Tuesday, September 06, 2005

FEMA tricked donors into giving money to Pat Robertson

This is the kind of story that only a die hard Republican could excuse (and probably very few of them, even).

Last week, FEMA, while responding slowly to the hurricane, put up a website that featured three organizations of the many available charities that people could donate to for the aid of victims. The American Red Cross, Operation Blessing, and America's Second Harvest. A second link below the three featured organizations listed fifty others which did not share the top billing (and thus the lion's share of the donations).

Two of the three are legitimate: The Red Cross, and Second Harvest, a national coalition of food banks.

The third is run by televangelist Pat Robertson with his wife as Vice President and his son on the board of directors. No, this isn't a 'bash Pat Robertson for no reason' post or some diatribe about political payback (although it is certainly true that Robertson's troops were instrumental in the President's re-election, so that certainly may have been a motivation).

It is instead a cold examination of the record:

Operation Blessing

in 1994, during the infamous Rwandan genocide, Robertson used his 700 Club's daily cable operation to appeal to the American public for donations to fly humanitarian supplies into Zaire to save the Rwandan refugees.

The planes purchased by Operation Blessing did a lot more than ferry relief supplies.

An investigation conducted by the Virginia attorney general's office concluded in 1999 that the planes were mostly used to transport mining equipment for a diamond operation run by a for-profit company called African Development Corp.

So not only were these funds misused, but here is the kicker-- the principal executive and sole shareholder of the mining company was none other than-- Pat Robertson.

Investigators concluded that Operation Blessing "willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements ..."

The article then goes on to point out that the money given to Operation Blessing, even today, largely goes to fund Robertson's TV empire. Probably not what the donors intend.

Then a few years ago, Robertson defended Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, now facing a war crimes trial.

Even in a disaster like this, the Bush version of FEMA is willing to steer donations to a charity with a questionable (and I'm being generous) record of service.

After a public uproar FEMA removed the charity from the site. Several days late, like most of what they have been doing lately.


Tedski said...

It's time for people to stop seeing Robertson as any sort of a religious leader, but merely another Republican businessman.

dorsano said...

Great comment tedski