Let bombing relief fund audit be completed before drawing conclusions

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: December 5, 2012

SOME Oklahoma City bombing survivors aren't happy with how a victim relief fund is being administered. Now that their complaints have led to a pending audit, they aren't happy with the choice of the auditor. If the audit doesn't come to the “right” conclusions, their unease will surely rise to another level.

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation oversees a $10 million bombing relief fund and was recently accused of sitting on the money rather than writing checks. At first blush, the criticism seemed valid. First blushes aren't always accurate.

Foundation officials have made a good case that they've done things by the book. Nevertheless, they welcome the audit. This isn't good enough for the complaining survivors, who cited alleged conflicts of interest at the auditing firm. They also want help from an attorney who was involved in relief efforts following 9/11, the Gulf oil spill and the Virginia Tech shootings.

The bombing fund dispute doesn't call for lawyering up. The fund was never intended to pay survivors and victims compensation solely for being a survivor or a victim. It was created to pay specific bills related to health care and college education.

Every high-profile tragedy brings out the lawyers. An attorney who once defended O.J. Simpson tried to press claims against suppliers of the fertilizer that Timothy McVeigh used to explode the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. This is the equivalent of suing the refiners of the jet fuel carried by the planes that struck the Pentagon and World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

A subset of bombing survivors has been unhappy from the outset. After 9/11, they began pressing for compensation patterned after the money going to survivors of the terrorist attack. Their argument was based on “fairness.” But as we noted at the time, doesn't “fairness” dictate that survivors of all murder victims be compensated in like manner? Should victims and survivors be compensated whenever a crime makes international news but not when a murder happens down the street?

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