The Red Cross: A Question of Competence | The Nation


The Red Cross: A Question of Competence

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The Red Cross and the Green

Despite Red Cross staff criticism, Mrs. Dole has many defenders, especially on the board of governors. "She is the best leader I have come across in my ten years with the Red Cross," declared Robert Dilenschneider, one of the at-large gover-nors and head of the public relations firm The Dilenschneider Group. "This is one of the finest human beings I have ever known.... She has done a herculean job." Dilenschneider especially praised Dole for reshaping the board of governors by pulling in quality representatives from the public sector and "people from the corporate side who can do some heavy lifting."

Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. The article was coordinated by Robert Parry, director of the fund's investigative team.

About the Author

Linda Heller
Linda Heller's writing on medicine and health has appeared in many national magazines.

But the high-powered corporate executives on the board raise yet more questions about potential conflicts of interest. The files at the Federal Election Commission reveal that a number of board members have contributed to Bob Dole's campaign. For example, in 1995 chairman Norman Augustine contributed $1,000 to the Dole-for-President campaign and the Martin Marietta Political Action Committee contributed another $3,000. Board members Edward Rensi, president and C.E.O. of McDonald's; Jonathan Linen, vice chairman of American Express; John Clendenin, chairman and C.E.O. of BellSouth; Emilio Nicolas Jr., president of Heart of Texas Pizza; Charles Heimbold Jr., president and C.E.O. of Bristol-Myers Squibb; and several others gave the maximum allowable individual contribution to the campaign. Heimbold has also given $15,000 to Bob Dole's Campaign America, a special political action committee that he has used to support other Republican candidates and to pay for his air travel. And board member Abigail Wexner chipped in $4,000 for Campaign America.

A number of Red Cross governors share Mrs. Dole's frustration with the F.D.A. Dilenschneider's P.R. firm, for instance, has represented the breast implant industry in its struggle against the F.D.A. and women suing over alleged side effects from the implants. Heimbold's pharmaceutical company would benefit from the proposed legislation to weaken the F.D.A.'s regulatory power.

Still, it is the Doles' close friendship with Dwayne Andreas, the multimillionaire head of agribusiness conglomerate Archer-Daniels-Midland, that has perhaps raised the most eyebrows. As a senator, Bob Dole had long supported federal tax breaks for A.D.M.'s projects converting corn to ethanol, and in turn, Andreas has backed Dole's political campaigns. But the financial relationships have been even more personal. In 1982 Andreas sold Mrs. Dole and her brother a condo at the Sea View, a resort in Bal Harbour, Florida, at a price substantially below its market value.

Interestingly, it was not until Dole took over the Red Cross in 1991 that Andreas began giving significant donations to that giant charity. Since then, his company and foundation have contributed about $3 million in money and food to the Red Cross, The Washington Post reported recently. In 1992 Andreas's wife, Inez, was appointed to fill one of the at-large seats on the board of governors.

In an interview with The Nation, Inez Andreas contended that she didn't know why she had been recruited to the board. "I got a letter from the board of governors saying I was up for election," she said. "It was kind of out of the blue for me." But she grew annoyed in the interview when asked about possible conflicts of interest in her husband's close relationship to Bob Dole and Andreas's contributions to Elizabeth Dole's Red Cross. "Would they rather that we throw [the money] around on the street?" Mrs. Andreas asked. "We could throw it out the window."

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