A group of Oklahoma City bombing survivors is organizing an effort to seek a review in the way $10 million in remaining funds donated after the bombing is being distributed.
Holly Sweet, a freelance television photographer from Tulsa, is coordinating the effort. The group has set up a private Facebook page and an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, to collect information.
The group is seeking information from those who were injured or whose family members died in the bombing, and will attempt to answer questions submitted by survivors and victims. The group has had initial discussions with attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who has helped determine compensation for victims of the 9/11 attacks as well as the Virginia Tech shootings, BP oil spill and other cases.
Sweet, who shot video for media outlets after the 1995 bombing, said she befriended several survivors at the time.
Over the years, she said, she has heard repeated complaints about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation's treatment of survivors. She said some were denied assistance for needs related to the bombing and treated rudely by foundation staff.
Sweet said the community foundation, which controls the remaining $10 million, “has had 17-and-a-half years to prove whether or not they were capable of fairly dispensing money.”
“I just feel like while they certainly have the abilities, they seem to have lost their moral compass.”
Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, said the foundation received $14.6 million in donations following the bombing. The organization has spent $11 million on “assistance and contributions to the memorial,” she said.
“We have generated significant earnings over the 17-year period,” Anthony said.
According to the foundation's latest public report to the IRS, $10.6 million remains in the fund. Records show the foundation allocated $4.4 million in 2005 to items not directly related to services for bombing survivors.
Anthony said those funds were generated by interest earned on the donated funds.
Kathy Sanders' two grandsons, Chase and Colton Smith, were killed in the bombing. Sanders said she believes Feinberg or some expert should review the remaining funds and recommend what should be done.
“They ought to do what they did with the 9/11 funds. … They brought in this analyst, and he designated what the needs are.”
Feinberg, nicknamed the “pay czar” in press accounts, recently administered donations collected for victims of a movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
Colorado's governor asked for Feinberg's help after a community foundation in that state came under fire from the shooting victims and their families. The foundation had collected $5.2 million in donations and distributed $5,000 each to families of the 12 killed and 58 wounded in the attack.