If you can't trust the American Red Cross who can you trust?


tay
#1
Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy?

The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request we filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a "trade secret."




The Red Cross' "trade secret" argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though it's not clear yet how much since the documents haven't yet been released.

As we've reported, the Red Cross releases few details about how it spends money after big disasters. That makes it difficult to figure out whether donor dollars are well spent.

The Red Cross did give some information about Sandy spending to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had been investigating the charity. But the Red Cross declined our request to disclose the details.

So we filed a public records request for the information the Red Cross provided to the attorney general's office.

That's where the law firm Gibson Dunn comes in.

An attorney from the firm's New York office appealed to the attorney general to block disclosure of some of the Sandy information, citing the state Freedom of Information Law's trade secret exemption.

The documents include "internal and proprietary methodology and procedures for fundraising, confidential information about its internal operations, and confidential financial information," wrote Gabrielle Levin of Gibson Dunn in a letter to the attorney general's office.

If those details were disclosed, "the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross's business model for an increased competitive advantage," Levin wrote.

The letter doesn't specify who the Red Cross' "competitors" are.

The Red Cross is a public charity and occupies a unique place responding to disasters alongside the federal government.

Among the sections of the documents the Red Cross wanted redacted was "a two-line title" at the top of a page, one line of which was "American Red Cross."

The attorney general's office denied that redaction, writing that it "can not find disclosure of this two line title will cause the Red Cross any economic injury."

Asked about the effort to have Sandy materials kept secret, Red Cross spokeswoman Anne Marie Borrego told ProPublica: "We sought to keep confidential a small part of the letter [sent to the AG] that provided proprietary information important to maintaining our ability to raise funds and fulfill our mission."

Doug White, a nonprofit expert who directs the fundraising management program at Columbia University, said that it's possible for nonprofits to have trade interests the logo of a university, for example but it's not clear what a "trade secret" would be in the case of the Red Cross. He called the lawyer's letter an apparent "delaying tactic."

Ben Smilowitz of the Disaster Accountability Project, a watchdog group, said,

"Invoking a 'trade secret' exemption is not something you would expect from an organization that purports to be 'transparent and accountable.'"

In agreeing to withhold some details, the attorney general's office found that portions of the documents the charity wanted to redact "describe business strategies, internal operational procedures and decisions, and the internal deliberations and decision-making processes that affect fundraising and the allocation of donations."

The attorney general's office also found "that this information is proprietary and constitutes trade secrets, and that its disclosure would cause the Red Cross economic injury and put the Red Cross at an economic disadvantage."

Another section the Red Cross wanted redacted was a paragraph that noted the charity's "willingness to meet with the [Office of the Attorney General.]" The attorney general's office denied that part of the request

Borrego, the Red Cross spokeswoman, declined to say how much the charity is paying Gibson Dunn but said, "we do not use funds restricted to Superstorm Sandy to cover those expenses."

We'll let you know when we get the documents we asked for at least the parts that aren't trade secrets.



http://www.propublica.org/article/red-cross-how-we-spent-sandy-money-is-a-trade-secret





Related articles: Read our other coverage about how the Red Cross' post-storm spending on Sandy is a black box.


http://www.propublica.org/article/long-after-sandy-red-cross-post-storm-spending-still-a-black-box
 
BaalsTears
+1
#2
Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofits are an industry in America. The idea of being an altruistic charitable institution has all too often been abandoned.
 
Spade
#3
I trust the Canadian Red Cross. I don't know swat about the American Red Cross. Regardless, I felt compelled to comment.
 
Sal
+1
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by SpadeView Post

I trust the Canadian Red Cross. I don't know swat about the American Red Cross. Regardless, I felt compelled to comment.

now that they don't deal in blood, I would say the same
 
gopher
+1
#5
ARC and other "charities" escape government scrutiny all too often. More oversight is needed but, unfortunately, these institutions are controlled by wealthy elites and that means government keeps a hands off policy on them. This never stops them from pleading poverty every year and soaking people for more money. And it's a good bet much of that $$$ is being pocketed by those wealth elites.
 
Walter
#6
I prefer giving to the Sally Ann and my church. Not that they are perfect but rather them than the gubmint and I'd give to the Red Cross before most other charities.
 
Kreskin
#7
The Red Cross does a lot. The corp I work for donates money and people to it. I don't think they would if it wasn't a good organization.
 
gopher
+2
#8  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

The Red Cross does a lot. The corp I work for donates money and people to it. I don't think they would if it wasn't a good organization.


There can be no question that it does a lot of good. But as it is written in the Bible, many a sin is hidden in charity. I forget which of the James Bond movies it was but one begins in a British charity where good deeds are done. Then, the camera takes us into a behind the scenes meeting where evil doers are plotting mischief. Sadly, this is true of many (certainly not all) charitable groups whose good activities often are a public front which masks unwholesome activity.
 
Goober
+1 / -1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by SpadeView Post

I trust the Canadian Red Cross. I don't know swat about the American Red Cross. Regardless, I felt compelled to comment.

They spent millions defending themselves in the blood fiasco.
They can eat crap as far as I am concerned
 
Sal
+1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

They spent millions defending themselves in the blood fiasco.
They can eat crap as far as I am concerned

that thing was a balls up Hep C and AIDs tainted blood...what a fiasco

anyone who'd received blood was freaking
 
taxslave
+1
#11
Charities have "competitors. MAYHAPS THEY NEED A DICTIONARY TO RELEARN WHAT CHARITY MEANS.
 
SLM
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

Charities have "competitors. MAYHAPS THEY NEED A DICTIONARY TO RELEARN WHAT CHARITY MEANS.

Of course they have competitors, they have to compete for your donation dollar. According to the latest info available on Wikipedia, there are more than 85,600 registered charities in Canada....and I don't know when that was last updated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charita...s_%28Canada%29

And those are just the ones that can issue donation receipts.
Last edited by SLM; 3 weeks ago at 08:46 AM..Reason: Forgot the link
 

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