July 09,2008

Grassley Continues Oversight of Smithsonian, Red Cross; Meets with Each New Leader


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: Meetings with new Smithsonian Institution, American Red Cross leaders
Da: Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, met separately with the incoming leaders of the Smithsonian Institution and the American Red Cross over the past two weeks as part of his ongoing congressional oversight of those major tax-exempt organizations. On June 25, Grassley met with Dr. Wayne Clough, the new secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. OnJuly 8, Grassley met with Gail McGovern, the new president and chief executive officer of theAmerican Red Cross. Grassley made the following comment on those meetings.

“The Smithsonian Institution and the American Red Cross are important to the wholecountry. People visit the nation’s capital to see Smithsonian treasures. The Red Cross feeds andclothes the hungry and homeless after natural disasters, as I saw very recently in my home state ofIowa. Both organizations have gone through significant upheaval and continue to face manychallenges.

“Dr. Clough has to change a culture in which top executives and lower-level employees havereal or perceived different standards of acceptable conduct, including spending on travel and timeaway from the job. I also remain concerned about the lack of an immediate fund-raising plan sincethere doesn’t seem to be enough money to fix leaking roofs.

“Ms. McGovern has to manage fund-raising to ease the organization’s deficit while makingclear to donors of the intended use of money raised. She has to ensure that the fund-raising strategyat the Red Cross doesn’t depend on the generosity of donors responding to a national disaster. I’vereceived assurances from both Ms. McGovern and Dr. Clough that they’re committed to thegovernance reforms I’ve advocated. They each have significant experience running largeorganizations including fund-raising and so are well-qualified to restore the public’s confidence intheir respective organizations. I look forward to monitoring their progress as they work tostrengthen their organizations.”

For the last seven years, as chairman or ranking member of the tax policy-writing FinanceCommittee, Grassley has conducted oversight of tax-exempt practices. The federal governmentforgoes the collection of billions of dollars from tax-exempt groups. Americans donate to tax-exemptgroups and take deductions of those donations from their federal taxes. The federal tax code governstax-exempt groups’ practices, and the Finance Committee is responsible for evaluating theeffectiveness and efficiency of federal tax laws.