US

Harvey charity or political group? Pitch for donations raises suspicions

Palestinian-American activist and Women's March organizer Linda Sarsour has been accused of exploiting Hurricane Harvey to solicit donations for a charity linked to an organization that has repeatedly bashed President Trump and the Republican Party.

The progressive political organization Sarsour touts says it will use donations to “organize and advocate” for Harvey victims rather than provide direct relief to the devastated families.

“Your donation is vital to ensuring that we have the resources we need to organize and fight for Texans devastated by Hurricane Harvey!” reads the donation page for the Harvey Community Relief Fund, organized by the Big Labor-affiliated and progressive Texas Organizing Project (TOP).

The page continues: “Together we will organize and advocate for our devastated communities, shining a spotlight on inequalities that emerge in the restoration of lives, livelihoods, and homes, amplifying the needs of hard-hit communities, and providing legal assistance for residents wrongfully denied government support.”

But the phrasing of the group's pitch for donations has raised suspicion on social media.

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TOP is a well-known political organization that has opposed President Trump as well as Republican policies on health care, immigration and employment regulations.

“While we are deeply saddened and disheartened with the results of the presidential election, Donald Trump’s win only strengthens our resolve to fight even harder for marginalized communities,” reads the organization’s website.

Michelle Tremillo, executive director of TOP, denied that money will go the organization but reiterated that the funds will be spent on advocacy and “ensuring low-income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.”

“We want to be clear on a key point about the Harvey Community Relief Fund, which is being housed within the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund: We have an ironclad commitment that 100 percent of the money raised into this fund will be spent directly on ensuring low income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts. Not a dime will be spent on any other purpose,” she says in a statement.

“We and our allies intend to make sure that our communities are at the forefront of the recovery process, and that they get the resources they need to rebuild their lives. We will make a determination about which relief efforts in particular to dedicate this funding after the floods recede. Our expenditures will be dictated by the needs of our communities, and we anticipate those needs will range from personal hygiene items to legal aid and advocacy.”