Grassley Encourages Quick, Fair Charity Relief for Sept. 11 Victims
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, today encouraged the federal agencies with a role in overseeing charities to help ensure that charities provide quick, fair relief for the victims of Sept. 11. Grassley wrote a letter to four federal agencies and the New York and Virginia attorney generals. The text of his letter follows.
October 30, 2001
Via Regular Mail and Telefax
The Honorable John D. Ashcroft
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
The Honorable Charles O. Rossotti
Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20224
The Honorable Joe M. Allbaugh
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
The Honorable Timothy J. Muris
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
6th & Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
The Honorable Eliot Spitzer
New York State Attorney General
Albany, NY 12224-0341
The Honorable Randolph A. Beales
Attorney General of Virginia
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Re: Oversight of 9-11 Relief Funds Distribution
As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance (Committee), I am committed to
help ensure that charitable contributions to United States-based charities are timely distributed to
qualified recipients. I am particularly resolute at this time given the unprecedented amount of
donations intended to help victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This spirit of
patriotic giving is praiseworthy, and I encourage people to continue making contributions to various
September 11 funds set up nationwide. At this juncture, I am not aware of any inappropriate act by
a charity or inappropriate use of a donation intended for the September 11 victims. I write to better
understand how your agencies are coordinating to oversee that charities deliver monetary relief
judiciously and with due speed.
To date, more than 200 charities have received donations from around the world that now
approach $1 billion. However, according to Business Week (October 29, 2001; page 58), only about
10 percent of the money raised has been distributed so far. And, no mechanism exists to prevent
these charities from making duplicate payments to one recipient or to prevent someone eligible to
receive relief from falling through the cracks.
To encourage the American people to continue making charitable donations in response to
the September 11 attacks, it is necessary for your organizations to pool your resources and work
together to oversee the fair and expeditious distribution of these donations by the relief effort groups
to the intended recipients. It is also important that your agencies coordinate to identify any
unscrupulous actors and help bring them to justice.
Accordingly, I appreciate your responses to the following questions. Also, I request that you
supplement your answers as information becomes available to you.
1. Describe how your agencies are coordinating to oversee the fair and timely distribution of
charitable donations raised in response to the September 11 attacks to their intended recipients.
Describe any criteria used by your agencies collectively, or by your agency individually, to determine
what is a fair and timely distribution. Please produce any documents relevant to your response.
2. Is there any one, central agency or organization that serves as a clearinghouse for all
charitable relief efforts, particularly to provide information to victims’ families? If so, identify that
entity and explain the details of its functions. If not, explain why not and whether you intend to
establish a central clearinghouse of this nature.
3. What steps, if any, are you taking to ensure that all charities soliciting and receiving donations
for September 11 relief efforts are legitimate and are disbursing funds? Your reply should list specific
oversight steps you are taking in this regard. These oversight steps might include but are not limited
to checking charity employees for criminal backgrounds, tax violations, and bankruptcies. If you are
not exercising any such oversight, explain why not and when you plan to begin.
4. Describe how your agencies are coordinating to minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the
5. Describe whether your agency has in any way changed its practices regarding the approval,
audit, or sanctioning of charities after the September 11 attacks.
6. Identify any charity that your agency has censured since September 11, explain the reason for
and nature of the censure, and state whether any criminal or administrative charges are pending
against that charity.
7. For the agencies other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): State whether you are
receiving sufficient taxpayer information and information about charities related to September 11
relief efforts from the IRS to adequately assess a victim’s needs for monetary relief and to determine
the legitimacy of any such charity.
8. The New York State Attorney General, the American Red Cross, and the September 11th
Fund, which was established by the United Way and New York Community Trust, have agreed in
principle to participate in a confidential, shared data base that will track applications for assistance
by victims of the attack. In addition to this database, state whether your agencies have any shared
database for any purpose related to the September 11 attacks or relief effort. If not, explain why not.
If so, please identify:
a. The purpose of the database;
b. The nature of the information in the database;
c. Who has access; and
d. Whether other private or governmental organizations will have access in the future. If so,
please identify those organizations.
9. I appreciate any information you can provide, even if you did not generate the information,
regarding the following:
a. The amount of money raised since September 11;
b. The charities distributing these funds;
c. The amount that has been distributed to date;
d. The amount of funds that is not directly going for victim relief but for another purpose (i.e.,
administrative costs or marketing fees);
e. The intended recipients;
f. The amount each recipient of the World Trade Center or Pentagon attacks has received to
g. Any distribution timetable; and
h. The amount each victim of the World Trade Center or Pentagon attacks will receive in total.
Given the timeliness of this information, I appreciate your providing me with your responses
by November 16, 2001.
Charles E. Grassley
cc: The Honorable Max Baucus, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
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