After Haiti Visit, Congresswoman Says She Saw No Sign Of Red Cross

After a visit to Haiti, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Thursday that she did not see evidence of the organization during a trip to the country earlier this week with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kristin Gilibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), The Hill’s Washington Scene reports. “We were actually pretty struck by the fact that we didn’t see the Red Cross anywhere, at all,” she said (O’Brien, 4/8).

CBS News’ “Political Hotsheet” blog notes that the Red Cross “has collected more than $409 million in donations, including more than $32 million from a text message donation campaign facilitated by the State Department and promoted by the White House” (Condon, 4/8). “President Barack Obama established a fund in the wake of the disaster, headed by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to ensure proper handling of donations to relief efforts,” The Hill’s Washington Scene reports.

In response to a question about whether the Red Cross was the best place to direct donations, Wasserman Schultz said, “I wouldn’t say that.” She added that she could not “unequivocally” recommend group. “I’m not disparaging the Red Cross, but I personally and the senators I was traveling with want to inquire as to what the Red Cross is doing down there,” she said (4/8).

For its part, the Red Cross said in a statement that it “has been on the ground responding in Haiti since the moment the earthquake struck and has spent a record $110 million so far for food, water, shelter, health and family services,” according to CBS News’ blog. “Those efforts just may not be so visible on the ground, a Red Cross spokesperson told Hotsheet, because the Red Cross relies largely on local Red Cross workers and volunteers. They may not be as conspicuous, but they know the people, the language and the geography, and they have established relationships with other organizations and the government” (4/8).

In related news, Fox News examines U.N. spending in Haiti. The article focuses on the U.N. World Food Program’s use of two passenger ships for housing its employees (Russell, 4/8).

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