'Public needs to know': $9 million Casey DeSantis raised for Hurricane Ian relief remains unspent
After the destructive Hurricane Ian slammed Florida in 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis supporters touted his response to the disaster as a reason to give the MAGA Republican four more years in office. DeSantis' critics, meanwhile, have characterized him as a climate change denier who fails to see the link between climate change and dangerous storms like Ian.
DeSantis' wife Casey DeSantis pushed an Ian relief campaign that brought in more than $63 million. But according to Orlando Sentinel reporter Skyler Swisher, "about $9 million" of that money "is left to be allocated as the first anniversary of the storm approaches, the organization (Volunteer Florida) said."
Swisher reports that Volunteer Florida, which "oversees the fund," says "it has awarded about $54 million to charity and response agencies."
"On its website," Swisher explains, "Volunteer Florida says the fund has awarded $32.5 million in grants to groups such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The organization lists success stories in its operations report, highlighting how it provided badly needed relief in Central Florida and Southwest Florida, which suffered the worst damage in the state."
Swisher adds, "Donations were used to help low-and-middle-income homeowners elevate their storm-prone houses, deliver meals to seniors, assist educators with insurance deductibles, open emergency food banks and deep-clean damaged homes. But details are limited on other initiatives."
CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron wants Volunteer Florida to provide more details.
Styron told the Orlando Sentinel, "Those funds can end up benefiting private individuals. The public needs to know who are those private individuals…. People who donate in response to a natural disaster want to ease the suffering of the people affected. That's why they donate. So, if you still have people who are unhoused, buried in debt as a result of disaster losses, or otherwise not back on their feet, it is safe to say that the intentions of donors are not being honored."
Read the Orlando Sentinel's full report at this link (subscription required).
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