Photo by Erica Sherman

It seemed to be just a matter of time before someone started wondering exactly how the millions upon millions of dollars that flowed in from charitable sources in the wake of Superstorm Sandy actually ended up being spent. And now State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking that very question, calling on dozens of charities to open the books on how they’ve spent millions of dollars raised to help storm victims.

Crain’s reports:

Some 40% of about $575 million in donations were unspent as of early April, according to an interim report Mr. Schneiderman’s office released Wednesday.

“It’s essential that both the donations and the distribution process be completely transparent and above board,” Mr. Schneiderman said. He said investigators in his office, which oversees charities, are still collecting information but have already seen suggestions of “serious problems in communication with donors and the distribution of funds.”

Mr. Schneiderman said his office is also interested in finding out how much money raised for Sandy relief actually went to organizational overhead or “non-Sandy” purposes.

In the interim report, the attorney general’s office said that charities and relief organizations that responded to a spring survey said about $238 million remained unspent as of early April.

“We understand that not every dollar can be spent right away, and some causes are best addressed over the long term,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

… In its report, Mr. Schneiderman’s office said that of the 89 organizations it identified as raising funds for Sandy victims or the rebuilding effort, 17 acknowledged that at least some of the money they raised in the storm’s aftermath would be used on charitable endeavors not directly linked to Sandy.

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