FOR 17 years, since soon after the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was blown apart by Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been disbursing funds to help victims and their families pay for medical, educational and living expenses. Only in the past several days have questions arisen about the foundation's work.
Those questions and complaints come from a small handful of the hundreds of men, women and children who have turned to the foundation for assistance. Indeed the foundation has distributed $11.1 million to help 962 individuals, comprising 16,256 transactions.
Following the bombing, more than $40 million was given to Oklahoma charities to aid victims. Much of that was spent, but eventually $14.6 million was turned over to the foundation to aid bombing victims and their families. About $10 million remains today, the result, in part, of investment returns.
Some victims contacted the Tulsa World to say that their needs hadn't been met by the foundation, or that their requests for assistance were denied. This prompted a group to ask Gov. Mary Fallin last week to remove what's left in the bombing fund from the foundation's control so it can be divided among victims — a truly extreme step.
The head of the foundation, Nancy Anthony, says allegations that bombing survivors were denied payments for legitimate medical expenses are inaccurate or the result of misunderstandings. In a good move, the foundation has requested an audit of the bombing fund to help alleviate concerns about how it was administered.
Anthony has understandable concerns about trying to simply divide the remaining money in the fund among survivors and victims. “No. 1, I do not think it would be legal,” she said. “No. 2, I do not think it would be in the best interest of the people.”
Fanning the flames of discontent in some quarters is a memo she and two foundation colleagues wrote in February to trustees of the foundation and the bombing fund, suggesting $4.4 million in investment earnings be spent in ways that would not directly benefit survivors.