Senate Bill Would Force Red Cross to Open Books to Outside Oversight

Source: Justin Elliot, ProPublica, July 6, 2016

Legislation introduced in the Senate today would open the American Red Cross to outside oversight that it has long resisted. The bill was introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, following a lengthy investigation by his staff that raised questions about the charity’s spending after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and documented how Red Cross leaders resisted an earlier congressional inquiry. … Grassley’s American Red Cross Transparency Act, would amend the group’s congressional charter to allow unfettered access to its records and personnel by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The Red Cross operates as a private nonprofit but was created by Congress over 100 years ago and has a mandated role to work alongside the federal government after disasters. … If Grassley’s bill becomes law, the GAO would have the power to obtain documents from the Red Cross related to its internal governance and disaster response programs. If the Red Cross were to resist such a request, the GAO would have the power to subpoena the charity and take it to court, if necessary. The bill would also take steps to empower the Red Cross’ internal investigative unit, which Grassley’s staff found to be severely undermanned and underused. The unit has just three staffers and requests for more have gone unfulfilled. The bill would remove the unit from under the authority of the general counsel and put it under the control of the charity’s board of governors. …