The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which slammed the Bush administration for its allegedly slow and racially insensitive response to Hurricane Katrina, has yet to spend any of the estimated $400,000 that it raised for the victims of the Aug. 29 storm.
“We are collecting all the way up through the very end of the year and then our board has set aside a committee who is going to administer the funds,” Patty Rice, spokeswoman for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday. The Foundation is an offshoot of the Congressional Black Caucus and was founded in 1976.
In the days immediately following the hurricane, with parts of the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline demolished and the city of New Orleans under water as a result of broken levees, members of the Congressional Black Caucus condemned the Bush administration’s handling of storm relief efforts.
“We have witnessed something shockingly awful and that is the lack of response, the quick response, from our government to those Americans who are suffering [and] who are dying,” said U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., (D-Ill.) on Sept. 2, four days after Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), also present at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Sept. 2 news conference, declared that she was “ashamed of America.”
“I’m ashamed of our government. We don’t want another Iraq, where the money just goes off somewhere. This is real human need. And I’m outraged by the lack of response from our federal government,” Kilpatrick said
The CBCF then launched its own relief fund on Sept. 21, with a stated goal of raising $1 million to help Gulf Coast residents rebuild their lives. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the CBCF claimed immediate success, telling reporters on Sept. 21 that it had already received $700,000 in corporate pledges.
But on Wednesday, exactly three months after the news conference launching the CBCF relief fund, Rice told Cybercast News Service that the Foundation has actually raised “somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 to $400,000.” She added that the distribution of the money would not begin until January or February of 2006 at the earliest.
Ken Boehm, chairman of the conservative National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a group that monitors charitable giving, was quick to criticize the CBCF.
“It sounds like the CBCF has been stressing the immediacy of the [victims’] needs when they raised the money and yet for some reason when it comes time to dishing it out they can’t seem to get organized,” Boehm told Cybercast News Service.
“The need is immediate and ongoing as they themselves have cited. For whatever reasons they have failed to give away a single cent as of the week before Christmas,” Boehm said. “It appears that the CBCF has failed to meet the standard that it set up itself for: timely aid to Katrina victims.”