Red Cross: How we spent Sandy money is a trade secret
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Salon/ProPublica
Posted: July 7th, 2014
Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy? The charity has hired [law firm Gibson Dunn] to fight a public request [ProPublica] filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a trade secret. The Red Cross trade secret argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though its not clear yet how much since the documents havent yet been released. The Red Cross releases few details about how it spends money after big disasters. That makes it difficult to figure out whether donor dollars are well spent. An attorney from [Gibson Dunn] appealed to the attorney general to block disclosure of some of the Sandy information, citing the state Freedom of Information Laws trade secret exemption. Doug White, a nonprofit expert who directs the fundraising management program at Columbia University, said that its possible for nonprofits to have trade interests the logo of a university, for example but its not clear what a trade secret would be in the case of the Red Cross. He called the lawyers letter an apparent delaying tactic. Ben Smilowitz of the Disaster Accountability Project, a watchdog group, said, Invoking a trade secret exemption is not something you would expect from an organization that purports to be transparent and accountable.
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