New York Attorney General's Proposal Criticized by Charity Officials

Drawing sharp criticism at a recent meeting with more than a dozen charitable organizations, New York State attorney general Eliot L Spitzer proposed that all recipients of aid related to the attacks on the World Trade Center be listed in a single database along with the amount of aid received to help ensure that relief and recovery funds were properly and fairly distributed, the New York Times reports.

The American Red Cross, the nation's largest disaster relief organization, rejected the idea, fearing potential violations of individuals' privacy. "People will not come to us if they think that we are going to put their names in some big database," said Red Cross president Dr. Bernadine Healy. Healy added that her organization's files would "not be shared under any circumstances."

According to the Times, $555 million had been pledged to the five most visible funds disaster relief funds as of September 26, including $200 million to the Red Cross, $120 million to the United Way's September 11th Fund, and $70 million to the city's Twin Towers Fund , which helps the families of dead and missing firefighters, police officers, and other emergency services personnel.

Spitzer also proposed creating a database of the programs and priorities of all the charities assisting victims of the disaster. Such a database, Spitzer said, would help charities to direct their individual efforts more wisely — an argument that drew strong support from many of the philanthropic professionals in attendance, including representatives of the Salvation Army, the New York City Central Labor Council, the Robin Hood Foundation, the New York City Police Foundation, and the Black United Fund of New York.

David Barstow. "Plan to List Who Receives Disaster Aid Stirs Concern" New York Times 09/25/2001.