Senator Chuck Grassley is urging the Red Cross to be more forthright about its fundraising efforts after complaints concerning the money that’s being raised for Iowa tornado victims. Critics say the Red Cross is getting donations from people who want the money to go to tornado victims in Parkersburg and other Iowa towns hit by the May 25th twister, but some of that money will be directed to other disasters.
"A lot of people are upset because there’s conflicting story both on the fundraising end as well who’s eligible and who isn’t, what the money’s being used for," Grassley says, "and an organization that does so much good, what they need to do is just keep their good reputation unblemished."
Grassley points to a news release sent out Monday announcing the Red Cross had reached its fundraising goal for the Iowa tornado victims. But the very next day a concert was held on the University of Northern Iowa campus and proceeds went to the Red Cross, to be used for the tornado response. "I’m just trying to point out that some of their lack of transparency, lack of communication and maybe the left hand not knowing what the right hand’s doing is a problem that’s a needless problem," Grassley says.
Grassley has contacted the national office of the Red Cross and voiced his concerns. Maryann Sinkler is a local spokeswoman for the Red Cross. "The Red Cross is an organization of integrity," she says. "…We’re, you know, a humanitarian organization that’s been in existence, you know, for a long, long time and people can trust us to do the right thing." According to Sinkler, half the proceeds of the benefit concert on Tuesday were directed to a relief fund set up at the Lincoln Savings Bank in Aplington once it became clear the Red Cross had reached its fundraising goal.
This isn’t the first time Grassley has raised concerns about the Red Cross. In February of 2006, Grassley chided the Red Cross for its response to Hurricane Katrina and stuck up for whistleblowers who complained the organization had wasted food and other resources. Grassley also pressed for management changes at the Red Cross in 2005.