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Senator Introduces Bill That Would Open Red Cross To Outside Oversight

Sen. Charles Grassley has introduced legislation that would force the Red Cross to open its books for examination.

Last year, NPR and ProPublica reported on the American Red Cross' nearly $500 million of spending in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, finding "a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success."

After that reporting, Grassley, R-Iowa, launched his own investigation into the practices of the charity. After months of inquiry, Grassley said he was unsatisfied with the charity's responses, saying in a statement, "I have a lot more questions for the Red Cross."

Now he's asking the Senate to force the nonprofit to reveal the details of its finances, as ProPublica's Justin Elliott reports:

"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.

"As we've documented, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern tried unsuccessfully to kill a GAO investigation into the group's disaster response efforts. The charity's pushback, which included questioning the GAO's authority, helped to curtail the scope of the investigation."

"A similar bill was introduced last year in the House by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss," Elliott notes.

You can read more about the newly proposed legislation over at ProPublica, and catch up on NPR and ProPublica's investigation into the Red Cross here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.

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