Grassley Seeks Details on Red Cross Refusal to Comply With Inquiry

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) is demanding more information about the "apparent unwillingness" of the American Red Cross "to fully cooperate" with a government investigation into its disaster relief work, ProPublica reports.

In a letter dated September 28, Grassley asked Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office, for a list of materials the Red Cross has refused to provide to investigators; the names and titles of Red Cross officials GAO contacted and those who failed to cooperate, along with the requests they ignored; and communications in which the relief organization explained its reasons for not cooperating.

Released in September following an eighteen-month inquiry requested by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, the GAO report found that "no regular, independent evaluations are conducted of the impact or effectiveness of the Red Cross's disaster services." Andrew Sherrill, who headed the inquiry, told ProPublica and National Public Radio that while the Red Cross did not give "unfettered access" to investigators, GAO was able to obtain the information it needed. In 2014, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern sent a letter to Thompson asking him to end the inquiry and, instead, to call her directly with any questions.

Separately, Grassley is pursuing questions about how the Red Cross spent nearly half a billion dollars donated after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

"The lack of transparency is a cause for concern as the Red Cross is a federal instrumentality created by Congressional charter and receives millions of dollars every year from donors across the country," wrote Grassley. "As such, the Red Cross should have shared as much information as possible in order for GAO to perform a complete and thorough study. In addition, the Red Cross has a duty to the American people and the donor community to be as open and transparent as possible."