Brand USA on Wednesday reassured six U.S. senators who had raised concerns about the company’s activities that it will comply fully with their request for documents and records.
In a letter to the senators, Brand USA’s incoming chairwoman, Caroline Beteta, said, “Our IRS Form 990 (due Aug. 15, 2012) is almost complete, and we will deliver it immediately upon its completion. The annual report to Congress is at the Commerce Department pending transmittal to Capitol Hill.”
On other requests, she added, “I have instructed the staff to begin the process of developing answers and will keep you updated on our timing and progress.”
Form 990 is a document similar to a tax return that is filed by tax-exempt organizations. Brand USA, the trade name for the Corporation for Travel Promotion, was created as a public-private partnership by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010 to promote the U.S. as an international travel destination. It became operational last year.
Last week, six Republican senators expressed concern in a June 14 letter to the Commerce Department and to Brand USA about “waste and misuse of funds.” Among other things, the letter mentioned that the entire board had traveled to London in November for a board meeting that coincided with the World Travel Market.
Beteta said, however, that the board members did not travel at the company’s expense. “The Brand USA board has never accepted reimbursement of any kind for any travel or other expense,” she said.
The letter said, “Transparency is paramount to our success and we fully appreciate your oversight responsibilities.”
The letter was addressed to Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), four of whom voted against the Travel Promotion Act. Paul and Lee were not in the Senate at the time.