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A closer look

A disaster relief fund for survivors of the OKC bombing comes under scrutiny amid criticism from some families.

Clifton Adcock November 21st, 2012

In the wake of complaints from some survivors of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing and their families, the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund is being audited. The critics claim that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation (OCCF), which oversees the fund, has been difficult to deal with and chronically unresponsive to requests for assistance.

Deloris Watson
Credit: Mark Hancock

The foundation has countered that it is following strict Internal Revenue Service regulations governing such funds and providing reasonable oversight to make the dollars stretch as far as possible.

However, records show that at least some of the interest earned on money in the fund is being used on expenses other than those directly requested by survivors.

First reported by the Tulsa World, the issue drew the attention of former Gov. Frank Keating and former Oklahoma City mayor Ron Norick, both of whom subsequently requested a performance audit of the fund. In the aftermath of the 1995 bombing, the two were among those responsible for transferring scattered donations to the central fund under the OCCF.

Deloris Watson, the grandmother of P.J. Allen, the youngest survivor in the building’s day care center, said foundation officials have insisted that the fund should be a resource of last resort. Watson said the foundation has encouraged survivors and their families to get on public assistance before requesting help from the fund for medical bills and the like.

Watson fought for nearly a year to have the fund pay for the removal of Allen’s tracheotomy tube. SoonerCare ultimately paid for most of the treatment, she said.

She and about a dozen other survivors and survivors’ relatives have asked Gov. Mary Fallin to close the fund and distribute the remaining money to survivors and families of those who died.

“In one day, the injured people from the Oklahoma City bombing can be removed from the tax roll as recipients of welfare. I can’t see why Gov. Fallin wouldn’t see that as a win-win situation for everyone,” Watson said.

IRS records show that around $10.4 million was in the fund at the end of 2011. It originally had around $14.6 million, but donations from around the country has been invested in bonds over the years, said Cathy Nestlen, director of communications for the Community Foundation.

She said IRS regulations for disaster relief funds require that people seek out all other avenues for which to cover medical care or other expenses before utilizing the fund.

Nestlen said the OCCF welcomes the performance audit, but cautioned that it likely isn’t legally possible to eliminate the fund and divvy up the money.

Nancy Anthony
Credit: Mark Hancock

Her sentiments are echoed by Keating.

“There was never an intention to have an insurance fund and divide all the money,” he said.

A memo from Community Foundation Executive Director Nancy Anthony to the fund’s trustees in February discussed disbursement of around $4.4 million that the fund’s money made from investments.

That money is slated to be put toward long-term studies of treatment and services, aiding other communities affected by disaster, helping the Oklahoma City National Memorial qualify for federal matching funds and training individuals in disaster and emergency response.

Nestlen said the memorial is considered part of community healing and that if the $4.4 million was ever needed for the survivors, it could be taken out of those funds and placed back into the survivors’ fund.

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11.21.2012 at 12:36 Reply

Let's see, if I made a donation to help the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and Nancy Anthony decides it appropriate to deny it to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, that makes it ok?

Let's see, if Nancy Anthony and the OCCF decide to build themselves a new office to dwell in to the tune of 6 million dollars and purchase the land that the property sits and the money it takes to do this involves money donated for other reasons, that makes it ok?

Let's see, Nancy Anthony makes $232,000 a year salary to manage the Disaster Relief Fund. Really?? That's 5 times the median income in Oklahoma..... That's ok?

I'm appalled. 



11.21.2012 at 12:41

17 years later and 10 million dollars still left in the Disaster relief fund and the OCCF is still to this day denying assistance to the victims.....something's not right with this picture.

Just saying.


11.21.2012 at 02:59 Reply

Nancy Anthony serves as an officer of the Disaster Relief Fund as part of her responsibilities as president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. She is compensated by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and is responsible for the oversight of more than 1,200 endowment funds with assets in excess of $640 million. She does not nor has she ever received compensation from the Disaster Relief Fund.

The purchase of the land, construction of the facility and furnishings for the Oklahoma City Community Foundation offices were paid for by the organization's administrative endowment. No monies from the Disaster Relief Fund were used to pay for any costs associated with the building.

Since 1995, the Disaster Relief Fund has disbursed $11.1 million of the $14.6 million contributed to assist 962 individuals. Every dollar contributed by the public has been used to assist someone impacted directly by the bombing. There are approximately 30 individuals who will need long-term medical and mental health care for many years.

Since 1969, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been and remains a trusted organization for managing contributions. We exist to serve the community. It is inconceivable that we would purposefully withhold applicable funds from eligible beneficiaries and we are confident this will be evident when the independent performance audit is completed.


11.24.2012 at 11:33

I don't think one would have to look too much further than Nancy Anthonys comments made in an article published in 2005 to an article written in the Chicago Tribune to get the mindset of Nancy Anthony. In this article she refered to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing as heroin addicts. 

Ms. Anthony clearly is a very narcisisstic, money grubbing and power hungry person with only her personal needs and causes before her. 

The policies she set and commanded her staff to follow in disbursing the funds from the donations in the Disaster Relief Fund are a clear example that she did not have the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in mind. 

She did however, have her own personal needs and virtues before her. That's clear as a bell.

By the way, Ms Anthony's publicist. I love your knee jerk response to you protecting your 'leaders' name but, I never said once in my above comment that Nancy used funds from the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund in either your precious building or in Nancy Anthony's overwhelming $232K a year salary. Why are you being so over-protective?

Just curious...,0,6613315.story?page=3&fb_source=aggregation&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_action_ids=10151267917665419&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582


11.25.2012 at 03:15

Dear OKC_Comn, 

As you are likely aware, it is contradictory to say "every dollar contributed by the public has been used to assist someone impacted directly by the bombing", while simultaneousely defending a decision to spend $4.4 million in donations on out of state disasters and "long term studies" among others.  I believe Ms. Anthony crudely used the term "hunk of money" in describing the $4.4 million.

(see TulsaWorld, Nov.4, 2012 "When we got to the 10th anniversary and saw this big hunk of money, we sort of looked at the other issues," she said.)

Yours truly,

A donor to the fund


11.23.2012 at 07:32 Reply

OCCF does not exist to serve the community.  OCCF exists as a business.  Unfortunately for those impacted most egregiously by the bombing, business practices by staff, combined with rules and regulations intent on preserving principal at the cost of those who suffer, insult was added to injury.

There is a no cost, immediate, simple answer to this problem:  call in the person who has offered to review concerns, interview victims and carry out the donor's intent.  Kenneth Feinberg has offered his services pro bono.  While disbursing these funds do not serve the interests of OCCF, it is not too late to see justice served for the victims of the bombing.


11.26.2012 at 09:19 Reply
First off, I find the statement that they "stay within IRS guidelines", when in fact the donations received for the shooting at the theater in Aurora Colorado were distributed promptly, ALL OF IT! It was not saved for future disasters, it was not saved for long term use, it was not saved to give Nancy Anthony an ongoing job with OCCF, it was not used to build buildings!

Let\'s see, I am very disappointed that Gov. Fallin would only ask for an internal audit of themselves instead of bringing in an outside auditor.

Then, someone please explain why the Bob and Nancy Anthony charity fund falls underneath the bombing 501c?  Sounds a bit fishy to me. How much money is the bombing contributing to their "family fund"!!

It's a joke that the Disaster Relief Fund of the bombing is considered a "model for other disasters to follow". I would be very concerned about future relief funds being used to subsidize other money grubbers like Nancy Anthony. If the OCCF is such a stellar company, then why do we have all of these questions coming up and that 17 years later we still have victims uncompensated, on welfare, on medicaid, uneducated and flat starving while trying to just survive!!  I don't care if Nancy Anthony is paid under the umbrella of the OCCF, it's all one big umbrella and she is being compensated 4 times more than what the average Oklahoman makes, works in a state of the art office, in a state of the art facility, on a state of the art LAND!!!

Give us all a break and get this audit done by an outside firm and while they're at it, let them audit, her AND the OCCF!!

I am so disgusted with Nancy Anthony and the OCCF