Move Sparked by Federal Investigations of Fund-raising Campaign

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Wal-Mart Stores has withdrawn its sponsorship of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's campaign to reopen the Statue of Liberty,
American Express has also been a high-profile sponsor in the same Statue of Liberty campaign. Here, a recent TV spot created by Ogilvy & Mather of New York.
as a Senate committee looks into the group's financial oversight.

On April 5 The New York Times reported that the inspector general of the U.S. Department of the Interior was conducting an investigation to find out why the foundation recruited corporate sponsors to raise $7 million when that organization already had $30 milliion in the bank.

Senate probe
In the wake of that news report, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee announced it, too, was opening an investigation into the matter.

Meanwhile, the Times quoted U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., specifically referencing Wal-Mart in his criticism of the Statue of Liberty sponsorship effort

"I resent the commercialization of it, pretending that we have to go begging corporations for money, when there has been more than enough money all along," Rep. Hinchey said. "As an American citizen, I don't want the Statue of Liberty co-opted by Wal-Mart."

Corporate sponsors
The Status of Liberty campaign lined up sponsors including American Express Co. and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Folger's to raise funds for security improvements to the monument, which had been closed to tourists since the Sept. 11 attacks due to security concerns.

Liberty Island, on which the statue stands, has been open since December 2001.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the retailer won't do fund-raising for the foundation or match contributions for the time being, but will re-examine the decision based on the results of the investigation.

Wal-Mart's $1.5 million
Wal-Mart's contribution included a donations match of up to $1.5 million.

"Our organization can account for every dollar it has ever raised and spent and has done so since its inception 22 years ago," the foundation's president-CEO, Stephen A. Briganti, said in a statement. "We welcome the inquiries which, when concluded, will reassure all contributors that we have wisely used their generous donations."

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