Ms. Beyersdorfer said Pennies for Peace funds have never been used to buy books written by Mr. Mortenson. When asked what financial information she could provide to allay educators’ concerns that schoolchildren’s money was not well spent, she referred Education Week to “field reports” in an online publication of the institute, “Journey of Hope.”
The most recent “Journey of Hope” report [PDF] says that by November 2010, the institute had established or significantly supported more than 170 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the report provides more detailed information only about several of the schools, and tells what it cost to build and run only one of them.
Ms. Beyersdorfer included a statement that is part of the institute’s standard response to inquiries about how it handled donations: “The CAI board of directors and senior management team have determined that a very thorough, transparent, and objective assessment of CAI’s programs and operations is needed, and we are taking steps to define that process and begin.”
Montana’s attorney general, Steve Bullock, has launched an inquiry into the operations of the Central Asia Institute. “While looking into this issue, my office will not jump to any conclusions—but we have a responsibility to make sure charitable assets are used for their intended purposes,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Mortenson didn’t grant interviews to “60 Minutes” or to Mr. Krakauer, but he said in a Q&A published April 18 by Outside magazine that inaccuracies in his books are a result partly of the condensing of the time when some events took place.