State AG urges charities to provide Sandy donation details

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office oversees charities, said he wants to look at "whether funds given for Sandy relief are in fact being used for that purpose." Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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ALBANY -- With a handful of complaints already filed, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman fired off a letter Tuesday to more than 70 charities raising money for superstorm Sandy recovery asking them to provide details about how donations are being used.

Schneiderman, whose office oversees charities, said he wants to look at "whether funds given for Sandy relief are in fact being used for that purpose."

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"In light of the importance of the recovery efforts, and the enormous amount of money raised in such a short period of time, it is critical that donors know where their money is going, and that funds are spent responsibly," Schneiderman said in a statement.

The letter asks nonprofit groups to outline how much they have raised, what portion of money raised will go to expenses, what services will be provided, and how they will use any surplus funds. He asked the groups to respond by Dec. 11.

A Schneiderman spokeswoman said the attorney general has received a "small number" of complaints but declined to give additional details.

The letters were sent to a wide range of national and local nonprofits, including the American Red Cross, the United Way of Long Island, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Accupuncturists Without Borders.

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"In the coming weeks and months, we expect to reach out to you for additional information, including more detailed information about how donations have been expended and the steps taken to prevent fraud and/or misuse of resources," Jason R. Lilien, the attorney general's charities bureau chief, wrote in the letter.

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