Spitzer, Twin Towers Fund Agree To Transfer Of Charitable Donations

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced that he has completed his review of the proposal by the New York City Public Private Initiatives, Inc. – a not-for-profit corporation controlled by the City of New York – to transfer nearly $100 million in funds to the Twin Towers Fund, Inc., a new charity headed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The Twin Towers Fund has agreed to take additional steps to preserve its ongoing accountability to the City, and to its donors and beneficiaries. Based upon those assurances and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support for the proposal, the Attorney General will advise the State Supreme Court that he has no objections to the transfer of the funds.

"The new proposal from the Twin Towers Fund creates a framework that is officially accountable to the City of New York and allows the new charity to move forward and fulfill its public trust, assisting the families of the heroic rescue workers of this terrible tragedy," said Spitzer. "I'd like to commend both Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg for working collaboratively with my office on this review. My goal throughout this review has been to protect the public interest, the interests of the generous Americans who funded this unique charity, and most importantly, the interests of the victims it serves."

Under the asset transfer proposal, the Twin Towers Fund will take over the City entity's obligations to disburse additional charitable assistance to the families of the uniformed services workers and other rescue workers affected by the September 11th tragedies at the World Trade Center.

The Twin Towers Fund agreed to Attorney General Spitzer's request that 20% of its board of directors be named by the current Mayor. In addition to appointing 20% of the board, Mayor Bloomberg will appoint a new member of the board of directors to represent the interests of the charity's beneficiaries, selecting that member from nominations by the Fund's Advisory Board. In addition, the City Comptroller will have audit authority over the Twin Towers Fund for any year in which any portion of the transferred funds remains in the charity's accounts. The new proposal also reflects Mayor Giuliani's commitment to disburse 100% of the transferred funds directly to the victims within 60 days of court approval of the proposed transfer. None of these funds will be used for administrative costs, which will be paid for from other donations specifically collected for that purpose. Finally, interested parties will be given notice of the court petition, thereby allowing them to seek to submit their views to the court.

"I applaud Attorney General Spitzer for his leadership on this issue," said Ed Hayes, who is an attorney representing families of the deceased New York City Police Officers. "These funds were contributed by individuals throughout the country to a City-controlled entity, and these latest changes will ensure that New York City officials continue to have an oversight role and can protect the interests of the victims."

"On behalf of the families, we want to thank the Attorney General for addressing our concerns by ensuring that proper oversight of the funds is maintained,"said Peter Gorman, President of the Uniform Fire Officers Association.

"The Attorney General has shown great commitment throughout this entire process to advancing the issues of the victims of September 11th," said Marian Fontana, President of the 9-11 Widows and Victims and Family Association. "We are pleased that the parties were able to reach an agreement which provides the best structure for continuing to benefit families and ensuring sound leadership in disbursing the funds, while protecting the public's interest."

Under New York State's not-for-profit law, a fund transfer of this kind requires the approval of the State Supreme Court. It is expected that the petition supporting the proposal will be submitted to the court in the near future, at which time a date for the proceeding to approve it will be set. The court has the discretion to permit interested parties to appear and express their views.

The review of the Twin Towers Fund proposal was by handled by Section Chiefs Paula Gellman and Marla Simpson of the AG's Charities Bureau.