Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein are seeking more information about the amount of money collected and the intended charitable purposes of dozens of charities related to the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Letters signed by the Attorney General and Commissioner were mailed today with a short survey to 69 charities that are registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection or that otherwise have been publically identified as having accepted donations related to the Sandy Hook tragedy, where 20 children and six adults were killed on Dec. 14, 2012.
“Consistent with the responsibilities to oversee charitable activities and fundraising in Connecticut, we are requesting information about your organization’s fundraising and charitable efforts. In all circumstances, donors need information to help make informed giving decisions and to understand the purposes for which their gifts will be used. This is particularly important – and challenging – when so much money is being raised so quickly,” the Attorney General and Commissioner wrote.
News media reports have estimated that more than $15 million has been donated to Sandy Hook-related charities since the school shooting.
“This is a voluntary request for information, but we strongly urge you to participate so this important information can be provided, through our websites or other means, to the giving public,” they wrote.
The questions being asked are:
- What is the approximate dollar amount of donations and pledges that your organization has received to date in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy?
- Will these funds be used solely for victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy? If not, approximately what portion will be used for relief for victims and what other purposes, and in what proportions, will funds be used for?
- Approximately how much has your organization spent to date related to the Sandy Hook tragedy?
- What services has your organization provided to those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy? What populations or class of victims are being served by your organization in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy? What services does it expect to provide in the future?
- Has your organization provided funding to other organizations for purposes related to the Sandy Hook tragedy? If so, which organizations have received those funds and what is the approximate dollar amount provided to them? How does your organization determine the need for funding?
- Has your organization provided, or does it intend to provide, direct financial assistance to individuals, families or businesses for Sandy Hook relief? If so, what is the approximate dollar amount that your organization has provided to date and approximately how much direct financial assistance does it expect to provide in the future? How does your organization determine the need for assistance?
- Does your organization have a plan in place on how to use any surplus funds not spent for purposes related to the Sandy Hook tragedy? If so, please describe that plan.
The charities were asked to respond by April 12, with the compiled information made available to the public shortly thereafter. They were also advised that additional information would be requested at a later date about disbursements and steps taken to prevent fraud and/or misuse of resources.
The Attorney General and Commissioner Rubenstein intend to post the results of the survey on their respective websites in order to add needed transparency to the activities of the various funds and to guide future donors who may wish to make a contribution.
The Attorney General and the Commissioner cautioned, however, that posting the information should not be considered an endorsement of a charity by their agencies or by the state.
Assistant Attorneys General Karen Gano and Mark Kohler, head of Special Litigation, are working with the Attorney General on this matter.
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