The American Red Cross raised and spent $300 million after Hurricane Sandy, but the charity doesn’t want to detail exactly how that money was spent.
Pro Publica reports this is the usual pattern for the Red Cross after major disasters. The Red Cross argues that its spending patterns are a “trade secret.” So Pro Publica filed an open-records request, trying to legally force the accounting into the open. An attorney for the law firm Gibson Dunn responded:
An attorney from the firm’s New York office appealed to the attorney general to block disclosure of some of the Sandy information, citing the state Freedom of Information Law’s trade secret exemption.
The documents include “internal and proprietary methodology and procedures for fundraising, confidential information about its internal operations, and confidential financial information,” wrote Gabrielle Levin of Gibson Dunn in a letter to the attorney general’s office.
If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,” Levin wrote.
The letter doesn’t specify who the Red Cross’ “competitors” are.
Pro Publica continues to pursue the spending records. [Mother Jones]