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Special Report

Rating Relief Groups

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," September 8, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. ET

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to help, support the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army, or your church, or the United Way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: Americans have already donated more than a half billion dollars to charities to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. So the question is, how is that money being spent? Correspondent James Rosen has been looking into that and joins me now.

James, what have you found?

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, different things about different agencies, Brit. And the differences might determine where you might want to send your dollars.

Let’s start, for example, with the United Way. That was one of the agencies the president just mentioned, encouraging Americans to give to them. What is the United Way?

The United Way is a conglomerate of 1,400 community-improvement agencies scattered throughout the U.S. On its Web site, the United Way, which used to boast about being the nation’s premier fundraising agency states, where is Katrina donations are concerned, and I quote now, "All funds will be allocated for both front-line disaster relief and long-term recovery needs, as determined by local United Ways in affected areas, in coordination with a vast network of human services agencies and volunteer centers."

Now, a spokesman for the United Way told FOX News this week, the agency has already collected several million dollars and counting. It’s got an ad hoc committee that it’s forming to decide where to spend the money.

However, it said that its top-three funding priorities in descending order are first to rebuild United Way branches that were destroyed by the hurricane, then second to help rebuild the communities where those branches were located, and then third to reimburse local branches elsewhere around the country that have already been expending money.

HUME: So the first money goes not to victims, but to United Way reconstruction for its own facilities?

ROSEN: According to the United Way spokesman, that’s correct.

HUME: All right, now let’s turn to what is the celebrated Bush- Clinton Katrina Fund, created by the two former presidents, modeled on their tsunami relief efforts. What do we know about how that money’s being spent?

ROSEN: Well, they’ve raised already $25 million so far this month, most of that through the generosity of the Walton Family, which owns Wal-Mart. As for where the money will go, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund Web site specifically states that the fund will be dispersed by three governors: the governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. And the governors are supposed to consult with and then report back to former Presidents Bush and Clinton about how the funds are being used.

HUME: But after the fact, right?

ROSEN: Yes. And so, conceivably, these three governors could spend this money on a variety of things, some of which may or may not be directly aiding the victims of Katrina.

HUME: So, if you don’t want the money to go into the hands of politicians, you might look, say, to the Red Cross? How do they do it?

ROSEN: Well, the American Red Cross, obviously, has been on the front lines of this disaster since the beginning. They’re providing food and shelter to 150,000 people. They have collected so far $485 million, more than half of that by the Internet. They tell me that 8 to 9 percent of the Red Cross Katrina money is going to go to administrative costs.

HUME: Is that a large percentage by comparison?

ROSEN: To some of these agencies, yes, it is. We’ll talk about others. It could be as low as 1 percent. But theirs, 8 to 9 percent for administrative costs.

Now, what does that mean? Legal advice, insurance, tech support, and so on.

The other 91 percent goes to victim relief needs.

HUME: Let me turn you, though, quickly, because we’re running out of time here, to the Salvation Army, another celebrated charity.

ROSEN: Right. They have collected $50 million. They promise on their Web site, the Salvation Army, 100 percent of funds raised go directly to hurricane victims. But some of their funds are going to replenish some of their mobile kitchens, which cost about $125,000 each.

HUME: All right, James Rosen, very good. Thanks very much. We’ll come back to you with more, as you learn it.

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