Posted 11-09-2001 at 10:25:22
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AMERICAN RED CROSS MUST COUGH UP THE BUCKS
It’s time for the American Red Cross to wake up and smell the coffee.
Its credibility and its future are on the line. Either it sends all the money to the survivors of the victims of the September 11 atrocities, or it loses the trust of the American people.
What’s going on?
Well, in one of the great outpourings of generosity in American history, more than a billion dollars were donated in the wake of terrible terrorist attacks. About half those dollars ended up in the coffers of the American Red Cross.
And the problem is, they’re staying there. At least 200 million of them are. Two hundred million donated dollars siphoned off by the Red Cross for its own use.
Which is one of the biggest cases of sticky fingers you’re ever going to see.
And officials of the American Red Cross aren’t ashamed of it. Rather, they’re proud of it, defending it as a service they are offering the country. Essentially, they’ve stolen our money and now they want us to thank them for it.
Instead of sending the money to survivors of New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, the American Red Cross is keeping a Fort Knox-sized cut of the loot to fund future programs. The organization says it needs to, in case of future terrorist attacks.
Which is all well and good.
Except for the fraud.
And that’s what it is when money is collected under false pretenses. And every dollar that doesn’t go to directly relieve the victims of September 11 is a dollar fraudulently collected.
By the American Red Cross.
Which is about as serious an indictment as you can make against a charity. Because skimming by any other name is still skimming.
And the fact the American Red Cross is misappropriating this money in the name of doing good works is irrelevant.
And arrogant and typical.
But it is still wrong.
And the American public is onto them.
Those dollars were donated for one reason: To benefit the families of people killed on September 11. America saw the suffering and wanted to help.
The sentiment of all those donors was expressed last night by the president of the United States when he said more than a billion dollars had been collected to be sent “to the victims’ families.”
And if that’s where the president said the money was supposed to go, I’d suggest that the American Red Cross make sure that it gets there.
And this weekend it will have the chance.
Maybe it’s last chance.
Because if the American Red Cross fails in its duty to get donations where they were intended to go, then maybe the American people should abandon it.
Maybe they should cut it and its programs out of their lives. Maybe they should cut it and its programs out of their budgets.
And maybe the American Red Cross needs to drink deeply from the cup of humility. Maybe it needs to look to its roots as a service organization built upon human service and good deeds. Clara Barton tended the wounded, but the organization she founded is now best known for collecting money – from government contracts and from charitable contributions.
And it can start by getting this money where it belongs. Every dollar of it. It can start by opening its coffers and its books and proving that it has not kept one dollar of this money for itself, its programs or for any sort of purported future use.
And if it fails to, the law must wade in.
Either the Congress, or the Justice Department.
And there must be accountability. And if that includes civil or criminal legal action, so be it.
If the American Red Cross must be saved from itself, so be it.
Because the most valuable commodity the American Red Cross has or offers is trust, and its actions since September 11 have jeopardized that trust. The American Red Cross must move immediately to save its good name, and that will only happen by a reversal of its decision to keep what George W. Bush has called “the victims’ families” money.
Here’s hoping the American Red Cross does the right thing.