Thursday, July 13, 2006

Religious leaders quit Katrina Fund panel-Claim their advice was ignored

The AP reported today that:

NEW ORLEANS - Nearly all the religious leaders serving on a committee created by the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund to disburse money to churches destroyed by Hurricane Katrina have quit their posts, claiming their advice was ignored.
Four out of nine board members confirmed their resignations on Thursday. Last week, two others — Bishop T.D. Jakes, the prominent Dallas megachurch pastor, and the Rev. William H. Gray III, former president of the United Negro College Fund — resigned as co-chairs.

And Gray and Jakes say they have received the resignation letter of a seventh board member, the Rev. William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA. He did not immediately return a phone call Thursday night.

Departing members of the interfaith advisory committee say the fund's Washington staff disregarded their advice, cutting checks for Gulf Coast churches without properly investigating the institutions.

"I've learned in life that if people say they want your advice and then they change it, ignore it, or undermine it, then they really don't want it," said Gray, also a former congressman.

The fund's co-chairs, former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and former Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman, issued a statement thanking Jakes and Gray for their leadership. A fund spokesman declined to comment on the resignations of the others or discuss their allegations.

The fund, created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, has so far raised more than $125 million, of which approximately $20 million was earmarked for rebuilding faith-based organizations along the Gulf Coast. The interfaith advisory committee was charged with determining which churches, synagogues and mosques were in greatest need.

The complete story may be found here:


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