered the Big Brother: 'Til Death Do You Part house.
While CBS has been billing Jasinski as a "public relations manager for a charity group," United Autism Foundation founder Olaf Hampel claims the Big Brotherninth-season houseguest was only employed for three months and hasn't worked for the nonprofit organization since January, the South Florida Sun-Sentinelreported Saturday.
Hampel told the Sun-Sentinel he shut down the 9-month-old charity's Fort Lauderdale office in January and is "debating" whether to reopen it after the "negative publicity" that has resulted from CBS' February 13 broadcast of a Big Brother episode in which Jasinski called people with autism "retards."
"I do PR work for an autism foundation," Jasinski told his perfect-match partner Sheila Kennedy and several other houseguests. "I want to do a hair salon for kids with special needs so retards can get it together and get their hair done."
"Don't call them that!" scolded Kennedy.
"Disabled kids. I can call them whatever I want!" Jasinski fired back. "I work with them all day, okay?"
A businessman and former NFL player, Hampel founded the United Autism Foundation [UNIAF] in May 2007 with the goal of funding the construction of a $10 million dental center for autistic children. He told the Sun-Sentinel that during its nine months of operation, the foundation has raised less than $6,000 from outside contributors and has run largely on his own donations, which have totaled more than $200,000.
United Autism's website was also apparently supposed to come down when the foundation's office closed last month, however the charity's webmaster seemed to instead decide to replace it with a fan site for Jasinski while he's competing onBig Brother. As recently as last Monday the website contained numerous photos of Jasinski, all of which have since been removed.
Last Friday morning, the New York-based Autism United organization held a press conference outside the Broward County Courthouse, according to the Sun-Sentinel, with autism advocates questioning the purpose of the UNIAF website since it made no mention of the group's board of directors or officers.
In addition, Autism United president Evelyn Ain asked Attorney General Bill McCollum to launch an inquiry into the UNIAF's legitimacy as a nonprofit organization.
"We make no claims about the [United Autism Foundation], its officers or directors," Ain told the Sun-Sentinel. "UNIAF may be a fine organization that has been dragged into an unfortunate situation by an association with an irresponsible individual and an even more irresponsible [television] network. We believe that the many unusual and unconventional aspects of the UNIAF calls for a closer examination by the proper authorities."
"[The Attorney General's Office will be] more than happy to review the information and allegations pertaining to Mr. Jasinski and his organization to determine what jurisdiction may apply," the office said in a brief statement, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Hampel has already apologized for Jasinski's comments, which he characterized as "irresponsible, misleading and unprofessional."
"I am more than happy to talk to any and every authority since I have not done anything wrong," Hampel wrote Friday via email, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "Is it illegal to help families and support their children?"
Last week, Autism United executive director John Gilmore demanded an apology from CBS over Jasinski's remarks and also asked the long-running reality series be canceled. So far, it has received neither.
"We certainly find the statements made by Adam to be offensive, but believe they were countered by the immediate reaction of shock and condemnation from a fellow houseguest, Sheila," CBS said in a statement released last week. "Adam's remarks would not have been permitted to air unchallenged."
Ain told the Sun-Sentinel that Autism United plans to hold a similar news conference in New York City this week to "condemn" CBS for broadcasting Jasinski's comments.