Oklahoma City Community Foundation Statement Regarding March 1, 2013 Rock Center with Brian Williams story
We are disappointed the March 1, 2013 episode of "Rock Center with Brian Williams" failed to provide a more balanced approach in their story about the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund. Not only did the news staff fail to document the accuracy of the erroneous claims made in the story but they also excluded footage of individuals who voice support for the administration of the fund (such as former Gov. and Mrs. Keating). Furthermore, they failed to interview even one of the hundreds of others who have received assistance, who are grateful and extremely pleased with how their situation was handled. It is unfortunate that this story and others resulting from the false accusations by a disgruntled few will make it more difficult for our organization and others to assist victims eligible for assistance from disaster relief funds. Stories such as this serve to spread misinformation and suspicion rather than provide the public with an understanding of the actual facts. We would expect news organizations with the credentials and reputation of NBC and Rock Center to provide a more complete and accurate story rather than the sensationalized approach taken in this instance.
The Disaster Relief Fund is currently undergoing a voluntary, independent forensic accounting review to address all questions that have been raised. The results of that review are expected to be released and made public in mid to late March 2013. After undergoing the utmost scrutiny from an independent accounting firm, we are even more confident the results of this audit will refute any claims of impropriety and reveal that we have operated the Disaster Relief Fund in accordance with the IRS guidelines, being the best stewards possible of the donated funds which were entrusted to us.
It is important for the public to understand that the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund is bound by and has strictly followed guidelines provided by the IRS with regard to fund distributions. As a 501(c)(3) public charity, we must adhere to Treasury Regulations and IRS pronouncements governing disaster relief funds. These regulations and guidance require documentation of need and, if eligible, the possible use of government-funded aid before the fund can assist with unmet needs. A copy of the IRS guidelines outlining how funds should be distributed can be found here https://www.occf.org/disasterrelieffund.html
Since 1995, the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund has assisted more than 1,000 individuals - survivors and families of those directly impacted by the Murrah Building bombing. We continue to provide both services and financial assistance to approximately 50 active cases with unmet needs. In addition, 171 students eligible for assistance from the Survivors’ Education Fund have received some type of assistance, 90 students have received at least one degree and there are 45 students who are either still in college or are eligible for scholarships through the fund. Our staff is dedicated to helping these individuals and families move forward and has consistently done so in a professional, courteous manner.
For additional information including Frequently Asked Questions about the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund, please visit https://www.occf.org/disasterrelieffund.html