Conn. AG: Newtown plan for $11M meets donor intent

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A foundation overseeing more than $11 million in donations after the deadly Newtown elementary school shooting didn’t violate the intentions of donors when it allocated the money to victims’ families and the community, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday in response to questions about the distribution.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation plans to give $7.7 million to families of the 26 people killed, 12 children who survived the classroom shootings and two people who were wounded during the rampage at the school. Committees will decide how to use the rest of the money.

At a public hearing last month, some questioned the process for arriving at the $7.7 million for the families and wondered why all the money wasn’t going to the victims. Some victims’ families have said dealing with questions over how to distribute the money has caused them more pain.

Connecticut’s governor and two U.S. senators also called for independent oversight of the donations.

But state Attorney General George Jepsen said in a letter Wednesday that the foundation’s plan didn’t violate donor intent, the conclusion he’d reached earlier in the continuing review.

“As I have stated previously, reasonable minds may differ as to how funds should be allocated, and I neither endorse nor criticize any of the foundation’s decisions,” Jepsen said in a statement. “While I am concerned with the lack of transparency demonstrated in communicating about decision-making processes and procedures, our review found that the foundation has been in compliance with both donor intent and its governing documents.”

The foundation says the fund was created to help those most affected by the shooting, including families, surviving students and first responders, and is best managed by local people who understand their long-term needs.

Jepsen said the United Way and Newtown Savings Bank, which originally handled the donations, consistently represented that it was a multipurpose fund intended to support the families and the community. The foundation determined that all donations from individuals should go to the families and split the rest among the 40 families and the community, Jepsen said.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy said Jepsen’s review responds to the concerns they raised.

“We hope that the report will also satisfy members of the community who expressed these concerns to us, leading to our request,” they said in an emailed statement.

Kim Morgan, chief executive officer of the United Way of Western Connecticut, welcomed Jepsen’s findings and said she considered the issue to be resolved.

“Without further delay, it is time for the Sandy Hook Community Foundation to proceed with their work of determining how best to allocate the remainder of the donated funds to help heal the Newtown community,” Morgan said in a statement.

Twenty first-graders and six educators were shot to death in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the gunman killed himself as police arrived. The gunman had shot his mother to death at their home before going to the school.

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