Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Red Cross Gets Caught Again. This Time For Attempting To Kill Federal Investigation

by Gary Snyder


The Government Accounting Office last year started a Congressional inquiry into the Red Cross’ federally mandated role responding to disasters and whether the group gets enough oversight.

American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern wanted no such investigation so she asked Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. the ranking member of the homeland security committee to kill it. McGovern suggested that, in lieu of the investigation, the congressman call her directly with questions. She provided her personal cell phone number.

Thompson criticized McGovern’s request to spike the investigation.“Over time, the public has come to accept the American Red Cross as a key player in the nation’s system for disaster relief,” he said. “It is unfortunate that in light of numerous allegations of mismanagement, the American Red Cross would shun accountability, transparency and simple oversight."

One veteran observer of congressional investigations said he couldn’t remember another instance in which the subject of a GAO inquiry asked for the inquiry to be called off.

The GAO inquiry continued despite McGovern’s appeal. The agency’s final report is expected to be released next month, according to a GAO spokesman.

McGovern’s effort echoes other instances in which the Red Cross has resisted requests for more information about its work. Last year, the Red Cross fought a ProPublica public records request about its Superstorm Sandy response by hiring a law firm and citing “trade secrets.” (The group later reversed its stance.)

The Red Cross has also declined to detail its spending in response to the Haiti earthquake. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, recently questioned the Red Cross for including rules barring the release of financial information in its Haiti contracts.



American Red Cross’ CEO McGovern has long portrayed her organization as a beacon of openness, once declaring “we made a commitment that we want to lead the effort in transparency.” (propublica)




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