The American Red Cross is fighting ProPublica’s attempts to determine how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy. The charity has hired a law firm to fight a public records request filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a “trade secret.” The Red Cross’ argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though it’s not clear yet how much since the documents haven’t yet been released.
ProPublica has reported that the Red Cross releases few details about how it spends money after disasters. That makes it difficult to figure out whether donor dollars are well spent. An attorney argues that Red Cross documents about Sandy include “internal and proprietary methodology and procedures for fundraising, confidential information about its internal operations, and confidential financial information.” If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,” the attorney wrote.